Indian weddings are full of rituals that might baffle outsiders who are not very familiar with our culture. Some of our wedding traditions may be quite elaborate but they usually have some strong symbolic value attached to them. Take the wedding chooda chooda for example. In some communities of North India, before the wedding, twenty one bangles in red and white (or ivory) are gifted to the bride by her maternal uncle. All her close relatives will touch the chooda before her wedding and she will have to wear them through the wedding and for some time after as well. Here is why a bride wears the chooda even after the wedding:
1. Carries the blessings of her elders
Before the wedding, the chooda is touched and blessed by all her close relatives. The fact that it is gifted to her by an older relative also makes it more poignant. The chooda symbolizes the love and good wishes of all her elders on her big day. As she enters her new life she is strengthened by their blessings.
2. Wards off the evil eye
The chooda is also said to act as a repellent of bad luck for the bride. The set of bangles carries with it the strong protective charm of all her loved ones and as she starts a new phase of her life, the chooda is said to symbolically shield her from any evil. Incidentally, there are several other rituals and traditions that are performed to protect the bride on her new journey, chooda being only one of them.
3. Red for prosperity, white for sobriety
Indian traditions are steeped in symbolism and often use colour to signify their message. The red or maroon in the chooda stands for prosperity while the white stands for sobriety.The mingling of both colours denotes and celebrates a woman's power in keeping the balance between both these significant and necessary aspects of life.
4. Mark of transition
A woman goes through a huge personal shift when she gets married. She leaves her maternal home for that of her husband's and gets initiated into an entirely new life. Customs such as the chooda externalize these changes and mark her transition. It is said that these symbols unconsciously help her anticipate and prepare for these changes.
5. Decorative purposes
Bangles are jewellery, let us never forget that. No matter how many symbolic or practical reasons they may be behind the chooda, the fact is undeniable that they look extremely pretty and we Indian brides just love pretty, elaborate jewelry, don't we? No wonder the chooda has seen so many variations over the ages. So there's that too.