As you will see, the range of answers is staggering.
Jewels are not merely gems and metal.
They are carriers of memory, keepers of identity, and markers of life’s most cherished moments.
Being a Rajasthani Baniya, my grandmother was adorned in a chaniya choli. Head covered. Tattooed around the chin and sides of the temple (apparently a sign of puberty), red and green bangles made of glass. Toe-ring. Anklets. Bajubands of gold and gems. Earrings that had this string to be hooked to the hair. In all, as we say, solah shringar!
Bunt women from Mangalore wore eight-stone diamond earrings with gold, sari tied slightly short, centre parting, bun, puffed-sleeve blouse, nose-rings and toe-rings, gold bangles and most importantly, the karyamani, i.e. the black beaded mangalsutra. Interestingly, the bride’s mother ties the mangalsutra on the bride the night before the marriage. We are a matrilineal community.
My grandmother wore a Maharashtrian nine-yard in the Deshasta Brahmin style with paay-ghol (touching the toes), kashta (the bunch of pleats at the waist) and a padar (dupatta) that is long and covers the shoulders, like a shawl. She had a kambar-patta (cummerbund or gold belt) of heavy, solid gold, nath on her nose, thushi which is a choker type necklace with a string dori, a bazuband, ambada to wear on her hair above her beautiful coiled bun, and a bugadi on the helix. She wore combinations of these for occasions.
Kumaoni women wear a neck piece like a choker called guloband and chunky bracelets called paunchee—which are gold beads like the Coorgi gold beads woven in tight bracelet. A full cover blouse with sleeves and sidha pallah sari. Massive nose-ring and sindhoor right over to the nose at times. Kumaoni women wore real bright colours and had their head always covered, and wore the nath (nose-ring).
Christian Nadar women from Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu, and the surrounding areas wore handwoven silk/cotton saris. Neatly parted, oiled hair tied in a low bun. Elegant gold addigais. Large, long ear piercing with heavy gold earrings. And lots of chains including those we called “gadigara changili” which was coiled.
My grandmother wore lots of jewellery. Traditional diamond– star-shaped ones that we called “vaira-thodu” as earrings, her heavy kalathooru marriage necklace. And my grandfather wore something called a Gowri Shankar on special occasions with rudraksham beads and a heavy shiva pendant.
Dadi…Nani…Ajji…Paati…Ammuma…Grammy…how many names do we give our loved ones?
Grandmothers are keepers of stories– and jewellery