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The history of temple jewellery and south Indian weddings

In the 9th century AD, the Chola dynasty bejewelled the God in their finest ornaments as offerings during poojas. Temple jewellery has since represented the carvings of deities in temples all across South India, and has a similar etching on them till date.

Nakkashi or Nakshi done in intricate motifs of idols like Ganesha, Lakshmi, dancing deities, peacocks and also designs such as waves, dots and zig-zag patterns are popular with this jewellery. Kemp stones, which are uncut polished red and green stones, are strong characteristics of temple jewellery.  They are fitted into a gold base alongside precious and semi-precious stones like rubies, emeralds and diamonds.  The base itself can be pure gold, gold plated silver, or imitation gold, depending on the preference of the wearer.

As a trickle down culture, they began being worn by various temple dancers (Bharatnatyam, Kuchipudi, etc.) as part of their performance attire and eventually became a style statement for maharajas and maharanis. It then evolved into the highlight of the quintessential South Indian bridal trousseau.

The most glamorous pieces of temple jewellery are the harams. They come in heavy sets with pendants of idols, sometimes with strings of gold coins (the kasumalai or kasumala), adding to the charm when worn by any bride. The jhumkis often have idol and peacock motifs surrounded by petals of pearls all over, enhancing their dancing delight when they are worn.

Temple jadanagams are made with gold-plated silver studded with kemp stones, pearls and other semi-precious stones to give a traditional attractiveness and an exceptional grace to the traditional dancers. It’s also worn by brides to give a divine look to their appearance. These hair ornaments are tied from the top of the forehead to the tip of the bride’s luscious plaited hair.

Wearing temple vankis has become a status symbol for the bride wearing it on her wedding. Keeping in mind its traditional value, these armlets are given the shape of temple sanctum and mostly have Goddess Lakshmi placed in the centre to give an exquisite look to the design.

Oddayanams or Vaddyanams with motifs of Lakshmi or lotuses add an eloquent grace to the bridal look. Set intricately in precious stones, they gleam with the light as the bride moves.

These motifs are used not only because they are beautiful, but also but they are said to bring luck and prosperity, hence they become a favourite with South Indian brides. At Krishna Jewellers, Pearls & Gems, we have a splendorous collection of temple jewellery made for every South Indian bride to look heavenly on her wedding day.