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A Mangalasutra (Mangala sutra, Mangalasutra or Thaali) is a symbol of marriage union in India. It is a sacred thread of love and goodwill worn by women as a symbol of their marriage. Traditionally the mangalasutra is considered the most revered token of love and respect offered to the bride during the 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. A married woman is expected to wear this thread and is the most important part of a Hindu marriage ceremony. In certain local cultures, the groom ties the first of the three knots while his sisters tie the rest.
It is called MangalSutra in Maharashtra, தாலி (thaali) in Tamil, ತಾಳಿ (thaali) or ಮಾಂಗಲ್ಯ (mangalyasutra) in Kannada and thaali (తాళి), maangalyam (మాంగళ్యము), mangalsutramu (మంగళసూత్రము) or pustelu (పుస్తెలు) in Telugu. Konkanis (Goans,and others)wear three necklaces around their neck 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 general and Minnu by Syrian Christians.
A Thali (Minnu) is also worn by the brides of Kerala's Syrian Christian community. 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 saree).
Apart from the mangalsutra, the Toe rings, the Kumkum, bangles, Nallapoosalu and nose ring form the six sacred symbols that indicate the woman is married. While there are local variations with respect to the others, the mangalsutra is nevertheless worn by married women irrespective of such local differences. The practice of wearing a Mangalsutra is mainly followed in western Indian and south Indian states.
The [Kashmiri Pandit]]s have the distinction of being one of the few Hindu communities that does not have the Tali as part of its wedding ritual. However in recent times, due to external influence, these communities have also taken up the practice, while Kashmiri Pandits have a characteristic ear ring which signifies marital status.
The significance to the Mangalsutra was first given by Adi Shankara in his famous book Soundarya Lahari. According to Hindu cultural ethos, mangalsutra symbolizes the inseparable bond between a husband and a wife. During the wedding ceremony, the bridegroom ties the mangalsutra to the neck of the bride uttering- “May you live long by wearing this sacred Mangalsutra, the reason of my life”. Married women are entitled to wear Mangalsutra throughout their life as it is believed that the practice enhances the well-being of her husband and family. It is also considered that the mangalsutra 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.
Mangalsutra are made in numerous designs. The common ones are the Lakshmi thaali (worn by the most Hindus), Ramar/Pottu thaali (worn by the Telugus ), Ela thaali (worn by the Malayalees) and Kumbha thaali (worn by the Tamils of Kshatriya caste). The design is chosen by the groom's family according to prevalent customs. Gujaratis and Marwaris often use a diamond pendant. Maharashtrians wear a pendant of one or two vatis. The mangalya or Taali or mangalasutra of Kannidagas is similar to that of the Maharashtrians, except that it usually has two vatis. The Bengali, Oriya and Assamese don't have the custom of Mangalsutra.
- "Mangalyam". Tamilnadu.com. 12 February 2013.
- "An Ornament of Beauty," by Ganesh Joshi published in Woman's Era, January 2007.