Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My Indian Wedding - Mangalya Dharanam

Mangalya Dharanam - Tying of Matrimonial Necklace/Ring Exchange

In Hindu culture the groom and bride do not exchange wedding bands (though these days it might sometimes happen). Instead, the groom gives the bride a mangala sutra, a necklace made of gold that includes two talis (emblems) representing each family. The mangala sutra is the equivalent of the wedding ring and as such it identifies a lady as a married woman.

Usually I do not wear gold, so I was not too enthusiastic about having to wear a gold necklace on my neck for the rest of my life. Luckily, mangla sutras are usually black. Moreover, the one that Anil and his mother picked for me is actually pretty: it is not too big, not too flashy, and has an asymmetric pendant, as I requested.

I've been wearing my mangala sutra continuously for the past year, as Anil said that it would be nice if I would. However, during our recent trip to India his mother told me that I should not wear it everyday as it can break easily and it would be costly to repair it (or worse, I could loose it altogether). So I'm thinking about stopping wearing it on our first wedding anniversary. Strangely, it will not be an easy decision - I think wearing it grew on me during the past year...

During this part of the ceremony we also had an option to exchange wedding rings. Initially we were not sure if we want to have wedding rings at all, but then I thought that if I have to wear the mangla sutra, Anil should also wear something that would remind him about me. Moreover, I thought that it would be nice to get wedding rings from Poland, so I asked my parents to buy them for us. Thanks to that my wedding ring has a double meaning to me: it reminds me both about my husband and my parents.

My parents paid for and bought our wedding bands, but Anil and I picked the design we wanted. I probably looked at thousand designs before I selected a few that I liked the most. Luckily, Anil liked exactly the same ones as I did and together we decided to go with simple two-color wide bands made of white and pink gold.

Even though my parents bought our rings long before our wedding, we decided against having them shipped to the US as we feared they might get lost on the way. So we only got our wedding bands a month later, at the end of our honeymoon. My friend Bartek was visiting Poland and he brought them for us. (Thank you, Bartek!) In real life they looked even better than on the pictures, so we were very happy with our choice.

Oh, I should also mention that during our recent trip to India I learned that my mother in law promised to give her mangla sutra as an offering to gods if Anil gets married. She must have been quite worried if she made this kind of promise :)

The priest conducted several prayers before Anil tied the mangala sutra on my neck:

My managala sutra:

Anil, with help from Neeta, put the mangala sutra on my neck: