Why I wear these red and white bangles?

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| Harvin Kaur Deol | Editor’s Pick | 4 Sept 2015 | Asia Samachar |
Harvin Kaur Deol and the chura on her wedding day - PHOTO JESMESH SINGH
Harvin Kaur Deol and the chura on her wedding day – PHOTO JESMESH SINGH

I bet many are wondering the reason/importance of those red and white bangles I’ve got on there these couple of days after my wedding. You’ve seen me wearing them in all my pictures starting from the day I got married.

You might have been wondering how the heck she keeps them on and fucntions everyday with them? Some of you might also wonder does she takes them off and wears them again? Some have asked upfront why i wear them.

On my honeymoon (imagine wearing shorts in Hawaii and having these striking red and white bangles on…yup not a usual sight…), I had people staring at me. Some asked if the bangles were heavy?

I’ve got so much of attention lately wherever I go, especially here in California, because of these bangles. So today I’ve decided to write a short note (will try to make it short and precise) on the significance of wearing these bangles called chura in Punjabi.

First, I would like to emphasize that this tradition is one of a culture, not religion. So I do not expect any religious debate on this. Also, this tradition is entirely a matter of personal choice and is not mandatory in terms of the Sikh faith. Now that we’ve got that clear, let’s start of with two basic questions: What is this tradition? And what is it for?

A chura is a set of red and whilte bangles which has to be compulsorily worn (per tradition) by a Punjabi  bride on her wedding day. The tradition originates from Punjab, the northern part of India. A Punjabi bride, be it a Hindu or a Sikh, wears the chura usually in these two colours. Although now you have modern brides wearing other colours – purple, pink, orange or whatever colour that goes with their wedding outfits – red and white are the traditional colours of the chura.

The chura (also spelt as choora) ceremony is usually held on the morning of the wedding (eventhough I had mine at night, made it easier otherwise I had to wake up at 2am to get them on). The bride’s maternal uncles and brothers gives her the chura which has a set of 21 bangles. According to tradition, a bride must wear the chura for at least a year. Yes, you got that right, a whole freaking year until the colour fades off! However nowadays (thanks to modern times and supportive in-laws) the bride usually wears the chura for 40/45 days after the wedding and then takes it off. Lucky me! The best part, which I shall say is the romantic part of the tradition, is that the husband takes the chura off after the 40/45 days. Ahem (add smiley emoticon here). 

Wearing the chura signifies the status of a married woman. It indicates that she is a new wed. Therefore, with the chura on, the new bride is not expected to do any household chores and is supposedly to be treated as a queen even though that’s not usually the case and we often have to get back to work and to reality.

Hence, the woes of a new Punjabi bride is often the daily living and functioning with the chura. You do not want to know how we function with them from sleeping to changing and taking showers. Yup, it isn’t easy at all being a Punjabi bride, kind of hate wearing it but love having them on at the same time. It’s more like a love-hate kind of relationship with the chura.

Having said this, a Punjabi bride’s complete look must include the wedding chura. It also signifies prosperity and is worn for the well being of the husband. Yup, things Indian brides do for their husbands till date. (Add another emoticon here, laughing out loud).

Back in the days, the bride was not even allowed to see the chura till the wedding because out of excitement, her own evil eye may bring misfortune. Therefore the bride’s eyes were closed when the chura was put on by her relatives. However, with the changing times, the customs have been modified according to the needs and common sense I guess.

Some say if the bride takes the chura off before the 40th day, something bad may happen to the couple. But it is often a personal choice, some say based on superstitious belief. I rather have them on just to be safe. Does’t hurt to be a little superstitious at times, plus, hello, the attention given! Can’t complain. So I guess few traditions are still practiced and will be practiced for years to come and wearing the wedding bangles is one of them.

Finally, to all new brides and some of my friends who just got married, enjoy each moment of having the chura on even though it may be a nuisance at times. Remember, you are only going to wear them once in a life time. Also, to all would-to-be brides out there, take great effort in choosing your chura wisely as you will be wearing them for quite some time after your wedding and they will be the center of attention at all times. I suggest stick to the tradition and opt for the red and white ones, you will never go wrong.

PS: I will be taking off my beautiful chura this coming Monday. Will miss the attention and the sight of them on my hands. Till then, going to cherish each and every moment of this sparkling red and white sight! Leaving you guys with a few pictures of my chura.

 

Malaysian-born Harvin Kaur Deol was recently married. She taught English at a Malaysian school and now lives in Los Angeles, California. This is an edited version of her Facebook posting on 4 Sept 2015. Photo by Jesmesh Singh.

 

[ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs in Southeast Asia and surrounding countries. We have a Facebook page, do give it a LIKE. Follow us on Twitter. Visit our website: www.asiasamachar.com]

 

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