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Tradition of Earrings in India

Since ancient times, men and women in India have been adorning their ears with earrings for ornamental or spiritual reasons. Over the years, the tradition of earrings in India has strengthened and today it is customary for women in most communities to have their ears pierced at an early age.

Spiritual Significance of Ear Lobes
From ancient times, long ear lobes have been regarded as a sign of spiritual development and superior status. Among the distinguishing marks of the Buddha, and a sign of his greatness, were his large ear lobes. Homer and Aristotle reputedly also had the same characteristic.

In ancient times severed ears were offered to the Mother Goddess as a substitute for the male organs. In Egypt devotees offered their ears to the goddess Isis, and till the early decades of the Christian era, sculpted ears were offered at the shrine of the Great Mother in other parts of the Middle East.

Karnavedha
Karnavedha or the practice of wearing earrings is one of the Hindu Sanskars (sacraments) performed for a child. It is an ear piercing ceremony that occurs in the third or fifth year for some Hindu children. Karnavedham is done with a particular thorn. Butter is applied to the wound. In several communities Karnavedha is applicable to both male and female children

Karnavedha or the practice of wearing earrings is one of the Hindu Sanskars (sacraments) performed for a child. It is an ear piercing ceremony that occurs in the third or fifth year for some Hindu children. Karnavedham is done with a particular thorn. Butter is applied to the wound. In several communities Karnavedha is applicable to both male and female children

Earrings Considered Auspicious for Married Women
Since earliest times, wearing ear ornaments by married Indian women has been considered auspicious. Besides, earrings were considered to be a symbol of woman's wealth and her status in society. Elongated ear lobes were considered a sign of beauty and wealth - the longer the lobe, the greater the woman's wealth. By appending ornaments to almost every part of the ear, the woman also ensured a continuous state of mental and physical well being.
Karn Phool - The Ear Flowers
Ancient Prakrit and Sanskrit literature describe girls wearing fresh flowers in their ears. A range of floral earrings of gold, silver or precious stones that have been popular over the centuries in India suggest that the forms of flowers were translated into precious jewelry. A type of flower known as the karnphul, i.e., 'ear-flowers' is considered particularly auspicious. Karn Phools are an large, round metal flower-form earring, with a central stud at the back being the equivalent of a flower stem.

Scholars believe that the choice of the flower as the inspiring shape for earrings is not without significance. Flowers are considered natural erotic stimulants, by virtue of their association with Kama, the God of love, besides these are considered a concise symbol of nature, condensing into a brief span of time the cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth. In addition, flowers also reflects gentleness, youth, spiritual perfection and innocence, qualities which are but the fundamental attributes of feminine character.

Therapeutic Significance of Wearing Earrings
Recent studies have identified the ear as a microcosm of the entire body. Some even say the point of vision in acupuncture is situated in the center of the lobe. Hence the practice of wearing earrings is thought to have some therapeutic value. Besides, in certain places, ear piercing was believed to be good for the eyes. It also sharpened the mind and drew off 'bad humors'.

Tradition of Earrings in Contemporary Times
In present times, tradition of wearing earrings is extremely strong in India. These are considered to be an extremely important fashion accessory by the women. These days, girls go in for inexpensive colorful metal earrings, which they change daily according to their dress. These artificial earrings are easily available in huge variety on road side stalls. But on formal occasions like weddings, festivals and other important occasions, ladies like to adorn their ears with gold, silver, pearl or diamond earrings. These days men, wear earrings to carry a styles statement. Usually men go in for small studs or balis.




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