We are all familiar with the term ‘Solah Shringar’. Bollywood songs and common folklore have made sure that we at least have an idea of what Solah Shringar entails. But what we don’t know is that it has a deeper connection. There is a historical as well as a mythological connection to the term Solah Shringar.
It is believed that there is a logical alliance between the lunar cycle and women’s menstrual cycle. Hindus believe that the moon’s 16 phases have a negative effect on the menstrual cycle of women. Thus, to nullify the opposed effects the 16 embellishments are worn which correspond to the moon’s 16 phases.
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Interestingly, the ‘Shri’ in Shringar is another name for Goddess Lakshmi and this means that every new bride to be is considered as Lakshmi who will bestow their new family with health, wealth and happiness. Additionally, the wedding day for the bride marks her official entry into adulthood and therefore, to celebrate this occasion, she is gifted with 16 embellishments.
So here is the detailed explanation of ‘Solah Shringar’
Pre-Shringar – the divine bath
The ceremonies of the wedding for the bride begin with a beatific bath. Firstly, the bride’s tresses are oiled thoroughly and then washed with different herbs like Shikakai, Brahmi, Aloe vera, Amla, Bhringraj, etc. Thereafter, a concoction of milk, oil, turmeric powder, sandalwood powder, gram flour and a few naturally scented herbs is applied on her hands, legs, arms, face, etc. In India, it is called, “Ubtan”. This is considered to be a huge ceremony for the bride’s family. It also ensures that the bride will be glowing by the time she is readied for the pheras.
Post bath, the bride’s hair is dried, styled and adorned with flowers. If myths are to be believed, a woman can easily enchant her man with her beautiful hair.
The maang tika, as we all know, is worn on the head, in the center, where the hair parting begins. It may be made of any material like silver, gold, precious stones, etc. I think this is the most important ornament as it takes the look of the bride to a different level altogether!
Did you know, the maang tika is worn as it represents the third-eye of the goddess?
Sindoor is considered to be the most significant ornament of a married woman (it is not an ornament technically but has much more significance than all the other jewels for the married women). For most of the Hindu women, it is compulsory to wear it. It represents their marriage and is also a sign of power and fertility.
Bindi has a very strong implication. It is considered to be a sacred symbol for married women. It is basically a round red dot which is placed on the forehead in the center. Bindi symbolizes the dedication of a wife towards her husband.
Kohl is also considered to be a very important part of the ‘Solah Shringar’ regime. It enhances the glow in the eyes of the bride.
A nose ring or nath as we know it is something an Indian woman puts on before she gets married and carries it throughout her life. It is a symbol of marital bliss.
Earrings are the most commonly worn ornament and for a bride they are just indispensable.
There are different types of necklaces which are worn by the Indian women as a symbol denoting their marital status. Mangal sutra is most commonly worn by women across the north and western region of India while, in the southern states, married women wear ‘thali’ necklace.
It is needless to say that a mangal sutra is another cogent adornment for a bride which she needs to carry all throughout her life. It is presented to the bride by her husband.
Armlet is worn on the upper-arm. This ornament does not have any definitive significance but is definitely on the list of the solah shringar.
Bangles are the most prominent sign of a marriage and thus the bride wears a lot of bangles on her wedding day. You will find most of the Hindu married woman flaunting colorful bangles even in their day to day lives.
Mehendi is an inseparable part of a wedding. No Hindu wedding can be complete without a mehendi ceremony. It is applied on every auspicious occasion and thus it has its own share of importance.
Hathphool ( Ornamental flowers for hands)
You must have seen a lot of Hindu brides wearing a lot of rings in her fingers which are all attached to each other with a string. They also do not possess any special significance, but they make the bride’s hands look beautiful and adorned.
Aarsi is the humongous ring which is worn on the thumb. The most traditional aarsi hasa mirror embedded on it so that the bride may look at herself and her would-be-husband in that mirror because during old times the brides used to take a yashmak and thus could not see their would be husband’s face directly.
Another significant ornament for the bride is the waistband. The bride wears it around her waist. It gives a very delicate look to her waist and also helps in holding the lehenga in place.
The modern day anklets are the traditional payal which are worn on both the feet. They generally have ghungroo attached to them which make a pleasant noise when the bride walks.
Toe rings are worn on the fingers of the feet. The number of toe rings depends on the bride’s choice. She may wear 1, 2 or 3 pairs of these tiny trinkets.