The tradition of wearing of bangles in India began in ancient times. And, even today, womenfolk love to enhance their feminine grace and beauty with the help of bangles that are available in variety of forms
History of Bangles in India
There are strong evidences that shows that women have been adorning their arms with bangles since ancient times in India. One of the oldest art objects in India, the bronze figurine of a dancing girl excavated at Mohanjodaro epitomizes the antiquity and the universality of wrist ornaments in India. The figurine stands in the nude with one arm at her hip, the other arm completely weighed down with a collection of bangles. Even the Yakshinis are depicted wearing bangles. Banabhatt's Kadambari has a reference to Goddess Saraswati - Goddess of Learning, shown as wearing kangans.
Ancient fragments testify that bangles were made from terracotta, stone, shell, copper, bronze, gold, silver, lac, glass and almost any material that lent itself to craftsmanship. From simple plain circlets of metal, to ones decorated with etched and exquisite designs of bird and animal-head terminals and studded with gems, bangles in various forms existed in ancient in India.
Significance of Bangles for Married Women
Wearing of bangles is considered must for a married woman in India. These are considered to be an important part of Indian bride's jewelry. In certain communities, there is a custom which says that gold bangles should not be worn alone by married women and should be teamed with glass bangles, popularly known as 'kaanch ki choodiya', as it symbolizes well-being of husband and sons. In some communities women are so superstitious, that even when changing bangles, they never allows their arm to be completely bare. A simple string or even the end of her sari is wrapped around the arm, until the new set is worn. In certain communities, widows are not allowed to wear glass bangles.
Tradition of Bangles in West Bengal
While most married women in India wear gold bangles, married women in the eastern state of Bengal wear a pair of white color shakha (shell) and paula (red coral) bangles as a symbol of marriage.
Tradition of Bangles in Punjab
In the state of Punjab, bride wears a set of ivory bangles called chooda on each hand for 21 days, or a year after marriage, depending on family tradition.
Tradition of Bangles in Rajasthan
Rajasthani woman wears ivory bangles from her wrist to her upper arm as jewelry of gold for the rest of her life or till her husband is alive. This tradition has become obsolete in present times.
Tradition of Bangles in Contemporary Times
In present times, women, in spite of their marital status adorn their arms with bangles that are available in various types and styles as they believe that wearing of jewelry after marriage or before marriage has no relation to their husband's age. Hence, these days, bangle or bracelets are worn by fashion conscious girls with as much style as their mothers and grandmothers wore as part of tradition.