Recently I was in Bangalore for a work trip and my colleague there took me to a wedding of her distant cousin when she heard that I had no plans for the weekend and did not know where to go unaccompanied in a new city. While at first I thought it was just a usual wedding ceremony in some city venue, I was quite surprised when I was told to packed overnight clothes and then I realized that weddings in South India took place usually in the mornings. It was a whole new experience and although I was quite taken aback at first, I really loved the trip and will forever be thankful to my colleague- now a dear friend- for inviting me.



One of the biggest takeaways from this trip was the authentic South Indian wedding and the bride and groom, I was told, both hailed from the Mukkava community. However, apart from following some of the wedding rituals, the entire wedding took place in a similar fashion that we are mostly used to seeing in popular culture. There could have been a few nuances, but to untrained eyes like mine, I really did not know what they were. What particularly attracted my attention was the food, and next, the jewelry.

While we often see small emblems of gods and goddesses in jewelry even in North India, what attracted my attention was the major presence of such designs in the jewelry that the bride was wearing. She was looking exquisite of course, but one could tell that the jewelry was heavy and when I asked my colleague about them, I was told that it was inspired by temple jewelry designs. The most important characteristic of this form of jewelry was the presence of some god in the jewelry, like a miniature idol built into the jewelry, as its center piece. Needless to say, the necklace was the most prominent piece and just before the garland went on the bride, I could discern a Tirupati Balaji heavily engraved where the pendant usually is. I was told that Ganesha was another popular motif, and necklaces and mang- tikas were the most popular pieces to show of this kind of craftsmanship.



Two other pieces of jewelry caught my attention and I must say, they really enhanced the complete look of the bride. One was the exquisite kamarbandh and the other were beautiful hair accessories that were adoring her long braid. The kamarbandh was in exquisite floral patterns and the rest of the engraving, I was told, is mostly inspired from the designs on the temples in South India. The hair accessories were individual pieces stuck throughout the braid, and there was alternate coil of white flowers going around it. The pieces were mostly in heavy gold, and I could not imagine how much they would have cost!

After a brief chat with my friend- who was by now quite bored with her relatives for constantly nagging her about her wedding- I was told that most of these jewelry are handed down from generations. While there are still craftsmen who work on this kind of jewelry, temple jewelry in modern times are much sleeker and lighter, because honestly, one would have to have gold mine of one’s own to order jewelry like that. She showed me a bracelet she was herself wearing- a beautiful ringlet with elephants engraved all over- and said that it belonged to one of her great aunts. Once intrigued enough, I also paid attention to other components like earrings and nose rings and noticed they were quite distinct as well, with the earrings most starting from the top of the ear and taking the gradual shape ending in a jhumka.

I had seen pictures of South Indian brides before but to see her all decked up in full regalia right before one’s eyes is quite something. I took some beautiful photographs and I wish I get invited to more of such weddings. The stay was wonderful, and I came back from weekend trip refreshed and subsequently returned to my own city after ten days or so with wonderful memories.

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