The Meaning of Mangalsutra
'Mangalsutra' – The Mark of Marriage
‘Mangal’ implies auspicious and ‘sutra’ denotes thread, both making the most significant symbol of marital bliss called ‘Mangalsutra’. In Hindu weddings, the mangalsutra is not only a necklace but a 'sacred thread' that is worn by a married woman to mark her marriage. The necklace could be a mere piece of cotton thread with 2 black beads or a beautiful necklace made of gold with beads.
Man and woman take ‘saat pheras’ or seven vows to make their marital association strong and long-lasting, but the significance of mangalsutra is much more higher than all these marriage ceremonies. This holy thread is tied by the man on the neck of the woman after performing all the marriage rituals. A woman is known for ‘being married’ only after her husband applies ‘sindoor’ on her forehead and when she wears the mangalsutra. You must have seen in most of the Bollywood movies when a woman says ‘nahi main apna mangalsutra kabhi nahi utaaroongi’ (No I’ll never take off my ‘Mangalsutra’ till the time I am alive). So this is the importance of this necklace.
Now let’s throw some light on the tradition of wearing this thread and comprehend the edifying value behind it.
Mangalsutra – the indivisible attachment between wife and husband
It is an unknown fact that one of the greatest Indian philosophers, Adi Shankara was the first one to signify the importance of the Mangalsutra in his popular literature ‘Saundarya Lahiri’. It’s a famous book written in Sanskrit depicting the several ‘tantra-mantra-yantra’ (instructions and tools) for offering various ‘Pooja’ in Indian culture. According to the philosophy of Indian tradition, the Mangalsutra is a thread that binds the lives of husband and wife together. It is also believed that while wearing this thread, the woman is enhancing the happiness and comfort of her husband and family. The marriage is also said to be protected from all evil, if the wife wears the mangalsutra with great trust and dedication.
Three knots as the three facets of a married woman
Whether a gold mangalsutra or simply a yellow thread studded with a pendant, the bridegroom is required to put the 'symbolic three knots' in the mangalsutra while tying it around the bride’s neck amidst the enchanted hymns. The three knots represents the three distinct features of a married lady. The first knot implies that she is fully obedient to her husband; the second knot symbolizes her obedience to husband’s parents and the third knot is for lady’s deference for God.
One ‘sutra’ with different names and designs
Mangalyam, Thaali, Pustelu and mangalsutramu are all the names of the single necklace called ‘mangalsutra’. As India is known to be a hub of distinct traditions and cultures, every culture has its own name of this holy thread. Not just the name, but mangalsutra is designed differently in different cultures. Most of the Hindus wear ‘Lakshmi Thaali’, the common design of the mangalsutra. However, ‘Pottu Thaali’ is the one that is usually worn by Kannada and Telgu. Besides these designs, Kumbha Thaali and Ela thaali are also equally popular in Malyalee and Tamil cultures. Some non-traditional and modern mangalsutras are also designed with diamond pendants that are said to be worn by Marwari's and Gujarati's.
Be it an exquisitely designed pendant or a simple thread, the value of Mangalsutra remains the same for every Indian married woman. Long live Indian traditions!