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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The Style & Beauty of Rajasthani Women

The wedding I recently attended may have been in Maharashtra but it was in fact a Marwari wedding. The Marwari people are from Rajasthan, a state I am desperate to visit. The land of the legends, majestic fortresses and golden sand dunes. I cannot wait to one day visit the pink city (Jaipur) and the blue city (Jodhpur).

I love the Rajasthani fashion (the movie Jodha Akbar may have something to do with that!) so it was a treat for me to see hundreds of beautiful Rajasthani women, dressed up in all their finery and get a glimpse of this vibrant culture!

Whilst my husband spent some time with the groom, I sat in the ladies dressing room and watched them all help each other drape their gorgeous sarees (whilst simultaneously trying to keep hold of some extremely cute and wiggly toddlers!). The Rajasthani style is a fusion between tribal and regal, the fantastic printed patterns mixed with splendid, heavy jewellery. These beautiful women are also extremely modest and cover their heads when in the presence of men or elders.

To cover their heads women either use the loose end from their saree (pallu) or use an odhni if they are wearing a ghagra (a long skirt worn with a top or blouse). The odhni is a speciality of Rajasthan, one end of this ten foot piece of fabric is tucked into the ghagra whilst the loose end is taken over the right shoulder and gracefully placed over the head. The colours and patterns are particular to their caste and the occasion.

The Rajasthani style is a fusion between tribal and regal, the fantastic printed patterns mixed with splendid, heavy jewellery. These beautiful women are also extremely modest and cover their heads when in the presence of men or elders.

A ghagra is a long skirt worn in Rajasthan, this style of skirt starts of narrow at the waist and as you go down it gradually increases in width and flares out. The width of the skirt and the number of pleats it forms is said to symbolise wealth and social status. If you spun around wearing one of these it would fly up and spin with you and you’d most probably feel like a princess.

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I could not keep up with the number of times the women from both extended families changed their outfits and during a couple of the ceremonies they all wore the same colour, which I found lovely, I was able to capture this beautiful photograph (above) when the bride’s family were officially greeting the grooms family.

The style of Rajasthan’s women is unique and extremely colourful, it was an absolute privilege to see these beautiful women dressed in their best. I would love to someday learn the stories behind those printed patterns and understand why specific colours are worn for specific occasions.

This is one of the enchanting things about my new home, there is so much diversity here in India, every state has its own culture, customs and festivals. There will always be another culture to discover, a tradition to be intrigued with and where ever you go in India, there will always be something that leaves you absolutely speechless.