I used to love wearing bangles/bracelets. Still do as a matter of fact. But I got to know something about bangles which slightly put me off wearing them for quite a while. It’s quite an interesting fact, which I’ve heard more than once (hence proving it to be more or less true) and one which took me completely by surprise. I’d learnt as I grew up that married women were supposed to necessarily wear bangles in my community and I guessed it was just one of those beliefs. Seldom do we come across actual explanations to why certain rituals or rites are carried out. True, not all the explanations are nice and sweet. But at least I know why I’m supposed to follow them. I’m thankful that I’m studying sociology and it actually explains hitherto unexplained, blindly followed acts.
During one of my lectures on Sociology of India in my first year in college, our teacher explained the actual symbolic meaning of bangles. They actually symbolised shackles or handcuffs. In ancient societies, many tribes or clans had antagonistic relations with each other. Hence, wars were waged and territories taken over etc. Women were also captured and taken to the men’s land to serve as concubines or in some cases, wives. This was done because:-
(a) Marrying within your own clan was not advisable as it was considered incest, your clanswomen being your ‘sisters’.
(b) Capturing women from from other clans/tribes meant these women were your sole possessions. No other man could claim them as his. This was hence an easy way of increasing a man’s prestige through his possessions.
(Pardon me I couldn’t resist giving the sociological lecture. Sometimes, I have just no doubt that I should become a Professor.)
So why am I getting all sociological and all? Because bangles came up as a consequence of point (b) up there. Let me explain. When women were captured and brought to the captor’s territory, they had to be tied up so that they could not escape. Hence their wrists were tied with rope to some pole or something. Later on, these ties were symbolically worn by the women as a symbol of their capture.
After I’d heard this, I stopped wearing bangles for quite a while because whenever I wore them, I could think of nothing but me being whisked away by some barbaric horse-ridden men *shudder*
Well, I’m wearing bangles again. But I think I might refuse to wear them all the time after marriage, because I’m not planning on being kidnapped and getting married to my kidnapper. So…yeah :/