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Divine Adornments for the Blessed Bride

By Visweswar Reddy

Discover the mystique and prowess of this form of jewellery that comes with the insignia of divined and an aura of devotional love.

devine ornaments

Jewels of the God -- laced with a divine charm and famed for their eternal bond with the Supreme Being. Termed as temple jewellery, the precious adornments of gods and goddesses have long been incorporated in the lexicon of Indian women’s jewellery. Famously worn by ‘devadasis’ or temple dancers, these pieces of jewelleries came to be seen in a more mainstream, feminine light. Sported during festivals, these jewelleries in their evolved forms have also become a part of bridal jewellery. especially for the auspicious value inbuilt in them.
Multiple kinds of jewelleries abound in the climate of cultural profusion and multiple ethnic identities in India. Of these, temple jewellery is one-of-its-kind.
Indian jewellery has a historical significance as well since it can be traced back to the glorious past. It was around 5,000 years in the ancient past that the art of jewellery making in India was conceptualised. India has been famous for its beads, gems and precious stones from times immemorial.
It, thus, attracted the Indian traders and the foreigners alike. For the rulers, jewels were a statement of power, prosperity and prestige. However, progressing through time and history, Indian jewellery evolved as an art.
Temple jewellery of India initially used to be described as the jewelry used to adorn the idols of gods and goddesses. The idols in India were ornamented with chunky necklaces that were either strung with beads or crafted with intricate filigree. Amongst the other ornaments that adorned idols of deities were large chunky bangles, usually studded with gems. In addition, earrings, nose rings and anklets were also used.
The jewellery used to adorn the idols was later worn by temple dancers and slowly, the designs became a part of the Indian woman’s bridal jewelry trousseau. Though the idols continued to be decorated with jewellery, a practice seen even today, the jewelry of Indian women also came be made on the pattern. Today, temple jewellery has evolved as a distinct and popular form of crafts in India. During festivals and occasions of worship of Gods, women wear temple jewelry, believed to be auspicious and offering good luck.
The most common type of temple jewellery has 11 different ornaments. These are long chain, short necklace, sun/moon, nethichutti, mattal, jimikki, belt, vanki, rakkodi, nath/bullakku and bangles. Short necklace is also known as choker in some parts of India. The dance belt is more commonly known as oddiyanam in the southern part of the country. The temple jewelry sets are becoming more popular and nowadays it is a common wedding jewellery type for most South Indian brides. Most of the Indian classical dancers also wear ankle bells during dance performance. Ankle bells are also called salangai (in Tamil) or chilanka (in Malayalam).
Jewellery items like pendants, bracelets, belts and brooches based on temple jewellery are very popular amongst women, during auspicious times, and wearing these is believed to bring luck to the person.
In the present day, they symbolise style, character and bring in the needed traditional element to a wedding. “Indian jewellery has both the style quotient and traditional value. It works perfectly for numerous occasions. The chunky necklaces, bracelets, anklets have a very unique feel and design, which sets them apart from the rest.”, says Gargi, 34, a homemaker from Bangalore.
Though, the contemporary bride-to-be looks for simple and single pieces of jewellery – many prefer the traditional look and feel of old jewellery and temple jewellery fits the bill superbly. In the contemporary Indian market, you will find a beautiful blend of traditional and modern jewellery in gold and silver that are decorated with gorgeous precious stones that never fail to attract and amuse buyers.
“Temple jewellery goes the best for any wear, but personally, I find it too chunky and heavy. I would personally prefer more simpler styles but nothing beats the design.”, says Anitha, 22, who is studying jewellery design.
When it comes to temple jewellery, a lot of factors play an important part, the weight, design, size, look and cut. Most temple jewelleries are framed in gold, as they add to the artistic value and appeal.
“In temple jewellery it is very important that the value of the gold and usage is not reduced as the design work is very unique and different. Most young brides-to-be look for different designs and are greatly influenced by what information they find in websites, magazines and the like. Today’s bride-to-be is well researched and they know what exactly their requirements are when they come for wedding jewellery shopping. In temple jewellery itself, many jewellers and jewellery stores are bringing in different and very unique and contemporary designs that are not only appealing to the younger generation but also are acceptable by their parents and older relatives.”, says a jeweller from Bengaluru.
Temple jewellery has a high market value and the rate of exports are high as well. Though, the old antique, traditional temple jewellery is particularly of South Indian origins, but the designs and looks are very intrinsic and appealing that a cross-section of audiences, like the style.
“Temple jewellery has a lot of appeal among the higher strata of society, foreigners as they areslightly on the expensive end, but it is a high-premium product and have a certain snob value. It has great designs and antique pieces have a certain class, which people look for.”, says Anil from Praveen Jewellers, Bengaluru.

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