Women go gaga over glass bangles

Ethnic

Women go gaga over glass bangles

One of the Fancy stores in Mysore which displays colourful bangles. DH PHOTO

Indian women and bangles are inseparable since time immemorial. Bangles, especially those made of glass are considered  very auspicious and the clinking sound of the glass bangles, that are available in various colours and hues is a sure an added attraction. Moreover, it is also considered to bring luck, prosperity and long life for the husband of the bride.

Bangles, which are referred to as ‘Bale’ in Kannada, ‘Valayal’ in Tamil, ‘Gajulu’ in Telugu and ‘Chudiyan’ in HIndi, have been a part of tradition in the Indian culture. Bangles are often part of auspicious  ceremonies where women get to buy and wear them in groups. Though there are various types of bangles like glass, clay, silver, gold, platinum, ferrous and other metals, it is the glass bangles that are loved by majority,  not only because they are less expensive but also for their lovely sound, colours, despite the fact that there are limited designs and varieties. 

Glass bangles play an important role in a woman’s life, right from their birth till her last breath. While the newborn baby is adorned with the small black bangles to ward of evil’s eye, the colour of the bangles change as the girl grows up.

 It is really a visual treat to watch young girls, especially children wearing glass bangles on both wrists, dressed in traditional silk lehanga, blouse and complemented with the jewellery and flowers walking around with the sound of anklets echoing across the house. It sure is a blessing. The green and red coloured bangles are considered to be auspicious and are used almost in all rituals like weddings, ‘seemantha’, a special occasion for pregnant women due for delivery among others.

There is an interesting story woven around the bangles that are worn during weddings. It is said that the smallest size of bangles possible are worn by the brides using soap and water to slide them on to the wrist.  The smaller the bangles, the longer they lasts. It is also believed that the honeymoon continues till the bangles are broken!

Bangles play an important role also during ‘seemantha’, after which the pregnant women is sent to her parent’s place for the delivery of her first child. The woman is decked up with dozens of bangles given by every woman in the family, neighbours and friends, who wish her luck.If a married woman meets her untimely end, she is also given farewell with the glass bangles. Broken bangles are considered unlucky and are made to discard them immediately.

There was a time when men selling glass bangles were in great demand among womenfolk, but they have vanished and now every nook and corner of the area has a fancy store selling a variety of bangles under one roof. Slowly, the transformation has begun as today’s women who often multi-task find it difficult to wear glass bangles everyday. They have switched on to bangles made of fibre, metals and ferrous coated oxidised silver bangles which are trendy and last for long. College-going girls opt for trendy bracelets and men too find it ‘masculine’ to wear a thick gold kada, which is now replaced with thick bracelets or copper kadas depending on their age and profession.

Whatever the changes are, the attraction of these old age glass bangles has not diminished. This can be proved with one look at the markets and nearby fancy stores during Gowri/Ganesha and Deepavali festivals. Women still go ga ga over these colourful cylindrical wonders.Abdul Gafoor, who is in the trade of selling bangles from the past 75 years across three generations said recalled those moments in 1970’s when bangle sellers were treated with much respect and bangles were given the place of goddess Lakshmi. The women used to seek the blessings of the ‘balegara’ to be ‘suhagan’ till their death. Later, glass bangles lost their demand from 1985 to 95 as metal bangles like oxidised and others gained popularity. But from the past five years glass bangles have again regained their place, thanks to the television serials, he adds with a beaming smile. Recalling those days when the plain glass bangles that were sold at 60 paise per dozen, it was slowly increased to Rs 1.60 per dozen. Now there are bangles that are sold from Rs 900 to Rs 9,000, which includes wedding set with lovely stone work. The marvaris who were used to Kangans are also now inclined towards matching glass bangles, and the business is extremely good.

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