Indian Culture

The Indian Bangle

The Indian Bangle

The circle shaped ornament is alluring. It teases the heart to come and take it. It is an accessory which entices us to have it. This is the Indian bangle, loved and worn by all Indians and non-Indians alike. The Bangle messages cluture, style and symbolism. From childhood to adulthood, the bangle is seen as an accessory to be had.

Culture and Beliefs

To wear bangles, was once seen as a symbol, an Indian identity and a neccesity for girls and women to adorn. To Hindus, it is cultural. It is a symbol of marriage, and married women will not leave the home without covering their arms without bangles, normally four to six on each wrist. The colours are usually red and green – colours of marriage. Other popular colours are orange and yellow.

In this picture, the bride to be has worn silver and red to match her outfit. In these  modern times, bangle colours are chosen to match one’s garment and not neccessarily to go by tradition.

In large cities, moving away from village traditions, women have exchanged “traditional” for “modern”, as we have seen in this picture.

Designs and colours from the west have influenced the east and the choice is therfore great. From my own personal experience, I find it hard to choose what kind to buy as all shops are stocked with the most beautiful bangles.

As much as the older generation hold onto their beliefs and traditions, the newer generation seem to be moving away. No longer are married women wearing bangles (traditional or otherwise) as they are no longer wearing sarees but modern, western clothing, perhaps looking at the practicality and/or suitability of what they are wearing.

Society comes in to play here, where is may not seem ‘the now’ to wear Indian bangles in everyday life, such as the elder generation village women did. Times have moved on and so have their thinking.

Indian festivals

The holy Hindu festivals are celebrated with wearing the most beautiful sarees and along with it, the bangles (the image of the Indian woman complete with the Bindi and necklace). Great care is taken when accessorising one’s self for the festival of Navratri, the nine days of dancing and worshipping the nine forms of the Goddess of power – Ma Durga. Today, it is also a social event to show off one’s exquisite sari and accessories.

Other times when Indian bangles are worn is Diwali and many  other religious events. The picture shown here are of women dancing  – called The Garba in Gujarati. They are wearing Rajasthani bangles on their upper arms and wrists whilst performing.

The attire they are wearing is called Chanya Cholis – another Gujarati garment, finishing the look with the silver hair jewellry.

These dances are performed during during the Navratri festival but also at pre-wedding functions – as you see in the opposite picture.

Types of bangles

There are different types of bangles – plastic, glass, metal, silver (called Chandni) and gold. Plastic bangles are worn in everyday life whereas the others are reserved for special occasions. Glass and metal bangles are matched and mixed with plastic ones, to give the optimum effect on one’s clothing. Gold and silver bangles are a favourite and is usually worn at weddings or other Indian functions.

Colour significance

Bangles come in all colours and shades, perfect for the many beautiful coloured sarees and Indian suits. There is a shade for every garment. In Gujarati weddings, white and red coloured bangles are part of the traditional bridal wear package and is symbolic too as they match with the white sari (given by the bride’s mother’s brother,  or Mama) and the red sari called Gharchoru, is given to the bride by the groom’s mother in acceptance of her entering her new family.

The white bangles are usually made of ivory and the red bangles, either glass or lac.


Designs vary from simple smooth to intricate. Smooth ones are blended with the intricate ones to give a fabulous effect (see the picture on the right), creating a fine pattern which is admired by all women.

Gold bangles are favoured during important family functions such as ofcourse, weddings and one’s own baby shower and such. Chandni or silver bangles are worn a lot during Navrati. Both are cut and designed intricately.

Bangles are universal and is loved by everyone. Married women and unmarried alike wear it – some for traditional purposes and some because they like it: The Indian Bangle.


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