Gujrati Bridal Attire symbolism & 5 styling tips for all Brides to create a perfect Bridal Look
Gujrati weddings are so colourful and full of celebration and laughter. We take so much inspiration from the outfits, to décor to photography from Bollywood.
But the ceremonies that take place, and the rituals have a meaning behind them too.
I’m going to explore some of those below. (Styling tips are in italics).
All brides images below have had hair and makeup done from Jaineesha. Photographers have been mentioned under the image.
Definitely not only for weddings nowadays but this is usually one of the celebrations in the lead up to the wedding. The Bride will have mehndi applied which can take anything from 3 to 7 hours or even more.
Mehndi is made from crushed leaves from the henna plant mixed with a concoction of oils and water to create a toothpaste like paste. This is then filled into a cone and applied onto the Bride’s skin creating elaborate and intricate designs. The paste is left on to dry for anything from 12-24 hours and then scraped off to reveal a dark orange – brown stain which remains for a few weeks.
Nowadays, Mehndi can be creates to feature how the Bride and groom met, where he proposed, pick up on the elements from the bridal lehenga and so much more.
Traditionally it was said that darker the stain, the more the mother-in-law will love the Bride, or the marriage will be prosperous. It’s actually the way the mehndi is looked after once applied, and the body temperature and the paste that determines how dark the stain will be. (Please stay away from an artificial mehndi products and stick to 100% natural to avoid scarring and reactions).
My favourite is Bharathi Sanghani – I urge all Brides to book in with her if she’s available. We were lucky to have her last year for my sister’s Bridal mehndi which looked beautiful!
Photography By Indy Sagoo
Mehndi by Bharathi Sanghani
Traditionally most south Asian brides will wear bangles. Gujrati Brides may wear 'Kakan Ni Churi'. I wore 3 closest to my elbow on each arm which were gifted to me by my maternal uncle with my bridal bangles infront.
From what I’ve heard, traditionally they would have been made from an elephant tusk (very very long time ago). Now there are made from a combination of plastic (not great for the environment but we keep them for a life time) and may also have some gold on it. Gujrati Brides aren’t expected to wear their wedding bangles after the wedding day, however we are told traditionally that are wrists shouldn’t be kept bare. I always wear bangles when I wear Indian attire as I feel it finishes my look, and really who doesn’t love bangles!
If you buy a set, and then incorporate a traditional set or gold bangles gifted from the family, be sure to try them before hand and make sure they all fit. (You may have to remove some inbetween the design for them all to fit on the arm and feel comfortable.)
Photography by Indy Sagoo
… or naaths are a big part of the whole bridal look. You can get all shapes, and sizes and one with a attachment piece to relieve the weight and ones without.
For Gujrati’s, traditionally they’re said to be worn only on the wedding and thereafter. They’re also worn as a sign of respect to Goddess Parvati and seek blessings from her for the marriage and union to be a blessed, joyous one.
Another theory is that the piercing (usually on the left nostril) can help with period pains due to the areas ‘connection with the female reproductive organs.
I remember my Baa (grandma) saying that back in the day the in laws side would gift certain items to the new bride such as bangles, Bindi, Sindoor and a Naath would be one of them. If the Bride didn’t have a nose pierced it would be done there and then by the in-laws family! (Horrendous I know!)
It’s definitely a fashion statement. If you opt for one, firstly go for a size that feels comfortable and is proportional to your face size. Avoid heavy ones and the last thing you want to do is think about your nose ring or Naath slipping off all day long. Make sure it is secure once on, and if you are wearing one, be sure the lip colour that is applied by your makeup artist is one that does not budge. (Liquid Lipsticks work quite well).
Photography by The Directors Cut, Memoirz, Indy Sagoo (from left to right)
Jewellery by Goenka Jewels in first image and Sokora Jewels in middle image.
A Bindi (or commonly known as a Chandlo by Gujrati’s) is worn by Gujrati brides, again we may see it as a fashion statement however the red dot symbolises the third eye, or can be seen to ward off evil. I always carry a pack of traditional Bindi’s in my bridal kit as I find this is what Brides can forget about amongst all the other prep.
I love a traditional dot – colour can be matched or contrast to your outfit. I recommend a block colour rather than a small diamond as it will show up better in photography. You can even opt for a round Bindi with diamonds around it for more of a modern touch.
I have also had Brides in the past who had asked me to paint white dots on them (also known as a Pir) which would traditionally be worn across the eyebrows however some brides opt for it to just be worn around the Bindi. Both are beautiful.
First two images by Real Vision, third image on right by Memoirz
Sindoor is the red powder that is applied by the Groom into the Brides parting. This is fully exclusive for married women only and can be worn daily if you prefer. I tend to wear mine if I’m attending a wedding or a celebration whilst wearing Indian attire. The Sindoor is said to signify the female energy and to activate sexual drive… (interesting.) We don’t talk about sex within the south Asian community but we have items to signify and symbolise it.
I love wearing Sindoor and feel it completes my look especially when I’m wearing a traditional silk or Bandhani saree, but I don’t wear it every day.
Do you wear yours every day?
Mangal = Holy
Sutra = Thread
The Mangalsutra is traditionally gifted from the in-laws side to the new bride. It’s tied around the brides neck to symbolise she is now a married woman.
You can get various different shapes and designs. All of them will have black beads along it and some have gold and others don’t.
I again tend to wear mine when I’m wearing Indian attire, but you can buy some that fit with a western attire too. I have two different lengths. I wear the longer one if I’m wearing a necklace, and wear the shorter one if I’m not wearing a necklace.
Do you wear yours every day? Do you think we should?
Lehenga or saree Panetar GharChoro
More commonly Gujrati Brides are now opting to wear a lehenga (skirt and blouse with a scarf or dupatta). Traditionally Brides would wear a saree or a Panetar which would be gifted by the maternal family.
I have seen made Brides over the past few years wear a lehenga and then incorporate the Panetar and the Gharchoro (a saree gifted from the in-laws) into their outfit, and its been done beautifully. I’ve had some brides wear their panetar as a chundri to cover their hair, I’ve had a bride wear her gharchoro as a chundri for the body. And I’ve had some brides that haven’t done either. There’s no right or wrong and depends on the family and what they’ve been practising. Some Brides also opt to wear traditional Panetar colours within their lehenga to honour the tradition.
My parent’s gifted my sarees to take with me to my in-laws place and 8 years later I’m still using them. We chose sarees that were simple enough for me to wear to the mandir, or could also be dressed up to wear to weddings. I’ve got really good wear out of them, and will be wearing them for many more years.
Photography from left to right - Samsara Studios, Dino Jeram, Vineet Johri
I hope that answer’s some of your questions but also helped to figure out what you would like to incorporate within your bridal look to tie back to our heritage.
Is there anything else that you do as a family? Let me know below.
(All views above are my own or what’s come up during discussions with brides and family. I appreciate this will not be 100% true for all Gujrati’s as traditions, rituals and beliefs vary from family to family.)
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