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South Indian jewellery trends - Tamil Bride

Tamil Nadu is the southernmost state of India, located at the tip of the Indian Peninsula. Famous for its classical dance, music, temples, architecture, food, movies, hill stations and pilgrim centres, a trip to Tamil Nadu is an item worthy of your bucket list. It's a land steeped in ancient Dravidian culture, and its language, Tamil, is one of the oldest classical languages still widely spoken in the world.

When one hears the words South India - Madras, idli, vada, sambar and Bharatanatyam are the images that jump to the mind. And when one pictures a South Indian bride - the Tamil bride in her rich Kanjeevaram sari, wearing heavy gold jewellery, plaited hair bedecked with flowers, is what one imagines.

As the song ‘Sita Kalyanam Vaibhogame' resounds through the air, the Tamil bride in her silk kanjeevaram saree looks resplendent like goddess Sita at her wedding with Lord Rama. The Iyer and Iyengar Brahmins wear a nine-yard ‘Madisar' in bright hues with thick gold borders. The bridal jewellery is mainly temple jewellery with intricately carved huge pendants with figures of Gods and Goddesses, mainly Krishna, Karthikeya, Ganesha and Gaja Lakshmi. Crocodiles, swans, parrots, peacocks, serpents, elephants, lotus, “Gopurams”, mangoes or mythical creatures such as Yali, Makara feature extensively in temple style jewellery. Jewellery is made of antique gold or yellow gold with kemp stones or rubies and other precious stones. These are mainly crafted in the village of Vadasery in Tamil Nadu by master craftsmen in their ‘Pattarais' (workshops).

The head is heavily adorned with several ornaments. The ‘Thalai Saman' includes the ‘Nethi Chutti' or ‘Vagupu chutti' which includes the maang tikka in the middle hair partition and broad belt on either side which borders the forehead and frames the face. The ‘Suryapirai' and ‘Chandrapirai' resembling the sun and the moon are worn on either side of the hair partition. These are made of gold, kemp stones or rubies, emeralds and pearls. The ‘Rakkadi' holds the hair bun in place, and the ‘Jadanagam' or ‘Hair serpent' graces the long braid. ‘Kunjam' which is made of three black cloth balls, is tied to the end of the braid to complete the look.

The armlet called ‘Vanki' is in the shape of an inverted V and is decorated with precious coloured stones. It may feature the figures of deities or sometimes the serpent in which case it is called a ‘Nagothu'. The bangles or ‘Valayal' can be ‘Kappu' made of solid gold or gold bangles embellished with rubies, diamonds and other precious stones. Nowadays, bangles in trendy designs and contemporary styles are widely available. The finger rings can be a ‘Mothiram' with the name of the spouse embossed on it or a V-shaped Vanki ring called ‘Neli', made of gold and decorated with rubies and emeralds. Though keeping with the latest trends, many millennials prefer diamond rings which are in vogue today.

Choker necklace called ‘Addigai' is made of white stones or with leaf-like motifs and are called ‘Kodi Addigai'. The necklaces called ‘Harams' or ‘Malais' are usually ‘Maanga Malai' which is made of mango shaped motifs, ‘Kodi Malai' made of leaf motifs, ‘Kaasu Malai' made of gold coins. The kaasu malai sometimes contains motifs of goddess Lakshmi engraved on it and is called ‘Lakshmi Malai'. ‘Pulinaga Malai' is made of Pulinagam or motifs in the shape of tiger claws. ‘Sangili' is a long gold chain worn with huge ornate pendants. ‘Malligai Arumbu Malai' is a choker or mid-length chain with motifs of jasmine buds. ‘Chandra Harams' with multiple layers of gold chains made of round gold beads with or without bejewelled pendants is an eternal favourite. ‘Makara Kanti Harams' with huge pendants studded with precious gems and rubies, ‘Contrakaram', ‘Chavadi' are some other choices. ‘Muthu Malai' and ‘Linga Padakka Muthu Malai' are made of strings of pearl. The latter ends in a large gold pendant consisting of a Shivling encrusted with emerald and encompassed with peacock and lotus designs.

The earrings are traditionally huge bell-shaped ‘Jhimki Maattel' made of gold, rubies, emerald and pearl. Jhimki is the earring while Maattel is the golden chain that is latched to the hair. The nose ring can be a simple ‘Mookuthi', a stud of single gemstone or uncut diamond, ‘Besari' a more elaborate stud with eight stones or ‘Bullaku' which contains an additional drop that hangs over the cupid's bow.
The ‘Thali' or ‘Thirumangalyam' is tied by the groom around the bride's neck during the ceremony and consists of two or more gold amulets on a yellow thread. The shape of the amulets differs according to caste. Some have round coins called ‘Bottu', while others have shivlings or conch and chakra, leaf-shaped pendants, figures of deities etc. Christians have a cross on their thali.

The waist belt called ‘Oddiyanam' which keeps the sari in place is made of gold or silver and often has elaborate figures of Gods and is beautifully decorated with pearls, diamonds, rubies and precious stones. Some designs may have layers of delicate chains attached to the belt to further accentuate the waist and hip.

Tamil brides do not wear gold below the waist as it is considered disrespectful and inauspicious. Therefore, the anklets ‘Kolusu' is made of silver. ‘Iypon Kolusu' made of 5 metals or anklets made of uncut diamonds or rubies are also quite popular. Slipping the toe ring called ‘Metti', also made of silver, by the groom, is an integral part of the wedding ceremony.

Although gold is much loved and widely preferred, the new bridal trends show a growing affinity towards Kundan and Polki jewellery made of uncut diamonds with an antique finish.
You can find all this and much more at the “Muhurat” floor in Kalyan Jewellers. An entire floor dedicated to bridal jewellery from different regions of India.