Can a culture be defined without mentioning its traditional jewelry pieces? NO! similarly the traditional jewelry of Uttarakhand, fashioned out of silver or gold, adds grace and femininity to the personalities of Pahari women donning those ornaments as the spirit of rich Uttarakhandi culture. However, with the change in the trends, these jewelry pieces have started losing their individualities. Pahadi women’s inclination is increasing towards the contemporary modern designs because of which the old-styled jewelry pieces have become a rare sight.
Now, most of the Pahadi women can be seen adorning the contemporary jewelry designs that are flashy and expensive but lacks the elegance- found in the traditional designs. Pahari jewelry is incomplete without the ornaments such as Bulaq (gold or silver nose ring), Kundal (gold or silver earrings), Paunje (silver anklets), Paunchi and extravagant gold necklaces such as Hansuli and Galobandh etc.
Uttarakhandi women togged up in the local jewelries designs, those traditional ornaments worn by them are simple yet carry the essence of the state’s culture. One of the favorite and important jewelry of the Kumaon married women is ‘Paunchi’.
Paunchi a traditional jewelry, indigenous to Uttarakhand, are basically bangles that are made out of gold and are quite popular in both Garhwal as well as Kumaon region of Uttarakhand. In Kumaon, Pahunchi is considered to be an auspicious jewel for the married women and is worn at the time of festivals and important family functions.
Pahunchi is made from Ribbed Gheru beads arranged in three parallel rows attached with strings to it and is generally fashioned out of 200 grams to 300 grams of gold or more depending on the status of the bride’s family. A red colored “Shaneel” fabric is used as the base material on which the pure gold pearls are studded. Red is used on this traditional bracelet as it is considered to be propitious for married women which also symbolizes Purity and Veracity.
In olden days Uttarakhandi women always used to wear jewelry and to make it comfortable Shaneel fabric was used. It is also believed that Pahunchi possess health benefits too, tied around the wrist it helps in blood circulation and internal heat regulation.
Acclaimed for its traditional elegance and graceful brilliance, Nathuli or Nath is the charm of Pahari women since time immemorial. Without this Uttarakhand’s jewellery piece, the attire of Pahari women is incomplete especially during weddings. It is put on by the women of Garhwal, Kumaon and Jaunsar-Bawar region of Uttarakhand. However, the style and design may differ in these regions but its charisma remains the same. The Nath or nose ring of a bride is the star attraction during the wedding. The weight and number of pearls inserted in a Nath indicate the status of the family of the bride. Nathuli is different from the Nath worn in plain regions and it is generally made out of 30-50 gram of gold.
The downward section of Nathuli contains three stars of red and green colour, in order that the whole weight doesn’t falls on the pupils’ nose, it is clipped to the hair with the help of a hook attached to a silver chain. Tehri Nath celebrated for its artistic design is one of the most distinguished ornament of Uttarakhand which is worn at the time of marriage, social gatherings, puja and at important family functions. This large piece of jewelry not only showcases the rich culture of Garhwal but it has also become a fashion statement which attracts a lot of Pahari as well as non-Pahari brides to wear it. In some places it is also known as Baser.
The word Hansuli in local dialect means collarbone, is a remarkable traditional jewelry of Uttarakhand which symbolizes the rich ethnic background of the state and completes the attire of both Garhwali and kumaoni women. Pahadi women take pride in carrying their tribal state ornaments with womanliness confidence. Hansuli, popularly known as Hasli and ‘Khagwali’ in Garhwali is a collar necklace that women clutch around their neck. It is a heavy ornament which is fashioned out of precious silver metal, generally made out of 200-500 grams of silver rendered with beads. However, affluent families prefer this gorgeous neck piece in pure gold.
Hansuli adds a touch of elegance and grace to the apparel of the local Uttarakhandi women. The definite floral designs carved on it make this jewelry a stunning one by the artisans who also leave it hollow so that it is comfortable to wear. This priceless jewelry is sported during festivals, weddings, fairs, social gatherings and important family functions and is mainly donned by the Garhwali, Kumaoni, Jaunsari and Bhotiya women.
Hansuli is considered to be a classic jewelry piece that brings out the beauty of Pahari women. But in this modern era, the charm of Hansuli is fading as people are getting attracted towards the contemporary jewelry. If this continues no sooner the traditional jewelry will lose its entity. However, it has made its place as a contemporary silver ornament that compliments both western and Indian attire. Today, there are lots of versions made of this intricate ornament.
Every culture inherits the traditional jewel design from their ancestors, Uttarakhand’s ornamental history is far beyond rich, Galobandh is one such jewel that bears a major position among the heap of old-style jewellery. Galobandh also known as ‘Galabandh’ is one of the prominent jewelleries of Kumaoni culture which is made out of 10-30 gram of precious Gold metal. This elite neck piece is donned by Kumaoni, Garhwali, Bhotiya and Jaunsari women.
The Galobandh as the name suggests is tied around the neck and is only worn by the married women. It is designed in such a way that it caresses the neck circle of the women. The uniqueness of Galobandh is that it is designed on a red belt of Shaneel fabric measured around 3 Cm, on which 10-12 golden square shaped jewellery pieces are beautifully arranged with the help of a thread.
However, it being an elegant jewellery is getting out of fashion as modern jewellery has captured the markets, making no room for traditional ornaments. Modern Lockets have replaced these pieces of traditional stuffs. While the ornament is highly liked by the rural women it is not much popular among those who reside in the cities. In Kumaon region Guloband is also called Ramnavami.
Kamarbandh (Tagdi or Tigdi)
Kamarbandh is worn around the waist line which is garnered by the women of different communities of Uttarakhand. There are two types of Kamarbandh one is made out of cloth the other is made out of silver. Also called Peti and Kardhani, it is made of silver metal of 300 gram to 1 kilogram. It is worn over the traditional attire and tied around the waist to make it appear more feminine and delicate.
Many Garhwali and Kumauni women still sport this unique jewellery that adds five-star to their beauty. Made up in 4-5 layers attached close to one another, Tagdi is only Possessed by affluent families. This ornament is worn only during most important functions.
Some Uttarakhand’s traditional ornaments are left far behind, they have almost lost themselves amidst the new trends introduced to the changing culture, sadly, one among those ornament is Bulaq. Bulaq is considered to be an important ornament of hilly regions, it is made out of 5-10 gram of gold, its upper section is attached with a reverse U-shaped hook, the middle portion of a Bulaq is broad, which takes a conical shape at reaching the bottom of it.
Bulaq is an attractive jewellery which is worn at the nasal septum. It is peculiarly designed by the skilful goldsmiths who carve intricate motif designs on it. In the yester years, it was worn by the women of Garhwal, Kumaon and of Jaunsar belt. But nowadays the craze for Bulaq is over and now it is considered as an old trend.