Mangala sutra

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A Telugu style Mangala sutra.

A mangala sutra (from Sanskrit mangal, meaning "holy, auspicious", and sutra, meaning "thread") is a sacred necklace that a Hindu groom ties around the bride's neck in a ceremony called Mangalya Dharanam (Hindi for: "wearing the auspicious"), which identifies her as a married woman. The woman continues to wear the mangala sutra as a sign of her marital status.[1] The practice originated in southern part of India.It is also practised by Syrian Churches and CSI Nazaranis.

Contrary to false impression generated in recent decades by Indian movies and TV soap opera, the practice does not exist in every part of India, nor is it an integral part of a marriage ceremony.


The phrase "three knot tie" literally means "an auspicious thread which is knotted around the bride's neck". It is usually a gold pendant strung from a yellow thread prepared with turmeric, a string of black beads or simply a gold chain. It is comparable to the wedding ring of the West. In south India, a married woman is expected to wear this thread. In certain communities, the groom ties the first of the three knots while his sisters tie the rest. It is only incidental to a marriage ceremony in some parts of India and is an essential part of a marriage ceremony in every Hindu tradition.

Regional variations[edit]

It is called mangal sutra in Marathi, thaali (தாலி) in Malayalam / Tamil, thaali (ತಾಳಿ), mangalyasutra (ಮಾಂಗಲ್ಯ) in Kannada, and thaali (తాళి), maangalyamu (మాంగళ్యము), mangalasutramu (మంగళసూత్రము) or pustelu (పుస్తెలు) in Telugu. Konkanis (Goans and others) wear three necklaces around their necks, referred to as dhaaremani or muhurtmani (big golden bead), mangalasutra with one or two gold discs and kasithaali with gold and coral beads. In Malayalam it is simply referred to as thaali.

In the Syrian Christian communities in Kerala, it is called a minnu. An engraving of the holy spirit is a distinguishing feature of the Syrian Christian Minnu. According to tradition, the families of the bride and the bridegroom contribute a piece of gold and melt it with the help of the family goldsmith. This is then used to make the rest of the necklace. The process of tying is assisted by a sister of the groom, as it is with other Hindu communities. During the wedding ceremony, the minnu is held on and tied using a braided thread made by twisting together seven threads taken from the manthrakodi (wedding sari).


Mangala sutras are made in a variety of designs. The common ones are the Lakshmi thaali, pustelu worn by the Telugus, ela thaali or minnu worn by the Malayalees and the kumbha thaali worn by the Tamils of the Kshatriya caste. The design is chosen by the groom's family according to prevalent customs. Gujaratis and Marwaris often use a diamond pendant in a gold chain and not a mangala sutra. Maharashtrians wear a pendant of one or two vatis (knots). The mangalya, thaali or mangala sutra of Kannidagas is similar to that of the Maharashtrians, except that it usually has two vatis.


Apart from the mangala sutra, the toe rings (bichhua), kumkum, bangles, nalla pusalu (black pearls) and nose ring form six symbols that may indicate that a woman is married. While there are local variations with respect to the others, the mangala sutra is nevertheless worn by most married women in southern parts of India. The practice is mainly followed in south Indian states though popular movies and TV soap opera falsely suggest that it is a pan-India practice.

The significance of the mangala sutra was first given by Adi Shankara in his famous book Soundarya Lahari. According to Hindu cultural ethos, the mangala sutra symbolizes the inseparable bond between a husband and a wife. During the wedding ceremonies in southern parts of India, the bridegroom ties the mangala sutra to the neck of the bride uttering, “May you live long by wearing this sacred mangal sutra, the reason of my life”. Married women are led to wear a mangala sutra throughout their life as it is believed that the practice enhances the well-being of her husband and family. It is also believed that the mangala sutra protects the marriage from any evil. Three knots symbolize three different aspects of a married woman - the first knot represents her obedience to her husband, the second to his parents and the third represents her respect for God.



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