Brides of Kerala, especially belonging to the Nair community, love to deck up in layers of grand necklaces – each having a distinctive motif and connotation. Every bride’s aamaadapetti (jewellery box), consists of gold ornaments that adorn her from head to toe. However, the most popular among them are necklaces such as the naagapadam, kandhasaram, kaashu mala, kuzhal mala, rasi thaali, padakka thaali, maanga mala, mullamottu mala, gaja mala among others. The nose ring is called mookuthis and is generally set with a ruby or diamond. There are a variety of bangles such as kattikappu, simha kada and ashtalakshmi vala to choose from. Some also wear the waist band called the oddiyanam. The Nair women of yore, who had extended ear lobes, wore todas or bi-convex gold discs. Today, though, jhimikis are a popular form of earrings among the brides. Set with rubies, emeralds, diamonds and pearls, these ornaments display the grand and detailed craftsmanship of Kerala goldsmiths.
- POOTHALI –
In the olden days, only the aristocratic classes wore Poothalis. Noted for intricate craftsmanship, this ornament showcases very light sheets on the necklace composed of identical stamped units with floral motifs.
- MANGA MALA –
Manga Mala is yet another traditional favourite of Kerala brides. The yellow gold ethnic necklace, features plump gem-set mango-shaped units linked into a long chain.
- KUMBLA THAALI –
A married woman holds on to her thaali dearly and is always seen wearing it, once the husband puts it around her neck on the day of the wedding. It is considered inauspicious for married women to be seen without the thaali. The designs vary according to communities.
- 1. PALAKKA MALA : The Palakka Mala was supposed to have been worn during the Dwapara Yuga of Shree Krishna. The chain derives its name from the paala tree and its red, green and blue seeds are articulated in gemstones of similar shades.
- 2. GAJA MALA : This necklace resembles a line-up of caparisoned elephants. The intricate detailing of the gaja mala is very attractive and is embedded with precious stones to enhance its beauty
- 3. KAASHU MALA : The kaashu mala is a traditional ornament worn by Brahmin brides. The necklace is conceptualised with flat coins bearing images of gods and goddesses like Lakshmi, Ganapati, Saraswati, along with the images of the moon, horse, and so on.
- 4. PAYYANUR PAVITHRA MOTHIRAM : Payyanur Pavithra Mothiram is a uniquely crafted ring, usually made of gold and silver. It is shaped like a knot and much sanctity is attached to this sacred ornament as it is believed to bring luck and blessings. Persons performing Vedic rituals wear this on the ring finger of the right hand. The three lines on top of the ring represent the three vital nerves (nadees) of the human body known as Ida, Pingala and Sushumna. It is believed that the Pavithram brings the “Trimoorthi Chaithanyam” (dynamic impact due to the presence of the holy trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva) since the knot between these three nerves together awakes or arouses the Kundalini sakthi (vital energy) of the human body. Goldsmiths, when making this ring, undergo penance by imposing self-restraint and practice vegetarianism and abstain from alcohol and all vices. Women wearing Pavithra Mothiram are supposed to remove the ring during menstrual periods.
The Pathakkam is a long chain with a pendant in the shape of the moon, and is available in many designs called Vaira minni, Chandra minni, Sakunthala, Menaka, etc. This is usually chosen as the first necklace in the layer in wedding jewellery.
- MULLAMOTTU MALA
Mullamottu mala is a stylised yellow gold necklace showcasing jasmine buds. The beauty and heady perfume of this flower has found a place of honour in many jewellery pieces in South India. Kerala brides especially wear it as a long chain.
The bell-shaped earrings, jimikis are considered to be part of temple jewellery. Today, brides prefer trendy jimikis with intricate designs and cuts set in gold displaying the elegance of the rich tradition coupled with modern nuances.
- NAGAPADA THAALI
The oldest and most famous ornament of the Nair women is the nagapada thaali or the cobra-hood necklace. Nair women believe that the nagapada thaali is given to them by the gods to instil in them the virtues of patience and calmness. The commonly used Nagapada Thali is usually composed of pieces of green glass simulating emeralds, cut in the shape of the snake’s hood, and embellished with coloured stones. Nowadays, the designs and colours are modernised.
- ASHTALAKSHMI VALA
Wearing Ashtalakshmi Vala (bangles) is believed to bring good health and prosperity. These bangles signify the eight incarnations of Goddess Lakshmi namely, Dhairyalakshmi, Vidyalakshmi, Vijayalakshmi, Dhanalakshmi, Aadilakshmi, Dhanyalakshmi, Sandanalakshmi and Gajalakshmi. Images of these incarnations in gold are set in ritualistic patterns.