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At face value, mangalsutra is simply a traditional necklace worn by the bride-to-be during traditional Indian weddings. But in ancient Indian culture, mangalsutra carries a more profound and symbolic meaning.
Part of this symbolism is rooted in the mangalsutra’s black beads – but what are the beads in mangalsutra, and what do they signify?
In this article, we’re going to take a look at the historical symbolism of the black beads in mangalsutra, and what these represent during a traditional Indian wedding ceremony. We’re also going to go over some tips and tricks on how to pick a mangalsutra that best suits your practical needs and your style preferences, so let’s take a look!
What do the black beads represent in mangalsutra?
In mangalsutra, the black beads offer two different – yet equally important – symbolisms. Firstly, the weaving of the black beads represents how the bride-to-be must also mimic her mangalsutra by weaving seamlessly into her husband’s life, and fully embrace her new life as a wife after her marriage ceremony.
The black beads also act as a form of protection against negative energies: the black beads absorb evil before they can reach the bride and her new groom, protecting the family against evil.
Does a mangalsutra have to have black beads?
In order for a mangalsutra to fulfill its traditional and holy obligations, it must be made with black beads. While some women now modernize their mangalsutra to better suit their practical working lives, black beads are always a feature.
If you have a practical or manual job, or if your workplace has a strict dress code, you can still wear a traditional mangalsutra that has been strung with black beads. All you need to do is ensure that the beads are small enough to keep out of your way while you’re working.
Why do married women wear mangalsutra?
Married women wear mangalsutra for two reasons. The first reason is rooted in practicality: in the past, the wearing of mangalsutra helped women to identify themselves to others as being married women. The second reason women wear mangalsutra is to honor her groom and husband: the mangalsutra is said to protect the groom’s health and improve his well being, and by wearing a mangalsutra, a wife demonstrates her love and devotion to her husband.
Which type of mangalsutra is best?
While the origins and symbolisms of mangalsutra are universal, there’s no ‘best’ type of mangalsutra. A mangalsutra simply needs black beads and a gold chain, and many women now modernize their necklace to better suit their personal style and practical needs.
Traditionally, the bridegroom’s family is tasked with buying the mangalsutra for their soon-to-be daughter in law, but this doesn’t mean that the bride doesn’t have a say in choosing a design or a style. If you’re a bride-to-be considering what type of mangalsutra to pick, here are some pointers to guide you in the right direction:
Gold is another important feature in any mangalsutra necklace. In Indian culture, gold represents prosperity, wealth, and status, and wearing a gold mangalsutra is the best way to honor the ancient mangalsutra tradition. But don’t forget about gold quality! For the highest gold quality combined with durability and practicality, a 22 karat gold mangalsutra is your best option. Unlike 24k gold (or pure gold), 22k gold is much more resistant to damage and tarnishing, while still providing that eternal yellow-gold hue that has long been associated with mangalsutra and Indian weddings.
As modern women are now as common a feature in the workplace as men, it’s important to think about practical concerns when selecting a mangalsutra. If you work in an environment with strict rules on workplace clothing (such as a hospital or a school) you might want to consider opting for a mangalsutra that combines practicality with tradition. For example, by opting for a shorter chain length, or a smaller pendant.
You don’t need to sacrifice your personal style when wearing a mangalsutra, and the best mangalsutra is going to reflect your own personality and sense of fashion. You can easily make your mangalsutra reflect your own style by having a say over the gold hue, the pendant, and the length of your chain.