Weddings are incomplete with so many things immensely and absolutely necessary to their very solemnisation and extended celebration that keeping a tab on all what marks the beginning of this journey hopefully steeped in all the colors of life makes for a massive task in itself. And when the particular ritualistic occurrence happens to be one taking the Indian route in celebration and conduct, the list only tends to be even inexhaustive. From rituals to traditions, from wearing and being to eating and rejoicing, Indian weddings are necessarily embedded in a range of expressions at once dynamic and sober and essential and extravagant.
Part of what makes weddings the definer of what is to dawn upon the bride and the groom in their future existence in togetherness might be rooted in things sacrosanct and revered. But a great part of it also delves into the range of the aesthetics. The bridal trousseau in particular is one of the most significant ‘shows’ of a wedding and not just in its lavish prettiness though. Crafted out of the continuing legacy of a heritage intertwining auspiciousness and symbolism are the many traditional assertions through which Indian brides embark upon their path to conjugal bliss. And deeply embedded in their flourish of the traditional dress and the preciousness of their traditional jewelry are such elements that are inevitably sought out across the fore of every single ceremony marking the nuptials for a realisation in love and life too coveted to be dared interfere with.
One of the more traditional trends encountered across the unfurling of marriages in our country happens to be a piece of jewelry that though is not exclusive just to India or not even to the entirety of it. Called the maang tika or the matha patti and identifying as a specimen that adorns the forehead of the bride, this very exquisite display in history, heritage and ancientry is today not an entirely bridal treasure as well. Also often experimented with in contemporary fashion circles both by Indian women and celebrities of the west as a funky accessory to step up one’s fashion game, the maang tika continues to be a fascinating mode of fashioning oneself in the true glamour of the Indian identity.
As striking as it might be in both the evolution of its essence and the expression of its elegance, the maang tika is in fact a simple jewelry with a hairpin on one end and some sort of a pendant on the other end of a chain meant to be worn along the hairline such that the ornament is what shows somewhere on or upon the forehead as per the style of its wearing. With traditional types and variations of them seeking to each be somewhat different from the other while modern interpretations tending to make allowance for no lesser variety as regards the fashion projection of them, maang tikas today are a fashion jewelry equally catering to brides and non brides alike in all their grace and glamour as well as in style and sophistication even when it doesn’t really make for an ordinary everyday staple in accessorising.
First things first though, the desires for fashion sure had not been the consideration for maang tikas to explore when they started out some 5000 years ago as is evident from its depiction in ancient paintings and sculptures. Back then it also was a unisex hair ornament, not very surprising given how ancient Hindu scriptures eked out mythological a basis of their being intended to sit upon that place of the forehead where is present the sixth chakra called the ajna chakra. Symbolising therefore the mind’s eye or the power of the soul, and presenting a unification of the half male half female entity, the ardhanarishvara, this placing of the maang tika had been essential therefore in endowing upon it a significance of spiritual, bodily and emotional nature, making it an element in holistically standing for the ideals of what sums up life across its various essences.
Translating thus to take upon prominence more precisely along the sacred space of marriage has been this maang tikka that encompasses also the larger unification of two individuals across all aspects of their lives that they would now on share as one. When worn by a bride, the maang tikka is believed to activate that primal point in concentration and wisdom while harnessing also her innate courage and will power as necessary attributes along the living of a journey fostered in holy unification. And hence it manifests, this important ingraining of the maang tikka as a case in classic accessorising today for many a brides all over the length and breadth of the country and even beyond that she dons indeed in as much fashion as she does in all the anticipation of a marriage as happy years after as it is in the moment of its happening.
The case established in ceremonial significance, we now concentrate on the style element of what makes the maang tikka so favoured a piece of traditional jewelry that dominates the scene in traditional and even not so traditional celebrations of weddings and marriages and the like. To outline most specifically such styles that can be considered as traditional in all prominent prevalence of them and uniquely identifiable as well in the regional and/ or religional context has us specifically draw upon a couple distinct types called the borla or the bor and the passa or the jhumar tikka. A case though should also be made for the mattha patti which happens to be the maang tikka indeed but with some added flair and flamboyance further upping its ante in presentation.
The bor is a very definitely shaped round maang tikka sported by women of the northern Indian states of Haryana and Rajasthan as a signature style that encompasses everyone from the royalite to the commoners. Distinct in its peculiar spherical pendant that comes embedded with beads and stones, the simple but elegant borla makes for a great dangler upon foreheads with middle parted hair, sitting there as a statement making piece in itself in utter convenience. What makes the borla even versatile a maang tikka style in all its ethnicity intact as well, is again its minimalist vibe which makes it a great option not just for brides but for just about anyone wanting to sport the centerpiece at just about every occasion.
If the borla is a consideration in central setting and convenient seating, then on the other end of the spectrum we have the jhumar maang tikka to assert the aesthetics in profusion. Unmissable indeed a presence in its ethereal beauty and one that uniquely dangles from the side of the head rather than dedicatedly up front and center is this traditional bridal ornament of the Muslim woman that today is a fad much explored. Heavily embellished as well thus rendering them very apt pieces of traditional bridal jewelry are these jhumar tikka or passas that however can be paired up with the more classic style maang tikka as well. Of course the key is to strike a balance so as to not let the gorgeousness of tradition overshadow the very assertion of the bride herself. Very royal and ravishing and resplendent in their spotlight stealing sighting, this is one stunning version of the staple wedding element that commands a following irrespective of its standing along the trails of tradition.
Matha pattis on the other hand would occur as elaborate styles of the simple maang tikka which itself can however be made to be as ornamental and standout as desired. In their definite sophistication, this very royal looking ‘headgear’ of the matha patti is of particular prominence in south Indian weddings but not exclusively so. Generally rested in a more dressy allure pertaining of course to the traditional scheme in wearing, matha pattis are necessarily defined by the strap or bands (pattis) that rest upon the hairline or even some distance away from it with also the focal attraction of the pendant endowing upon this whole piece of accessory an accentuated charm in definitely bridal jewelling. Within that classic premise, there of course can prevail styles and types and variations and kinds differently appealing to different brides, all however rest assured of donning the ultimate charm through this single piece of what characterise as essential fashion.
From simple and minimal to intricate and elaborate, from classic charm to classy chic, from pretty aesthetics to sublime sophistication, maang tikkas emerge as a choice in adorning and accessorising that today goes beyond the scope of their ritualistic and symbolic interpretation. Fused also with different elements of style and myriad taking to trends as floral mediums of contemporary jewelry but also parallelly flourishing through the vintage vibes of exquisite emeralds and pretty pearls not to mention equally numerous a penchant for even the oft sported and the commonplace but never any obsolete or less stunning elements and maang tikkas continue to dominate the pious span of the bridal forehead as a marker of luck, love and life in all its significance as well as in its uniqueness as a not yet mass fashion.