Bangles for Goddess Lakshmi

Bangles are very important to Indian women, ‘married women should never have bare wrists’, my friend told me after seeing me bangleless. The next time I saw her she had sweetly bought me a beautiful set, which I have worn every day since.

Glass bangles are traditionally worn and even though it is very inauspicious to admit, I have accidentally smashed a couple, wearing two gold ones at either end usually protects the fragile glass ones.

You want to avoid breaking a bangle as it is seen as a bad omen, oh darn.

These glass bangles are difficult and painful to put on, there is a special knack to it. I thought it would be preferable to buy a bigger size but there is a traditional belief that the smaller, the happier the marriage. I wonder if that means women with big hands have unhappy marriages? Should we perhaps test this theory with a survey?

During weddings and festivals, lots of bangles are worn. It was quite the scandal when I didn’t wear many bangles during my wedding, so this festival season I will make sure I will not commit the same faux pas.

bangle shop in India

After getting a new head for Goddess Lakshmi for the upcoming Mahalakshmi festival, we had to buy her some new bangles. Bangle shopping is great in India, so many to choose from. So many styles and colours to choose from, each with their own meaning. Green bangles have a special significance in Maharashtra (fertility and prosperity), we bought some itty bitty glass ones with a couple of pearl bangles to separate them. They will look very beautiful, I am now extremely excited for this festival to arrive!

There was a small man sat in the bangle shop, who looked to be in his eighties. He had dark lined skin and wore a crisp cream shirt; his facial expression was very solemn, pensive and weary from a long life’s work. What struck me about this old man selling bangles was that his serious face was completely covered in multicoloured glitter, more glitter than a cabaret drag queen. I guess it’s an occupational hazard.

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37 thoughts on “Bangles for Goddess Lakshmi

  1. I never heard the bad omen thing about glass bangle breaking, they break all the time anyway. In my husband’s family women are supposed to wear at least one glass bangle on each wrist when they are married and widows break their glass bangles to never wear them again. I find that practice seriously patriarchal, as if the status of a woman is hanging by a glass ring. I rarely wear bangles these days because when you have kids, glass is really not practical and could hurt them when they break.

    With glass bangles it is not buying them bigger that is a trick by the way, they will break faster while wearing them if you buy them too big as they will get snagged in everything and bang on furnitures and such. The trick to slipping them on without breaking them is to coat your hands with soap and water and then slide them on before patting dry. Most Indian ladies don’t remove their bangles at night usually so removing them is not an issue for them, but you can remove glass bangles easily using the same soap trick.

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    • Hey Cyn,

      Hope you guys are well. Yes, you see broken glass bangles all over the streets near my house. I guess it is a little like the saying that if you break a mirror you have 7 years bad luck.

      I did think that if a women was in an unhappy marriage then these bangles would be more like shackles than beautiful jewellery. The genie from Disney’s Aladdin then came to mind, remember when he is free and the cuffs on his wrists disappear.

      I remember when I had my registered marriage and the guy said I had to wipe off my sindoor, I wondered if he wanted to break my bangles too. A very sad tradition.

      Thank you so much for the tip, I don’t remove my bangles either. I have gotten used to them, slowly their numbers are decreasing though 🙂

      Thank you for your comment,

      Take care

      Lauren xxx

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  2. I have seen how pretty much every Indian woman wears bangles but I didn’t know about the significance of the colours and the breaking of the bangle. For a while, years ago, I used to wear three golden bangles that I got on a trip to India. I would even sleep with them and shower with them. The clinging sound almost gave me comfort. Then I stopped, I don’t remember why. Currently my wrists have been bare for a couple years, all the jewelry I wear is my wedding rings and earrings.

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    • Hey Mani,

      I love the sound of them too, whilst recording my audiobook I can hear the clinking of my bangles so I have to put some tape around them hahaha!

      I also like the sound of the bangles when the maids are around, the make lots of tinkle tinkle sounds.

      I don’t even have a wedding ring, I have my manglesutra instead, would love to have a wedding ring one day though 🙂

      I hope you are both well!!

      Lots of love xxx

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      • Last year in India it was funny because I was “talking” (language barrier) with some indian women and when it came across that I was married they were pointing to their necks asking me why I didn’t have a necklace and I showed them the ring instead but they didn’t understand. They were rural girls 🙂

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      • Oh haha, so funny!! Lots of Indian girls are wearing engagement rings now I have noticed, which is really nice. I don’t always wear my mangalsutra because it is quite costly and I am scared it will get stolen, whilst I don’t ever feel I am going to get mugged, still nervous hehe.

        That must have been a cute and confusing conversation! xxx

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  3. @Lauren

    Not just bare wrists, even bare neck is also considered inauspicious. The breaking of glass or mirror in general is considered inauspicious. These days very few women wear glass bangles as more attractive options other than glass are available for bangles. Among Bengalis, women wear only two bangles each on both hands. One is called Shakha which is made of ivory and other is red colored bangle called Pola. These two are considered a must for all married women.

    https://www.google.com/search?q=bengali+shakha&rlz=1T4RLTB_enIN565IN566&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=CBf7U6-_LI7iuQSfz4HQBA&ved=0CAgQ_AUoAQ&biw=1366&bih=566

    Punjabi women wear chudas on both hands

    https://www.google.co.in/search?q=chudas&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=0hb7U9u5HMm6uAS4soHwBg&ved=0CAYQ_AUoAQ&biw=1366&bih=566#facrc=_&imgdii=_&imgrc=DmpdMHkegcyqiM%253A%3Bfc_-kU81Vu2bhM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.indianetzone.com%252Fphotos_gallery%252F17%252Fpunjabichurhacere_861.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.india-forums.com%252Fforum_posts.asp%253FTID%253D1565756%2526TPN%253D98%3B212%3B340

    The north indians and Maharastrians are more into this glass bangle thing.

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      • You should see punjabi married girls in Delhi wearing churas with t shirts, skirts complete with manuals u trad
        Very good combination of tradition with modernity

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      • I have seen a girl whilst I was on honeymoon, loots very beautiful! Even though my husband is not Punjabi, if I ever go to Punjab I would love to get some churas. Well, each place I go to, I would love to get the bangles traditional to the locality. Would be a beautiful collection!

        I hope you are well!! x

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      • @Lauren

        Lots of things have changed as far as the ornaments of married indian women and their traditions. For eg. Karva Chauth is basically a Punjabi festival not even a north indian festival but due to the popularity of Hindi serials is now gained acceptance in large parts of India. Similarly, mangal sutra is basically worn by south indian and maharastrian women, have become popular in north. Popular culture as depicted in movies and serials is still very north india/punjabi.

        BTW have you seen Hyderabadi lac bangles. They are beautiful

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  4. Hi Lauren
    I am a Marathi Hindu girl from Mumbai now settled with my husband who is from Hyderabad India settled in London. I often read your blog, as we also had long distance online relationship before getting married about 9 years ago. The traditions although forced to us as customs are not compulsory. I guess, I also followed many such beliefs for many years. I am now working and have / lovely daughters, and realise that unless I set an example for them, they would never follow. Three cheers to you, you are doing a pretty good job.

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    • Hey Rucha,

      Lovely to hear from you, lovely name (we have a beautiful Rucha in our family). SO lovely to meet another online relationship turned into a marriage. Some traditions are lovely but some we can just forget about, I really think it is all about personal preference and nothing should be forced.

      Best wishes to you, your husband and lovely daughter xxx

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  5. hI Lauren,
    Had been following you blog from few days. Your posts are very nice and informative to those who want to settel down in India. Good job. And about this bangle tradition, just wanted to give some information.

    I think this is scientiifc, but not very sure. The nerves in women wrists are directly connected to the uterus. So came the tradition of wearing bangles, to avaid infertility.

    Hopw you are foing well !!

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  6. Bangles are not unique to indian culture, but I’m guessing it originating there , hence the name bangle, Italians sometimes wear bangles and the gypsy woman and their bling. Latina women wear it a lot and african american woman at times although often they don’t have a particular “style” or “preference”

    There are many bangles from india, ivory,glass,plastic,costume,wood,brass,etc

    Great bangles are often sterling silver, the “diamond cut” sterling or in many cases purer such as the ultrafine by qvc make a pleasant noise. Treasures of india had a bangle brand on the Uk qvc website but sometimes it comes and goes in different sets.

    Some folks find bangles to be annoying, I think it has to be with the type of a bangles, silver bangles, the thin “diamont cut” ones as sold by many shopping ones usually have a pleasant noise, however the fake jewellery does not, gold bangles are very expensive, sometimes folks mix and match. Other types it’s personal style.

    Glass bangles have a nice sound but it can become annoying since it’s sound is not as long and pleasant as opposed to say sterling silver, wood ones are popular in the summer for looks. Chura’s are often plastic, some girls like it, some don’t, often times in marriage they will have bells hanging from it, girls wear it after they are married for a few months sometimes. During nepali festivals girls often wear only glass bangles.

    You missed a related topic,feet anklets which folks sometimes wear (non-gold for religious reasons) for their sound both as an ornament and for dance. Usually the non-dance ones sound pleasant as a silver charm bracelet with bells, but the dance ones are usually ones that go with music. Most folks probably costume ones.

    They also have interlocking rolling bangles such as from silpada 21 or ones they called russian bracelets, don’t see them worn to often from indians but they are bangles that are popular since they don’t fall off easily or can be lost. They make pleasent noises.

    Interestingly because of regulations of hijab, many muslim women esp of south asian descent may wear bangles under their clothing or “dress up at home” wearing anklets,bangles,perfume, scarves,etc as opposed for “dressing to go out”. They often wear dresses and skirts are home but probably ones that are more comfortable with their style. Women also often wear bangles before childbirth, usually glass ones in valaikappu ceremony with religious chants from a temple.

    I have to say if you want great bangles, instead of just browsing merchants in india in general, there are folks even those not of indian descent who make great indian bangles and they often at times work with indian small business woman for instance to supply their product. Many bangle merchants in india are just trying to make a living and don’t care too much about quality and design and it’s a tough business. Even certain italian companies make great bangles and american ones which you can pair with say indian bangles such as treasures of india in which merchants work with indian merchants or have a indian relative or connection and handcraft their own jewelry.For instance beach combers baazar does this, I am just giving examples not endorsing a particular product.

    Interesting topic, let me know what you think, perhaps maybe some videos along with great dresses, nisha with the youtuve user hennafied, has tutorials about many different dresses and draping styles.

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