Photography Credit : Rob & Lauren
Weddings all over the world are filled with unique rituals and customs and this is one from traditional Hindu weddings from some parts of India. The traditional ritual of the ‘solah shringar’ or the sixteen decorations is so that the bride is enhanced and beautified from head to toe during her wedding with different components like clothes, jewellery etc. Traditionally it was often done with the help of her female friends and relatives. These sixteen steps are said to be corresponding to the 16 phases of the moon, which is believed impact a woman’s menstrual cycle; the solah shringar is believed to negate these negative impacts. It is also associated with Laxmi the Goddess of beauty, fertility and prosperity.
The different steps of the Solah Shringar:
Bridal Outfit – The bride to be is dressed in her wedding saree, lehenga or salwar kameez.
Hair and Skin – The bride’s hair is styled and decorated with flowers or ornaments. A paste of turmeric, gram flour, oils etc. is used to scrub, clean and beautify the skin beforehand.
Bindi – A bindi has sacred and religious connotations and is the symbol of a woman’s transition to her new status as a married woman. Traditionally a round, red dot, bindis are now available in a variety of styles and also decorated with glitter, crystals and colours.
Sindoor – Sindoor or vermillion is applied to the center parting in the bride’s hair. It has many religious and sacred connotations, one of which is that the sindoor is a symbol of marriage and the husband’s life.
Maangtika – The maangtika is a pretty accessory or piece of jewellery worn on the center part of the hair. It is normally in gold with precious or semi precious stones, pearls, diamonds etc.
Kajal – Kajal or kohl is used to line the bride’s eyes, among other cosmetics.
Nose Ring – The nose ring or nath is also a piece of jewellery traditionally worn by married women on the left nostril. Although there are variations from different parts of the country, one of the more common ones is a nose ring with an attached chain that is extended to the left ear.
Earrings – Earrings are used to add more beauty to a bride’s face. Normally heavy and in gold, the earrings or karn phool are beautifully designed.
Necklace/ Haar – A necklace or different necklaces of varying lengths are worn. They could be made from different materials like pearls, precious metals and even flower garlands.
Mehendi – The mehendi or henna is a big part in most Indian weddings. The bride’s hands and feet are adorned in beautiful henna patterns. It is often said that the darker your mehendi colour, the more your husband will love you!
Bangles / Choodi – Bangles are commonly used to adorn the bride’s hands are symbolic of her being married and as a safeguard to her husband’s life. Depending ondifferent cultures they may be red and ivory bangles, green glass bangles, gold choodis or made from other materials like ceramic and varied metals.
Baajuband / Armband – An armband is worn on the upper arm, generally made with from precious metal and may be adorned with semi precious stones or pearls.
Rings – The bride’s hands are decorated with eight rings also known as aarsi or anghooti, sometimes including a mirrored ring on her thumb. Some rings are also interlinked with chains.
Kamarband / Waist band – The bride is made to wear an elaborate waist belt or kamarband, normally a metal one.
Payals / Anklets – Anklets or payals are worn on both feet, often with tiny tinkling bells.
Itar – Itar or perfume is used to keep the bride fresh.