There are many symbols of marriage that signify certain important facets of Hinduism. Most of these symbols are for women. We do not know why the system of Hindu marriage does not brand men as 'married'. But the symbols that are held sacred by a married woman are fascinating to explore. A Hindu married woman has not one but many symbols of marriage to maintain in the long run. All these symbols have a specific meaning and significance.
Symbols Of Marriage In Hinduism:
Vermilion or Sindoor: Vermilion is a red coloured powder that is applied in the parting of the hair by married women. It is also called kum kum in some parts of India. This sign of marriage is more or less consistent among women from all over India. Sindoor is symbolic of the red flame of Sati and Parvati, both forms of Shati. It is supposed to give power and determination to a wife. The significance of vermilion is also psycho-sexual; it contains mercury that stirs sexual desire.
Mangalsutra: This is the thread that binds a woman forever to her husband. The mangalsutra is not as universal as the sindoor. Women from the Eastern parts of India do not wear it. Every community has its own kind of mangalsutra but it is always made of gold and black beads. The black beads of a mangalsutra are supposed to ward of the evil eye. At is also for the 'mangal' or 'wellbeing' of a woman's husband.
Thali: This is the South Indian equivalent of a mangalsutra. It is primarily made of a cotton thread. In case of Tamilians the thread is yellowed with turmeric. It contains many other elements like coral, black beads etc.
Toe Rings: Most Indian women wear bichiya or toe rings on their second toe after marriage. This symbol of marriage reminds a woman of her marital status and the restrictions that come with it. Even if a married woman wants to transcend the limits of her 'maryada' (set of rules that defines her dignity) then the toe ring warns her not to defy her boundaries.
Bangles: After a Hindu marriage is communed, the wife is never supposed to leave her arms bare. She must always wear bangles to signify that she is married. Some women wear red or green glass bangles. It is called 'shringar' or making yourself attractive for your husband. Gold, silver or bangles of other materials can also be worn for shringar. Bengali women wear a pair of red and white bangles made of coral and conch respectively. Conch is keeps the temper of a woman calm (as it traditionally should be) and coral improves the blood circulation.
These are some of the most important symbols of a Hindu marriage. Do you ever wonder why there are no such symbols for men?