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Solah Shringar: Ancient beauty rituals for Indian brides

Khush Singh from Khush Singh-Celebrity & Indian Bridal Makeup Artist

Ancient Sanskrit texts in India identify sixteen different embellishments or adornments practiced by Hindu and Muslim brides.
Solah represents 16, a significant number that corresponds to the sixteen phases of the moon and Shringar refers to the adornments or decorations required for the beautification of the bride.
The Solah Shringar acknowledges and celebrates the beauty and divinity of the female form. There is a belief that certain ornaments and embellishments enhance the beauty of a woman giving her a celestial appearance.
These ancient beauty rituals have been passed down through the centuries and are rituals that can be followed by the modern Hindu and Muslim brides.

To bring out the goddess in you on your special day here are the 16 ancient beauty rituals or the Solah Shringar.

1st Shringar: Decoration of the hair

Traditionally the brides hair was oiled, washed, dried, styled and accentuated with a string of flowers according to the region and the wedding dress. Young brides from the South styled their hair differently to brides from the North.
Flowers are considered to be symbolic of life and happiness and are important in the every aspect of Indian marriage including the hair.
These days the modern day South Asian brides in Australia have a choice in the way their hair is styled and accentuated with the bridal dress. Hair stylists now specialise in bridal hair styles.

2nd Shringar: Cleaning and preparing the body

Traditionally the bride was given a bath with a mixture of gram flour, turmeric powder, sandalwood powder and oil. This acted as a scrub and provided a glow to her complexion
Modern day brides have plenty of choices in the way they relax, bathe and prepare their face and body for the big occasion. Herbal rejuvenation facial treatments, massages, manicures can make the bride feel special.

3rd Shringar: Maangteeka:

The maangteeka is a pendulum like ornament generally made of gold and set with precious stones, which is worn in the parting of the hair and falls over the top of the forehead. The allure of the bride is highlighted by this ornament.
On some brides a mangapatti is tied along the hairline.
The mandoria consists of a strand of pearls, tied across the forehead on either side and can usually be seen on a Maharashtrian bride.
Modern day brides have a choice to wear gold maangteekas and mangapattis or those made of costume jewellery.

4th Shringar: Bindi

Traditionally the circular red dot of vermillion powder placed on the center of the forehead symbolised the brides suhaag or the resolve to the marital relationship. The bindi worn by the bride symbolises her dedication towards her husband.
In order to make a bindi attractive, it can be decorated with tiny red & white dots encircling it and also by applying over the curves of the eyes and ends at the cheekbones.
Sindoor also symbolises suhaag and is applied in the parting of the hair.
The modern Hindu bride, however, has a choice of colourful and elaborate bindi designs that match the colour of the brides wedding outfit and is of the self-adhesive variety.

5th Shringar: Kohl or Kaajal (also referred to as Anjana)

The application of Kohl or Kajal on the edges of the upper and lower lids was designed to enhance the beauty of the brides eyes. Kajal was traditionally prepared from the soot of diya (earthen lamp) lit with a wick placed in clarified butter.
Modern day brides have a choice of Kohl pencils or liquid eyeliners accentuating the features of the eyes. Eye makeup adds colour and glamour highlighting the beauty of the brides eyes.

6th Shringar: Nose Ring (also referred to as Nath)

Traditionally a Hindu bride wore gold, pearl or a diamond nose ring on her wedding day. Once married the nose ring is not usually removed by Hindus as they are a symbol of a married woman similar to bindi, sindoor and the mangalsutra (wedding necklace).
Enhancing the brides beauty and giving her a more traditional look the nose ring is usually worn on the left nostril.
The modern day bride has the option of wearing a nose ring or stud on her wedding day.

7th Shringar: Earrings (also known as Karn Phool)

Traditionally the Hindu and Muslim brides adorn their ears with gold jewellery. Once again the style of the earring varied with the region.
The three tiered or jhoonkha style earrings are quite heavy and are supported by gold chains that are attached to the hair.
Modern day brides have a choice of wearing heavy gold and diamond earrings or jewellery with a more simple design.

8th Shringar: Wedding necklace (also known as Haar)

The sacred marriage vows are thought to be imbibed in the wedding necklace which varies based on the region. The wedding necklace is traditionally crafted from gold and symbolises prosperity which is why Hindu and Muslim brides wear many different gold necklaces.
The modern day bride has the choice to wear a gold wedding necklace which is similar to the symbol of the wedding ring worn by most brides. However there is a trend to have some defining simple pieces of gold jewellery rather the traditional and elaborate gold necklaces worn by brides.

9th Shringar: Armlets (also known as Bazubandh)

Armlets with precious gem stones imbedded were once worn on the upper arms giving a more traditional look to the bride.
Modern day brides can have the option of wearing a wide selection of gold or silver armlets.

10th Shringar: Bangles (also known as Choodiyan)

Traditionally, red bangles are worn at the time of marriage and were mandatory for a bride to wear as they signified the long life of her husband.
Gold bangles interspersed with red bangles add to the beauty of the brides wrists.
Whist gold bangles are still popular with Indian brides, ,modern day brides now have the choice to wear coloured bangles matching their bridal dress.

11th Shringar: Rings or Hath Phool

Traditionally the Arsi was a thumb ring with a small mirror attached allowing the bride to take a glimpse at her new partner.
Alternatively a bride wore a haath phool consisting of five rings in all the fingers, joined to a bangle at the wrist with chains from each ring radiating to a medallion encrusted with stones in the centre of the hand, with chains joining the medallion to the bangle
This type of decorative jewellery is available to modern day brides designed in gold or silver. This ia also available in costume jewellery.

12th Shringar: Bridal Dress

Whilst the bridal dress ranges from region to region the sari is one of the most graceful attires in the world. The wedding ensemble could also be in the form of a ghaghra-choli (lehenga)
Modern day brides have a variety of styles and colours in their choice of traditional sarees, ghagra cholis and the traditional white wedding dress.

13th Shringar: Waist band (also known as Kamberband)

To keep the sari in place as well as accentuate the brides waist a belt of gold or silver is used.
The belt circling the waist could be a decorative waistband in solid gold or some other metal or it could be intricate chain with a pendant that rests on one side of the hip.
Modern brides can also wear the waistband crafted from gold or silver as an ornament around the waist.

14th Shringar: Anklet (also known as Payal)

One of the most sensuous and attention grabbing accessories worn by the bride is the anklet. A chain of silver with an edging comprising clusters of small bells attached is traditionally worn on both feet which make a pleasant sound as the feet move.
These anklets make the most seductive and provocative sound as the brides moves.
Modern day brides have the choice to wear fine silver chains around their feet for comfort or have more intricate designs on the anklet.

15th Shringar: Henna designs (also known as Mehendi)

Traditionally mehendi is a very significant shringar of the bride symbolising prosperity. The hands and feet are covered with intricate designs of henna paste in a special pre-wedding ceremony.
The mehendi is mostly applied on hands and sometimes on feet too. The mehendi that decorates the palms and wrist has the most intricate designs.
Modern day brides are indulging in the cooling effects of the henna paste and interesting designs of the artwork.

16h Shringar: Toe ring (also known as Bichuas)

Made up of silver, bichuas or the toe rings are worn on the fingers of each foot most commonly on the second toe of the left feet. The toe ring is also a symbol of marriage and is traditionally worn till the husband’s death.
Traditionally, toe rings are quite ornate, though more contemporary and simple designs are now being developed to cater to the requirements of modern brides.

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