Wednesday 30 September 2015

Rajputi jewellery: Rajputi bridal 'chooda' / 'choora' / 'chura'

The 'choora' / 'chooda' ceremony is an integral part of many weddings, esp north Indian weddings. Bollywood and popular culture has made the bridal chooda more popular than ever. A suhaag chooda or bridal chooda is a set of ceremonial bangles worn by a bride. Punjabi brides wear red and white bangles as shown below.

Punjabi bride Esha Deol wearing red white ceremonial bangles or punjabi chura

Rajputi Chooda Rajput women traditionally wore only ivory chooda. I have rarely come across a Rajput bride wearing red bangles with the white ivory chooda. Take a look at the picture below where a Rajput bride is wearing white chura with gold bangadi and paunchi. There are no red bangles. However, it must be noted that there is no rule against wearing red bangles with the traditional chura and women wear all kinds of churas these days although pure white chooda continues to be the most popular chooda among Rajputs. 

Rajput woman wearing white chooda, a bangadi and paunchi on her wedding 

White ivory bangles of Rajasthan White ivory bangles were traditionally worn on the entire hand i.e. on the arm as well. White bangles were popular all over Rajasthan and women continue to wear white plastic and lac bangles even today. Rajasthani women including Rajput women wore as many as 52 ivory bangles as a part of their wedding chooda. 
Tribal Gujarati woman wearing traditional white bangles

Owing to government prohibition on ivory, women wear chura made of either white or orange or multicolored plastic thick bangles. White plastic bangles with nakkashi are also worn. These days names of the bride and groom are also engraved on the chura.

White Rajputi chura: In many traditional families,bangles are worn only before the chura ceremony. They are removed when the white chura is worn but it is not mandatory to do so.

Friday 4 September 2015

Rajputi customs: Badi Teej and Gangaur

"Teej" refers to the "third" day that falls every month after the new moon (Amavasya), and the third day after the full moon night (Poornima) of every month. Various teejs are celebrated by Rajputs such as Akhateej (popularly known as Akshay Tritiya), Gangaur teej and Badi teej (also known as Kajari teej).

Some other popular teej festivals include Hartalika Teej (popularly known as Karwa Chauth), Haryali Teej (or Choti teej) etc.

This post focuses on one of the most important teej festivals celebrated by Rajput women in the monsoon season known as 'Badi Teej'. This teej is dedicated to the Goddess Parvati, commemorating her union with Lord Shiva. 

Goddess Parvati is known as 'Teej Mata' and 'Gangaur' in Rajasthan. According to Hindu mythology, it was only after years of tapasya that she was granted the boon to marry Lord Shiva. On this occasion, women seek her blessings for a happy married life and a good husband like Shiva. Women observe fast throughout the day, put mehendi on their hands, play under trees on swings and have lavish dinner in the evening. Sattus or flour & gramflour cakes are prepared and kept in the puja. They are consumed when women break the fast after the moon rise in the evening. 

Both Gangaur and Badi Teej festivals are celebrated by both married and unmarried women. However, Gangaur has special significance for unmarried women while Teej has special significance for married women. Gangaur is celebrated by all girls (especially after they hit puberty) praying for a life partner with qualities of lord Shiva. Teej is celebrated by all girls, especially married women, to pray for continuance of a good married life such as that of Goddess Parvati. 

It is because of this reason, married Rajput women compulsorily observe Teej Ajuna after their marriage. 

Gangaur is also dedicated to goddess Parvati and is celebrated for the same reason. However, there is one difference. On Gangaur, the entire Shiva family (aka Shiv parivaar) is worshiped along with Parvati (known as Gangaur).  It is mandatory to worship the entire Shiv parivaar and therefore, also placed alongside Gangaur idol are Shiva (known as Isar), and their son (known as Bhaaiyaa). In Rajput families, permanent wooden images of the three are painted afresh every year by reputed painters and worshiped for at least a month. Another difference between the idols of Teej and Gangaur is that the Parvati idol has a canopy during the Teej Festival (signifying her approaching the mandapam to marry Shiva) while the Gangaur idol does not have a canopy (signifying both pre-marriage and post marriage form of Parvati). 

Tuesday 18 August 2015

'Mojari' and 'Jooti' footwear

‘Mojaris’ are special kind of leather shoes. Mostly made using vegetable-tanned leather, uppers are made of one piece of leather or textile embroidered and embellished with brass nails, cowry shells, mirrors, bells and ceramic beads. Even the bonding from the upper to the sole is done by cotton thread that is not only eco-friendly but also enmeshes the leather fibers with great strength. Some product range also uses bright and ornate threads. [Source: Wikipedia]
                     Mojari shoes: Source: Wikimedia Commons [By Meena Kadri [CC BY 2.0
                      (], via Wikimedia Commons

Difference between 'Mojaris' and 'Jootis' / 'Juttis': Mojari is referred to a man's closed shoe with an extended curled toe, while as juttis have flat fronts. In juttis, rear is normally covered but mojari have an open look from behind.

Non-leather 'Jootis' made of synthetic material
Source: Wikimedia Commons [By MuLaN™ (Cropped from CIMG1455) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons]
Traditionally, rajput women wore Jootis while men wore Mojaris. Even today bridal jootis are worn with Poshaaks although modern heeled shoes have become quite common.
'Multani Khussa': A cross between Jootis and Mojaris i.e. mojaris which are not open from behind are known as 'Multani Khussas'. However, in India, the term 'jooti' is used for khussas.

'Multani Khussa' (popularly known as jooti in India)
Source: Wikimedia Commons [By Meena Kadri [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons]


Monday 17 August 2015

Rajputi jewellery: 'Thewa' jewellery

'Thewa' / 'Theva' jewellery involves embossing of intricately worked-out sheet gold on molten glass. It evolved in Pratapgarh district of Rajasthan India. According to the Wikipedia , Thewa is a traditional art of fusing 23K Gold with multicoloured glass. The glass is treated by a special process to have glittering effects, which in turn highlights the intricate gold work.  The process of making thewa work is detailed; time consuming and intricate, taking up to a month to complete each piece.

Thewa glass plate depicting two peacocks
Source: Wikipedia

The artwork on the glass plate is very intricate and Rajasthani in nature. The artists take immense pride in embossing forts, battlescenes and birds and animals of Rajasthan on the glass  plates. Depiction of peacocks, camels and elephants is very common.

Traditionally, thewa jewellery consisted of thewa glass plate (shown above) attached with matching beads to make necklaces and earrings. Todayy, the glass plate is used as a base to create all kinds of modern jewellery.

'Suhaag' jewellery is a term used for jewellery specifically gifted to a bride on her wedding. The woman continues wearing suhaag jewellery throughout her married life. It includes bichiya and aad.   However, thewa jewellery is not specifically associated with any occasion. One of the reasons could be the fact that unlike traditional gold jewellery, thewa art is relatively new. However, it has become extremely popular in Rajasthan, especially in Pratapgarh district and nearby areas. In fact, thewa cuff links, bracelets etc. are worn by men as well.

Friday 14 August 2015

Rajputi jewellery: 'Bichiya' or toe rings and 'Paayal' / 'Paayejeb' or anklets

'Bichiya' or toe rings were traditionally worn only in the long toe after marriage. Also, unmarried women were forbidden to wear them as they signified consummation of marriage. Bichiyas or a pair of toe rings for the long toe are inevitably gifted to a woman on the eve of her wedding. In the picture, a toe ring is being worn on the day of the wedding.

Source: Wikimedia Commons [By Karthik Murugan (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons] 

This tradition is still followed religiously by Rajputs who prefer gold bichiyas instead of silver ones. A married woman is generally not supposed to take off toe rings worn in the long toe. She is free to wear toe rings in other toes as well.

'Paayal' / 'Paayejeb' are anklets and gold anklets are gifted to a bride along with the 'bichiyas'.

Woman wearing gold Paayal
Source: Wikimedia Commons [By Bollywoodaustralia [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons]

Thursday 13 August 2015

Rajputi jewellery: 'Nath', 'Nathni' and traditional nose studs

Traditional nose rings and nose pins of various sizes are popular in Rajasthan. Rajput women prefer gold nose rings / nose pins with studded diamonds or gemstones.

If the gold hoop ring covers the lips, the nose ring is known as a 'nath' while smaller ones are known as 'nathni'. However, these days the term 'nath' refers to all kinds of nose rings irrespective of the size. 

Small gold 'nathni' with studded diamonds

Traditional nath
Source: Wikimedia Commons [By Hiart (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons]

The nath design shown above is depicted in the famous 'Bani Thani' paintings of Rajasthan and is extremely popular in Rajasthan. Shown below is the 'Bani Thani' painting of Rajasthan by Nihal Chand. 

'Bani Thani' wearing traditional nath


Often a string of pearls or gold is attached from the nath / nathni and pinned to the hair as shown below. 

[By Prakhar Amba from Grenoble, France (Bride) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons]

.Rajasthani nose studs: Traditional nose studs are made of gold with studded diamonds and other precious jewels. They  have intricate designs and are available in all shapes and sizes.

Source: Pinterest

Wednesday 12 August 2015

Rajputi jewellery: 'Timaniya'

Timaniya / Tanmani / Trimani: So much confusion shrouds this piece of jewelry, that it deserves as separate post. This kind of jewellery known as 'Timaniya' in Rajasthan, 'Trimani' in Hyderabad and 'Tanmani' in Maharashtra. The term literally means 'three gemstones' and is derived from hindi words 'tri' (meaning three) 'mani' (meaning gemstones). This is exactly why it has evolved to refer to different kinds of choker necklaces these days.

Rajasthani Timaniya: Traditionally, the term 'Timaniya' was used for 'mini aad' or a choker which looks a lot like 'aad' as shown below. Please note that an  'aad' (much bigger than the mini aad) was never referred to as a 'timaniya' and the term timaniya was only used for a mini aad shown below.

Later, the term was applied to chokers made of uncut diamonds irrespective of whether they were designed like an aad. These were also known as 'tewta'.

Source: Pinterest

Timaniya, Tanmani and Trimani jewellery: As stated earlier, this kind of jewellery is also popular in Maharashtra, Hyderabad and other parts of India. In Maharashtra, it is known as 'Tanmani' and in Hyderabad it is known as 'Trimani' or 'Tirmani'.

Hyderabadi Trimani / Tirmani
Source: Pinterest
These days the terms 'timaniya', 'tanmani', 'tirmani' are used for small diamond pendants as shown below:

Therefore, if a jeweller ends up showing you small diamond pendants when you ask for a 'timaniya', don't complain. The term denotes all kinds choker necklaces and gemstone pendants these days.