BRIDAL CHOORA, INDIAN WEDDING TRADITIONS EXPLAINED
Have you wondered why some Indian brides are wearing a set of red and white bangles on their wedding day or seen a bride wearing beautiful and colorful bangles a few days after the wedding? As a Florida based Indian wedding photographer, I have always wondered what the significance of those beautiful bangles is on Indian bride’s arms. The traditional Hindu Indian wedding bangle is called a choora.
It is traditionally worn by bride on the wedding day and for a period after the wedding. This tradition is mostly prevalent in Punjabi families. The tradition is mostly followed in northern parts of India. This signifies her status as a newly married woman. The choora is believed to bring prosperity and fertility to the married couple.
This custom is now being adopted from brides across Indian communities as the choora not only looks amazing and beautiful but also lays emphasis on their newly married status like sindoor and mangalsutra. I will talk about the sindoor and mangalsutra in a later post.
Indian weddings are celebrated over many days. They are a time for celebration for the families of the bride and the groom. The liveliness, the fun, the color, the songs and the dance, all these along with beautiful Indian traditions make them stand our compared to traditional Western weddings. Bride, grooms and their families cherish these moments for a life time. Why do you think Indian wedding reach over 2-4 days? The reason is because there are many separate but equally important ceremonies (pujas) take place during the 2-4 days long wedding weekend. You can think about them as a series of small wedding ceremonies concluded by the final wedding ceremony under the traditional wedding canopy, the mandap.
They are times when all the relatives and friends get together and bless the bride and groom with good luck and prosperity for a happy married life performing many important and interesting rituals before and after the wedding.
Traditionally the bangles are red and white in color made of ivory with in lay work though present day brides often choose the two colors as per their choice or bridal dress. One of the colors has to be a tone of white. As an Indian wedding photographer, shooting countless Hindu Indian weddings over the last 15 years, I have seen instances where there is no white tone at all. They are all beautiful, though! Some of them are made of plastic, some made of gold! Traditionally, brides wore 21 red and ivory bangles on each arm. Also, in the past brides would wear the bangles up to one year after the wedding. It is the duty of the groom to remove them after a year. Can you imagine doing office work or run your business with bangles on your hand all year? Thankfully, traditions change over the time to adjust to current living and working conditions. Today brides choose to wear them for much less time. Traditional religious scholars recommend to wear them for a minimum time ranging from a week to 40 days.
It is very important that the bridal choora is given to the bride by her maternal uncles and they put the bangles on the bride’s hands. This is a great photo opportunity for Indian wedding photographers.
The bride has a choice in the design and helps selecting the size. The choora ceremony is held on the morning on the wedding day or a day before. The bride’s maternal uncle and aunt perform this ceremony with the bride. Historically, the choora ceremony starts with a bridal bath. The bride takes a bath and wears a new outfit. The maternal uncle escorts the bride from the bath to where choora ceremony is about to take place. The choora ceremony in itself is an interesting one, the choora is soaked in the milk and water combination in a way that the set is not altered as all the bangles in a set are not of the same size. The maternal uncle and aunt then perform the ceremony along with some sweets. The suhaag geet are usually sung by women relatives while this ceremony is being performed. Taking three to four bangles at a time, the maternal uncle places the choora on the bride and if there are more than one maternal uncle the ritual is performed by all in hierarchical order, taking turns.
After the ceremony the sweets and shagan are given to the bride. Choora ceremony emphasizes on the important role maternal uncle perform at a wedding and strengthens the bond of affection. Relatives touch the choora and give their heartiest wishes to the girl for her future married life. After slipping the choora on the bride’s hands, uncle covers it with subar (shawl) symbolizing her departure from her family and her home. As per the belief the bride is not supposed to see the choora till she is ready, the choora is covered with handkerchiefs till the bride is adorned with bridal dress and jewellery. So while making the choice for the choora the actual piece is not seen by the bride.
The deep rooted significance behind this tradition makes it is understandable as to why brides today spend a lot of time getting the right set of Bridal choora. The choora beautifully drapes the brides arm and completes her bridal look. Modern brides are setting new style trends for wedding Choora. There are a number of design options in the choora to choose from apart from the color.
The name of the bride and groom can be inscribed on the choora for the world to see, there can be customization as per your wedding theme like peacocks, lamps, florets. Kundan work choora adds glamour to the overall look of the bride. Color options to match your wedding lehangha are also available to make your bridal look picture perfect.
Apart from making the bride picture perfect on her wedding day, the bridal choora holds a special place in a brides’ heart due to the companionship it offers during the new phase of her life. Newly married brides look divine in any form of traditional or western wear flaunting there choora with the man of their life. These first few weeks make memories and bond that they would cherish forever and their choora becomes a constant in their everyday life. The bride is not supposed to have much of household responsibility till she is wearing the choora. She has a comparatively relaxed routine and gets to spend more time with her husband and family and make the relationship stronger.
Never have I met a bride who does not lovingly remember her choora and misses wearing it after removing it, even after years. The emotions of belonging and love attached with the choora are individually felt by brides, making for them cherished memories of the first year of their happy marriage. A Choora vadhana ceremony might be held on the day the bride’s choora is removed but these customs vary from family to family. Choora can be kept as keepsake by the bride and preserved in a glass case or stored as such as a set to revisit her fond memories whenever she wants to.
As an Indian wedding photographer, I always here for you to help if you have nay specific questions or concerns. Please, leave a comment or send me a message if you want to add more information.