This holy thread worn by women after marriage symbolises the real meaning and concept of a Hindu marriage.
It is worn as a symbol of marital dignity and chastity. It is a promise from a husband to his wife that they will always stay together. It depicts the union of the husband and the wife and protects them from evil. The thali or mangalsutra occupies a significant position in Hindu marriages and rituals.
The thali is no ordinary ornament and has a specific meaning in relation to your Godhead in Hinduism. In various religious circles of Hinduism, this holy gold thread is named differently.
For South Indians, it is known as the thali or thirumangalyam, whereas North Indians call it the mangalsutra.
Nevertheless, the meaning and significance of this gold thread remains the same. The thali is a mark of respect, love and dignity which is presented to the wife by her husband during the auspicious hour of the marriage day. It is a revered symbol of Hindu marriage.
Wearing the Mangalsutra
The Mangalsutra is not just a piece of jewelry that a woman wears, but it is considered to be one of the three most important ‘Soubagyalankar’ (Soubhagya = marital status as married; alankar = ornament); an ornament that tells the world that the wearer of this ornament is a married woman.
The mangalsutra originally was just a basic yellow thread, dyed with turmeric paste to which the pendant or the ‘Tanmaniya’ is tied. Later it evolved as black and gold beads are threaded on this sacred thread.
The mangalsutra is placed around the woman’s neck by her husband during the process of marriage. The priest utters these mantras on behalf of the groom in Sanskrit, “Mangalyam thanthunanena mama jeevana hetuna / Kante badhnami shubage thwam jeeva sarada satam”, which translates into “This sacred thread is responsible for the wellbeing of my life. You are the one having many auspicious qualities. I am tying this thread around your neck with the hope that you live hundred long years with me”
Historically, the thali was first mentioned in the 11th century by the religious poet, Katchiyappa Sivachariar in his book, Kanthapuranam. Later, it was mentioned by 12th century poets, Kamban and Seikizhar of Periyapuranam. Since then, the thali was believed to have come into practice.
The markings of a God
Generally, the followers of Lord Shiva have 3 horizontal lines and the followers of Vishnu have 3 vertical lines in their thali design.
Beliefs of the benefits of the ‘thali’
A thali is believed to regularise a woman’s blood circulation. It is said to have the ability to control the level of pressure in a woman’s body. This is why it is advised to keep the thali hidden or covered as the constant friction of the gold with the body will regulate the blood and pressure level of a woman.
For North Indians, the holy thread is adorned in a form of a black and gold beaded necklace. The gold represents Goddess Parvati and the black beads which hold the gold symbolises Lord Shiva. As gold is a symbol of prosperity and well-being, a women wearing a mangalsutra is believed to bring happiness and prosperity to the family.
Furthermore, the black beads are believed to represent the many strands of emotions that goes into making up a husband and wife. The mangalsutra is also considered as a talisman to prevent the evil eye. Each black bead is believed to have divine powers; to absorb all the negative vibrations and protect the marriage of a couple, especially the life of the husband.
Hindu women do get superstitious when this sacred thread is lost, stolen or gets broken. In present time, the wearing of this holy thread has considerably reduced. Modernisation has caused many women to not wear it on a daily basis and for some; it is more of a fashion statement than a symbol of marriage.
Regardless, this holy thread definitely symbolises the real meaning and concept of a Hindu marriage.