Way back, when I was in school, one of my favourite poems was ‘The Bangle Sellers’ by Sarojini Naidu. I loved it then, I love it now and before I go any further, I absolutely must share an excerpt from the poem:
Who will buy these delicate, bright…Rainbow-tinted circles of light?
Lustrous tokens of radiant lives, for happy daughters and happy wives
Some are like fields of sunlit corn,meant for a bride on her bridal morn,
Some, like the flame of her marriage fire, or, rich with the hue of her heart’s desire,
Tinkling, luminous, tender, and clear, like her bridal laughter and bridal tear.
Beautiful, isn’t it? Bangles make a beautiful accessory and add an aura of grace to the wearer. I love bangles in all shapes, sizes, colours and designs, but nothing quite compares to traditional designs from various regions in India. I don’t boast of a huge collection, but my little treasure includes a few regional masterpieces, including a couple from Bengal.
Bengal has a rich tradition of gold and antique jewellery (in addition to ivory and silver). There is a large variety, from Gaala Bhora Bala (gold bangle with wax filling) to the Bauti (half cut bangle), the Mantasha (bangle with gold and pearls), Beloyari churi (gold bangles with cut designs), Kankan (thick gold or silver bangles with auspicious designs at the end points), Shona Bandhano Loha (Gold embedded iron bangles) and last, but certainly not the least – the Sankh Pola (the red and white bangles worn by married women).
If you’ve not heard of these names before, you must be wondering if there is a traditional way to wear them. Well, the answer is ‘Yes’. Married women wear Sankha, bangles made of conch shells followed by Shona Bandhano Loha, the gold embedded iron bangles, followed by a Kankan, which is a thick gold bangle of filigreed decorations with a pair of makara, or the mythical crocodile heads at the meeting points of the bangle’s circle.
Bengali Jewellery is a timeless combination of culture, beauty and excellent craftsmanship!
Kolkata has some exquisite jewellery stores, but the top names on my list for bangles are Sawansukha, P C Chandra , A Srikar & Co and Nemichand Bamalwa & sons (Some of them even have their Facebook pages, which is a bonus!). There are plenty more, but I’ve picked these names based on a friend’s feedback. Do tell us if you have a special recommendation for our readers too.
If you’re getting married, and plan to go jewellery shopping, then my recommendation would be to follow some wedding blogs such as the The Wedding Planners India and WeddingSutra to get an idea about pairings, recommendations of jewellers in your city or any other related information you may need before you set out shopping.
Buying jewellery is exciting of course, especially if from Bengal, but wearing jewellery passed down from your grandmother or great-grandmother is priceless and the most beautiful gift you could possibly have for your wedding! I wore my grandmother’s heirloom jewellery for my wedding, and nothing quite compares to that feeling. What are you planning to wear on your special day?
Create memories and soak in the tradition, people!
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