“History is the version of past events that people have decided to agree upon.”
– Napoleon Bonaparte.
Tales as old as time has depicted that the definition of beauty has always been dynamic. So, if we were to dig a little deeper into our surroundings and ask our grandparents what beauty means for them, as a result, the notion of ‘Solah Shringar’ would be brought in the conversation somehow.
‘Solah’ meaning sixteen and ‘Shringar’ meaning to make-up or dress up.
Solah Shringar essentially is a toolkit of sixteen vital items that add to the beauty and charms of a woman from head to toe. But, these sixteen items have changed with time and preferences. So, addressing a larger question would be what was the beauty notion these items were addressed to and were these only a layer of charms, or is there more to the tradition that is lost with time?
According to Hindu philosophies, women are a form of Sakti, the Goddess of power. Inheriting immense strength and mood swings, the Solah Shringar ornaments play a peculiar role in protecting the body from the energy outbursts.
Shaping history by personal narratives has led to countless tales and traditions of Solah Shringar.
Legends of Radha-Krishna also participated in these juxtapositions of folklores. Claiming to allure Krishna, his beloved Radha undertook Solah Shringar. After that, married women started following this tradition to keep their marriages intact and husbands happy.
Similarly, another tale depicts the origin of Solah Shringar in the temples of God and Goddesses routes back to traditional dance forms of India. In order to keep the Gods of the temple entertained, classical dancers practiced Solah Shringar to make their performance immortal.
While the narratives are all different from one another, the continuous use of gold ornaments has been constant throughout history. Ornaments of the gold carry a symbolic value because gold as an element stands for resilience, purity, and prosperity much like the hypothetical tales presented likewise.
The 16 ornaments (or maybe more)
Changing narratives have often left the sixteen items dynamic. To narrow down or to claim these are the perfect sixteen would be a mistake. As we present the “Solah Shringar”, we simply aim at exploring the potential why’s of their existence.
The point between eyebrows is inclined to unease and tension. Massaging this point daily through the application of a bindi helps in relaxing the muscles and nerves in this area and thus sending a calming tone for the body.
Vermillion powder or Sindoor contains turmeric, lime, and a minute level of the metal, mercury. When applied to the hair partition, the elements help in cooling down the body.
A maangtika adds appealing aesthetics to the face. Not only this it helps in regulating heat emission from the body.
The Kajal not only brings out the beautiful shapes of the eye but it also helps in keeping eyes healthy. Organic kajal made of coal and cooper possesses anti-bacterial properties.
Piercing the nose near a particular point on the nostril helps in lessening the pain during monthly periods in women.
Wearing a necklace helps regulate blood pressure and heart rate.
Ear piercing and earring wearing are a remedy for menstrual problems and in addition, have an acupuncture effect on the body.
Application of mehndi can help prevent stress because it cools the body and keeps the nerves from becoming tense.
Despite being beautiful and vibrant, the bangles help in increasing blood circulation in the hand.
Adding another layer of auspiciousness, the Rajasthani and South Indian brides are seen wearing this ornament on their upper arm of the hand.
Rajasthani and South Indian brides usually wear this ornament on their upper arm of the hand as it is considered auspicious.
They are a reminder for controlling women from putting on weight, especially around the hips and belly.
12. Hair Ornaments
Ornaments such as jasmine flowers were traditionally worn as they were aesthetically pleasing and in addition, were preferred for their long-lasting fragrance. It keeps the wearer fresh all day long.
13. Finger rings
Rings pressurize fingers. Therefore, connecting some part of the body or brain rings act as acupuncture for the fingers. However, not thumb.
Wearing an anklet adds rhythm to the movements. Not only this it adds to the foot strength of the wearer.
Hygiene is of utmost importance. Therefore, the scent helps keep odor away and wearer fresh.
In addition to the glamour and beauty, a dupatta protects from heat and dust particles.
Contemporary Views on Solah Shringar
With time only the traditions have transcended. So, history has left behind the logic, essence, and stories. But maybe there’s fun to stories like these whose origin is now subjective and the practices more like a personal choice. In conclusion, even as we move forward in this pandemic world, we are curating our own “Solah Shringar” knowingly or maybe unknowingly.
So, what’s are your Solah Shringar’s like? What is your connect and disconnect to this tradition?
Also follow Rajasthan Studio on Instagram for more amazing art and travel content. Reach out to us on email at contact[at]rajasthanstudio[dot]com. This blog is curated Rajasthan Studio and written by Pallavi Baheti.