Indian bride's posing for a photo to show off her hair and makeup for her Indian wedding ceremony.

Indian Bride’s Solah Shringar

You’ve probably heard many Bollywood love songs romanticize solah shringar. The direct, yet still subtle reference to a girl becoming a dulhan (bride) and the 16 (solah) features that distinguish an Indian bride. Do you know what those 16 items are? We’ve broken down each one below. Have fun!

{Indian Bridal Jewelry}

Maang Tikka: The maang tikka is pinned in the the bride’s hair so that the “ornament” dangles on her forehead.

Like any piece of jewelry the maang tikka enhances the overall bridal look but it also has significance in terms of being placed just above the center of the forehead. In the Hindu, Jain, and Sikh religions the center of the forehead is also known as the Third Eye. This is the spiritual eye and the gateway to spiritualism and wisdom. Who wouldn’t want a bit more of that on their wedding day?!?

This is also why in a groom’s saafa (his turban) often has an ornament or charm dangling from the center such that when he puts it on, it rests on his third eye.

Like all Indian jewelry there are all kinds of styles and designs for the maang tikka.

Indian bride smiling, wearing her tikka
Bride wearing her maang tikka. PC: Inbal More Photography; notice how the red charm dangling from the ornament sits dead center on her forehead, on the Third Eye.

Jhoomar: A jhoomar is also worn on the head – on the side and represents unity of the bride and groom. You mostly see Muslim and Punjabi brides wearing jhoomar.

Indian bride wearing jhoomar, tikka, and payal at her Indian wedding
Punjabi bride wearing a jhoomar on the side of her head AND a maang tikka on her forehead. PC: Global Photography

Bindi: Bindi’s are synonymous with Indian (Hindu, Jain, Sikh) women across the globe.  One bindi sits in the middle of the bride’s forehead on her Third Eye. For weddings, brides don’t necessarily wear a “red dot” as most brides want the bindis to match her outfit. Additionally for weddings, to look more done up, bindis are placed across her entire forehead, following her eyebrow line.

Indian-wedding-Avni-Taylor-Paul-Gero-photography-Hindu-ceremony-Gujarati-Dolled-Lulu-tikka-Indian-bride-dulhan-South-Asian-wedding-updo-bindi-chandlo
Bride wearing her maang tikka and bindis across her forehead. PC: Paul F. Gero Photography

Sindoor: The sindoor signals that a woman is married in Hindu, Jain, and Sikh religions. During Hindu and Jain wedding ceremonies there’s a point at which the groom applies sindoor in his bride’s hairline symbolizing that she is now married. In India you’ll see women wearing this everyday. It’s a lot less common in the USA, especially amongst the younger generations.

Groom applying sindoor on his bride during a Hindu wedding ceremony. PC: Greycard Photography
Groom wearing sherwani putting sindoor in bride's maang at Indian Hindu wedding ceremony.
Groom applying sindoor on his bride during a Hindu wedding ceremony. PC: Wedding Documentary Photo + Cinema.

Kajal aka eyeliner: In Indian culture eyeliner has meaning in addition to being used to enhance ones eyes. It’s said to be a coolant, and protects the eyes from the sun rays and particles in the environment. It’s also often applied to children on the regular (in India) and the groom on his wedding day as it’s believed to ward off the evil eye. Kajal itself is made out of different ingredients than eyeliner that you’d buy at Mac or Sephora but it serves the same purpose.

Indian bride's posing for a photo to show off her hair and makeup for her Indian wedding ceremony.
Bride wearing her nath aka nosering; PC: Greycard Photography
The Indian bride wearing her beautiful red lehenga and gold nath.
PC: Greycard Photography

Nath — nosering. Over the last couple of years fewer brides are wearing these. The nosering is worn on the left side and attaches to the bride’s ear. Big or small, simple or ornate there are all shapes, sizes and styles of naths. It is believed that piercing the left nostril near a particular node in the nostril gives women relief during their menstrual cycle. Traditionally having a nose piercing was reserved for married women, so it was done right before the wedding.

There are clip ons too for those who don’t want to get an actual nose piercing.

Maharashtrian brides wear a specific nath style called, ‘guchhedar nath’ which is made out of pearls.

PC: looksgood.in

Earrings and Necklaces. No bridal look would be complete without earrings and necklaces. And there are absolutely gorgeous ones to perfectly match each bride’s outfit. As for necklaces we’re talking about some serious statement necklaces when it comes to bridalwear. Brides usually wear long dangling earrings a chokar plus a longer chain-like necklace. During Hindu and Jain wedding ceremonies, the groom places the Mangal Sutra on the bride.

PC: Randery Imagery
PC: Randery Imagery

Mehndi aka henna: Mehndi is another bridal adornment which, according to ayurved, when applied also has skin healing and relaxing properties…just what a bride needs right before the stress of her wedding! The bride’s mehndi is usually applied 2-3 days before the wedding. The designs are very intricate and applied by skilled artists via cones, identical to how frosting is applied to cakes. Somewhere in her mehndi she has her future husband’s first name inked in and a fun post-wedding game is where he has to find it. Below, this bride made it easy for her groom to find his name, but some brides make it difficult, hiding individual letters throughout the designs and he has to find each of one!

PC: Braja Mandala Wedding Photography
PC: Greycard Photography

Baajubandh aka armlet: It’s similar to an anklet….but for your arm. This is less and less common as well. Armlets are just really beautiful pieces of jewelry. And they come in a variety of styles, colors, designs and materials.

Large peacock with gold and jewel accents as feathers
Pin for later: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/486599934715154570/
Large jewels in middle of band with short pearls dangling from it
Pin for later: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/486599934715154560/
Peacock design arm band with gold band
Pin it for later: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/486599934715154569/

Bracelets. Indian brides fill their wrists with gorgeous bracelets matching their outfit.

Indian brides mehndi and bangles on her hands
PC: Greycard Photography

For Punjabi brides these bracelets are more than just beautiful jewelry, rather Punjabi brides have a choora ceremony whereby her maternal uncle gifts her a set of 9-21 bracelets in ivory + red, or ivory + pink. And traditionally Punjabi brides wear these bracelets for the entire first year of their marriage. In ancient Indian culture (and actually a lot of cultures across the globe), daughters were not given inheritance. All of the inheritance went to the sons. Thus maternal uncles were charged with being protectors — looking out for their sisters. And the choora ceremony, whereby the maternal uncle gifts these bracelets to his niece is a manifestation of that duty.

Panja/Haath Phool aka hand chain. Another adornment for Indian brides are her panja or rings that also adorn the outer hand and attach onto her middle fingers.

An Indian bride's with beautiful, dark mehndi and panja
PC: Randery Imagery

Payal aka anklets:  In Hindu, Jain and Sikh religions these are made out of silver or other metals, stones or gems – not gold, as gold is considered the material of the gods so wearing it on one’s feet is disrespectful.

But many are also made of beads and other gems. Payal make a chink chink sound and are kinda like a signal when the bride is entering the room. Traditionally new brides continue to wear these everyday after marriage for a few years. But you don’t really see this today, outside of India as it’s not practical.

Payal come in a variety of styles, shapes and sizes and as you can see here this bride’s payal also attach to a toe ring.

An Indian bride's foot showing her mehndi and payal on her feet.

Bichue or toerings. These are another adornment traditionally observed for a wedding or after marriage only and not worn by women and girls before marriage.

In North Indian and Punjabi culture there is a bichue ceremony after the haldi where the bride’s Bhabhi or sister-in-law places bichue on the bride’s feet symbolizing that she is a bride and ready to get married.

Hair pieces. Hair adornments are also common for brides as they look beautiful.

Indian bride's hair and makeup at her mehndi

PC: Greycard Photography

Kamarbandh or waist belt. Mostly you see brides wearing these on her sangeet night vs. for the ceremony or reception.

the-antique-finish-banjara-waist-belt-kamarbandh
PC: Fashionography.in

{Take Aways}

Solah Sringar is an ancient concept with origins in Hindu mythology and ayurvedic practices. In India women are considered Shakti (power) and embodiments of the Goddess Lakshmi (Goddess of prosperity and wealth), and the solah shringar worn on all extremities protect them and regulate energy flow and blood circulation.

And…they look beautiful and symbolize a woman’s transition to a bride.


I hope this article has been helpful to you. If you have comments, questions or stories you’d like to share, feel free to post them in the comments below. Follow ShaadiShop on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and Pinterest – whatever your preferred media is, as we frequently publish articles for venue sales and catering teams.

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cover image: Greycard Photography

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