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Wedding Jewellery - The Maharashtrian Bride

The full rivers, the deep sea and the tall mountains have all shaped the cultural and visual aesthetics of Maharashtra. So much so that the Maharashtrian bride, has a distinct style that pays homage to her heritage.

Dressed in a nine-yard Paithani sari the Maharashtrian bride looks radiant like Goddess Parvati . When it comes to jewellery, both pearls and gold are an integral aspect of her bridal trousseau.

The Mangalsutra or the ‘holy thread’ made of black beads and gold spun together, is the most important piece of jewellery for the bride. The groom ties the Mangalsutra around the bride’s neck during the marriage ceremony. The pendant is made of gold beads and one or two inverted gold bowls called vatis. The Kolhapuri Saaj is akin to the Mangalsutra in Kolhapur and Southern parts of Maharashtra. It is a signature piece of Maharashtrian jewellery, unique in its design.

It consists of an inner part made of gold beads or Jav Mani interspersed with 21 leaf shaped motifs. Ten of these motifs are engraved with the figures of 10 avatars of Lord Vishnu. Eight are engraved with 'Ashtamangal' or 8 auspicious signs. The outer part consists of a thread woven through these leaves and contains the pendant called Kirti Mukh which typically contains a red ruby in the centre. It’s the good luck charm to ward off evil.

The Dorla Mangalsutra is made of several strings of black beads attached to a large gold pendant with a ruby in the centre. The pendant is attached via gold beads of 'Jav Mani'. The nose ring or Nath is distinctive as it combines gold, pearls, rubies, emeralds and other precious stones. The Brahmhani Nath is paisley shaped and is saliently Maharashtrian. The Karwari Nath is crescent shaped and has a South Indian influence.
Both the bride and the groom tie the Mundavlya on their forehead. It consists of two strands of pearl tied horizontally to the forehead and two strands hanging to the chin from either side. The hair is neatly tied into a tight bun which is then bedecked with jasmine flowers. The hair bun is also decorated with a hairpin called Ambada Veni Phool. It is a crescent-shaped gold ornament in floral designs, studded with rubies, diamonds and other precious stones
The traditional Thushi choker, is unique to Maharashtra and is exclusively crafted in Kolhapur following the same design principles of the Peshwa Dynasty that ruled region. Tiny gold beads are fed into multiple strings that are joined together. The strings are then twisted and turned to form a close-packed structure of gold beads which forms the choker. Thushi is often interpreted in many ways – the ones with a ruby, emerald or a diamond in the center or as a long or short necklace and sometimes made exclusively from pearls, and known as the Moti Thushi .

There is another kind of Thushi – one which uses long golden pipe like hollow instead of beads. This choker is called the Hasli or Chandrakor Pipe Thushi. It usually has a pendant in the centre decorated with coloured gemstones and diamonds.

Earrings called Kudya are traditionally pearls arranged in a flower pattern with a gold base, although hanging jhumka earrings are also quite popular. Parijat Kudi is another traditional ear stud with a red ruby encased in a gold base in a floral pattern. Bugadi is an ear clip made of gold and pearls or embellished with precious gemstones in floral designs. It is clipped to the Helix or upper part of the ear. Some brides wear a Kaan chain which is made of strings of small pearls attached to the earring, and the other end is latched onto the hair.
The bride wears armlets called Vaaki on both the arms. It is made of gold and studded with red ruby, diamonds and other gemstones. The bangles or Choodas consists of green glass bangles worn in odd numbers on each hand. It symbolises fertility and hence is considered auspicious. Two kadas of solid gold called Tode, in elaborate designs, sometimes adorned with diamonds or coloured gemstones, are gifted to the bride by the groom. Moti Tode are made of pearls and gemstones. Patlya are broad and flat bangles in intricate designs. Pichodi bangles are made in the Pichodi pattern which consists of one smooth round edge and another elaborately carved one.

Bangles in contemporary designs and white gold are also quite popular. Silver anklets called Painjan adorn the bride’s feet decorated with henna. Silver toe-ring called Jodvi is gifted to the bride by her mother-in-law as a sign of blessing and acceptance. Chinchpeti is a pearl choker necklace interspersed with several decorated pendants. The Kolhapuri Belpan Tik is another choker made with motifs of the Bel leaves and usually has a ruby or a pink stone in the central motif. The Bel leaves are considered sacred, and so this necklace has a spiritual significance.

Surya Haar is another choker made of pointed motifs resembling the rays of the sun. The Champakali Haar is a flower necklace made of elongated motifs resembling jasmine buds. Another favourite is the Lakshmi haar or Putli haar made up of gold coins each with the motif of goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. Tanmani is a choker or long chain made of several strings of pearl attached to a broad gold pendant with multicoloured stones. Bor Maal is made of single or double strings of oval gold beads. Mohan Maal is made of several strings of round gold beads.
Jav Mani Saaj is made of jav mani or big striped gold beads of varying sizes and a large gold pendant with a ruby in the centre. The Rani Haar or queen's necklace is a long chain made of several strands of pearl or gold beads and has a large pendant studded with rubies, diamonds and emeralds. Jondhale Haar is made of small gold beads resembling the jowar grains. Sari is a unique Maharashtrian necklace made of thin gold wires which are fabricated into intricate designs by twisting and bending these wires. The Dholki necklace is made of elongated bicone beads called 'Dholki beads' which loosely resemble the Maharashtrian hand drum called Dholki.

Moongachi maal, Kothameerechi maal and Rudraksha maal each with different shapes of gold beads is also quite popular. Although gold and pearls along with diamonds and precious gemstones are traditional, the millennial brides favour more contemporary styles such as Kundan and Polki made with uncut diamonds and antique gold. Yellow gold and diamond jewellery are also in vogue.

You can find all this and more at Kalyan Jewellers, Muhurat floor. An entire floor dedicated to bridal jewellery from different regions of India.