My Unusual Necklace, My Mangalsutra

During my visit to England, several people admired my very “unusual necklace”. This unusual necklace, which I guess does look pretty unusual compared to jewellery from the West, is my mangalsutra. For those who are not familiar, a mangalsutra is one of the many symbols of marriage a Hindu woman might wear.  

The style of mangalsutra varies across India and mine is in the style usually (definitely not unusual around these parts) seen on a Maharashtrian woman…Marathi Mangalsutra Mehendi Henna Palm

The word mangalsutra is a combination of two Sanskrit words, mangal meaning ‘auspicious’ and sutra meaning ‘thread’. During the marriage ceremony the husband puts this auspicious thread around his bride’s neck, and traditionally she will wear this sacred necklace for the rest of his life. The black beads are thought to protect the couple from the evil eye, and sadly if a woman becomes a widow she will be expected to either removes her mangalsutra completely or remove these black beads so she can continue to wear it.

mangalsutra

It felt a little strange in England, I was married but wasn’t wearing a wedding ring, maybe I will get one someday, but my “unusual necklace” started conversations (but not as many as my sindoor did) so people soon knew it was an Indian marriage symbol.  At first I was a little unsure about how it looked myself and when British people describe something as unusual, they are most likely not totally sure if they like it or not (I am extremely sorry if I have ever described someone’s taste as unusual, that could be awkward).

That is my unusual necklace, which I now, after becoming very fond of it, like to call my beautiful mangalsutra

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Times are changing, not all married women are wearing their mangalsutra for various practical and personal reasons. Do you have a mangalsutra? Do you think it’s unusual or beautiful?  Do you enjoy wearing it?

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27 thoughts on “My Unusual Necklace, My Mangalsutra

  1. I have been married for 28 years, my husband is from Maharashtra and I have a long Mangalsutra and also a small everyday one. I live in the U.K so I wear a wedding and engagement ring here but I wear a Mangalsutra when I am in India, you are right they are very pretty. Sometimes I don’t wear it but I always have a ring on my wedding finger. I feel very fortunate to be part of two different cultures.

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    • Hey Tracy,
      Mine is really long too, I am so scared of loosing it I don’t remove it…but it can get uncomfortable!
      It is really nice to be able to experiece the best of both world!
      I hope you are well! 😀
      Take care, lots of love xx

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  2. You said that you were back, but this was quick. In many tv serials and bollwood movies, mangalsutras were used for dramatic effect. In an intense scene, the women clutches her mangalsutra and mouths dramatic dialogues. There are close ups of the mangalsutra from different angles. The rhythmic dangling of the mangalsutra adds to the effect. Mangalsutra is quiet a formidable ornament. Alas, we do not have mangalsutra tradition in our community. Bengali women wear two small bangles on both hands one is white called Shakha and the other is red called Bala. These are the two symbols of marriage besides sindoor. The mangalsutra became popular among women due to proliferation of tv serials.

    Did you wear sindoor in England?? I have heard that even Indians do not wear symbols of marriage abroad. It must seem very odd to them.

    BTW, I saw your video where you saying to Alphonso “Alphonso look at me. Are you angry with me? What did I do?” It took me some time to understand that you said “Angry”. All in all very cute video.

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    • Haha, yes, I have seen this serial tactic. Not that I watch them myself, but my grandparents-in-law are addicted to them!
      I recently visited a Bengali mandir and the priest put kumkum on my bangles 😀

      I do wear sindoor in England, only a little bit but I do. Most Indian’s in the UK are second generation but I have seen several ladies with sindoor in London. In my area there is not a visible Indian population.

      Finally, we treat Alfonso like a prince but he still holds a grudge!

      I hope you are well 😀 Take care

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    • The significance of the mangala sutra was re-iterated by Adi Shankara in his famous book Soundarya Lahari. According to Hindu tradition, the mangala sutra is worn for the long life of the husband. Dictated by religious customs and social expectations, married women have to wear mangala sutra throughout their life as it is believed that the practice enhances the well-being of her husband. It is also believed that the mangala sutra protects the marriage from any evil eye. However, if the husband dies it is removed from her neck as a part of widowhood rituals.

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  3. Now if you married a Nepali Hindu you would be wearing a tilhari, a necklace of strands of potey (colored glass) beads wound together & bound by a carved gold cylinder.
    I married a high caste Kashmiri Muslim so I should be wearing a carved gold bracelet on each wrist (weight & intricacy determined by status). But did I get any gold bracelets? NO! I got a diamond ring. How boring & modern. I asked for a hammam too- that didn’t happen either.

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  4. I am a Maharashtrian and i have married a gujarati. So I get two mangalsutras – one from my mom and one from my husband. My mom got me a small one with a small diamond locket and my husband got me a long one. I wear my small mangalsutra all the time and i wear my long one on special occasions. Though married to a gujarati , wearing manglasutra is not compulsory. I love wearing my small one as it is easy to take care. Plus i don’t feel the weight of it 🙂
    Love my manglasutra for sure esp my small one

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  5. @ Lauren

    u were planning to write about your visit to the bengali kali temple. did u get the chance to see Bengali Durga pooja this time??

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  6. The black beads and gold style of Mangalasutra is not just a Maharashtrian practice. A lot of Brahmin women wear that style of Mangalasutra. My mom used to wear just that type of mangalasutra. They are beautiful!
    I usually do not make caste references. But, I thought in this case I’d make an exception and clarify.

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    • Hey Foby,
      Sorry I think you misunderstood, I was just saying mine is in a Maharashtrian style, not that the black beads were exclusive to this style! 🙂
      They are so gorgeous, it took a little time for me to get used to it but now I really love it!
      I hope you are well 🙂
      Take care

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  7. I have South Indian Mangalsutra or I think it is also called thaali, so mine is just golden without black beads and the “charm” is a banyan tree leaf. When we got married and I got the thaali on my neck, I did not remove it even once until I had to, when I was giving birth to our baby. 🙂 And I remember being slightly upset about that, because I felt like THAT would have been one of those important moments to wear my necklace. Then the baby was pulling my thaali painfully I tried to hide it inside my blouse and I also ended up shortening it a little so that it would not hang so low for the little hands to reach.

    I don’t know how it happened, but I had to also change the chain (my husband assured me that the most important thing is the charm itself), because the beautifully made thin and soft gold plates started to get weaker and one link gave in and I almost dropped the thaali! Then when I started to run and workout regularly I started leaving it at home inside a locker. Nowadays I wear it only for special occasions since we also have wedding rings (our names engraved on the side where people can see it and I notice every now and then someone tries to read my ring :-).

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    • Hey Anniina,
      Lovely to hear from you!
      I have seen some photos of thaalis, very beautiful! I can totally understand how you felt when you had to remove your thaali during the birth of your baby, I had to remove my sindoor when we registered our marriage and it was horrible.

      Ooooh I bet your ring is gorgeous!
      I hope you, your husband and baby are well!
      Sending love xx

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  8. Lovely post! I got a small one. Living in the west and wearing no wedding ring raises questions. So I proudly present them my Mangalsutra :-). It has more value to me than a wedding ring.

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  9. And such a beautiful mangalsutra it is! Despite having one myself, it’s not quite traditional. In our family, women wear a mangalsutra and a pendant that represents the local Goddess. Mine mangalsutra was incorporated with this pendant, and also does not feature the two strings of beads on either side.
    I hope you feel confident when wearing it – as it looks beautiful, and is an incredible reminder of your married status. ♥

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