Is it you for whom the wedding bells toll? If matrimonial bliss is soon heading your way, the mangalsutra magic won’t be far behind. But just what kind of a mangalsutra should you wear? These days the options are so plentiful and the styles so diverse, you might have to take a deep breath and brace yourself when you decide which style you want to make your own.
A ‘mangalsutra’ is the piece of necklace that married Hindu women wear around their necks. It is a symbol of unity between a man and a woman. Mangal means holy and sutra means thread. This age-old auspicious symbol has been prescribed by Indian sages like Manu and Adi Shankara since the dawn of Indian civilization and still remains a popular icon identifying a Hindu married woman in India, and in places across the world with Hindu diaspora. A mangalsutra is worn to cast out the evil energy that may potentially harm the happy marriage of a couple and is gifted by the groom to the bride.
Today’s Indian woman has umpteen choices in picking any style of mangalsutra that she likes. From traditional designs to more modern motifs, the market abounds with various interpretations of the holy thread to cater to every woman’s preference. One style doesn’t have to fit all. Let’s take a look at a variety of mangalsutra designs and styles.
1. Traditional gold and black bead mangalsutra
Majority of Indian women who are sticklers for custom wear a standard 22K gold and black bead mangalsutra. Of course, the styles and motifs vary according to regions, but the basics remain the same. The chain is made of gold and black beads and the central pendant is an elaborately designed, geometrically shaped gold pendant.
2. Diamond mangalsutra
When the budget is no matter and elegance is the keyword, women go for the diamond-studded mangalsutra or tanmaniya that looks much like a diamond necklace, except it has the ubiquitous mangalsutra black bead chain that holds the pendant together. Pendant styles could range from floral designs, crescent, star and heart shapes.
3. Bracelet mangalsutra
A contemporary way of displaying marital bliss, bracelet mangalsutras have been immensely popularised by famous Indian celebs sporting them on a regular basis. A simple bead bracelet with a central gold or diamond motif serves as the symbol of marriage while being as non-intrusive as can be. Modern women have starting opting for this unconventional style of mangalsutra which is now gaining widespread acceptance.
4. Multi-colored mangalsutra
Multi-colored mangalsutras are made with a fusion of colors. Elaborate pendants have floral, animal or traditional designs with a variety of colored precious and semi-precious gemstones. Colored beads are mixed in with the standard black and gold beads. The whole shebang is artfully created to draw the eyes. If you are married and a fan of ethnic Indian costumes and outfits, buy a multi-colored mangalsutra to add a splash of colors to your look.
5. Kundan mangalsutra
Kundan mangalsutras are a classy and ethnic way to exhibit the bond of sacred matrimony. These can be heavily ornate mangalsutra with a motif encrusted with pearls and stones, or simple ones with a row of precious stones stringed together with black beads. When worn with heavy sarees, ghagra choli or designer salwar kameez, the kundan mangalsutra efficiently complements your traditional and royal look.
6. Simple and minimal mangalsutra
If you’re a bride who doesn’t believe in over-the-top displays of wedding totems, the minimal mangalsutra should be your weapon of choice. A thin linked gold chain with little black beads or a row of black beads with a small pendant looks elegant and because it is understated in its appearance, goes with almost any kind of outfit you wear.
7. Layered mangalsutra
Strings of black and gold beads gently woven together forming a necklace like mangalsutra or three layers of beads hanging low from the neck with distinct side motifs, just some styles to try if you are not interested in adorning yourself with the regular avatars of traditional mangalsutras. Try this style in black and gold beads, pearl drops and diamond strings.
8. Mangalsutra ring
The newest style to try if you’d like a combination of a wedding band and a mangalsutra. The mangalsutra ring is an up and coming wedding band style popular among contemporary women and millennial couples who want to step away from the traditional heavyweight mangalsutra designs and ease into a completely compact matrimonial symbol that holds the essential traditional element of the mangalsutra. Circled with black beads and gold with a row of diamonds, the mangalsutra rings looks a lot like a mangalsutra except it’s on your ring finger.
9. Antique mangalsutra
Mangalsutra that are made with extraordinary craftsmanship in traditional and vintage styles such as temple jewellery style or elaborate filigree work. These are usually big and chunky with bulky pendants made of 22k gold and multiple black bead rows, with handcrafted motifs on geometrical shapes, including triangular, rectangular and circular gold framework. Although you may not be tempted to wear it on a daily basis, come festivals or occasions, antique mangalsutras stand out and bring forth the goddess in you.
10. Pearl mangalsutra
Pearl mangalsutras can be crafted to fit any style, traditional or modern. Heavy mangalsutra with kundankari and pearl drops are for the special occasions and parties, while simple station style mangalsutra necklace with pearl drops can serve to adorn you on a regular basis. A simple gold, pearl and black bead mangalsutra is a classic style you can choose if you aren’t too picky about the latest mangalsutra styles and trends.
11. Coin mangalsutra
A favorite of the South Indian women, a coin necklace is simply a row of overlapping coins suspended under a block of gold. The coins usually have an engraved image of a goddess. If a whole row of coins looks and feels too heavy, you can opt for three overlapping coins that look elegant and contemporary. Even if you’re not from the south, the style can be adapted too.
12. Mangalsutra with religious and animal motifs
A little ganesha encrusted in jewels, an elaborate peacock, the classic Radha and Krishna tanmaniya or a bunch of doves, fish or even corals, anything with a spiritual, religious or animal motif can go nicely when crafted into a unique mangalsutra style. Nowadays, modern and minimal versions with holy or sacred symbology are quite the rage as they bring together the best of both the worlds.
13. New-age mangalsutra
Conceptual mangalsutra is yet another contemporary way to go if you do not want anything resembling a traditional mangalsutra and want to be different from other brides. Choose gold geometric shapes with black beads so that the mangalsutra doesn’t end up looking like a regular necklace. Cubes, triangles, bars, spheres, anything goes in the new-age, free flow style of mangalsutras. A lot of women prefer metallic hues or even platinum to accompany the standard black beads.
14. Navratna mangalsutra
These are made with the historical nine gems of Hindu Vedas, colorful and vibrant, expertly crafted into crescent shapes or traditional motifs. These mangalsutras have spiritual significance and each of the nine gems has an astrological purpose to serve. The colors emanating from gems give such mangalsutra a glorious and attractive appeal.
15. Designer or personalised mangalsutra
Handcrafted special edition designer mangalsutras are often made by high-end jewellery designers and certain collections are created in house by famous jewellery brands. Additionally, you could choose your very own design and get it fashioned by a jeweller, giving a highly personal touch to your mangalsutra, the one that has a special sentimental value. Some enthusiastic brides choose to wear their husband’s name in form of a mangalsutra.
A gold/diamond mangalsutra can cost anywhere between Rs 8000 to Rs 50,000. Artificial or gold-plated mangalsutras start from Rs 300 onwards.
Wearing a mangalsutra is a custom which has been around since the 5th century CE and is still a ritual quite an essential part of a hindu wedding. But a lot of women don’t choose to wear a mangalsutra on a daily basis for several reasons. The traditional and chunky look and design don’t appeal to all, also the standard black and gold colors don’t go with more modern or hip and trendy western outfits. Contemporary fashion-conscious women who do not follow rules like they’re writ in stone, don’t always wear a mangalsutra. Although it’s a must-have, it is not always a ‘must wear’. In case if you are not intending to wear a mangalsutra regularly and don’t want to invest in an expensive one, you can opt for artificial mangalsutras which are good to wear occasionally.