Dogra jewellery

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Dogra jewellery

Ashok Sharma , Dogra Jewellery "Daily Excelsior" 29/10/2017

Some Dogra artifacts Daily Excelsior" 29/10/2017

Jewellery is an integral part of human culture. Since primitive times, desire in man to wear jewellery has been predominant and human beings used to wear leaves and flowers, even before they learnt to wear clothes, to decorate their bodies and embellish themselves to look better.

As the time advanced, people began to wear ornaments made of metals such as copper and iron to look more beautiful and handsome.So far India is concerned, many items of jewellery have been in vogue since olden times and jewellery in the Indian culture has spiritual and social significance.Our Rishis and astrologists prescribed metals/precious stones dedicated to planets to please them to have their blessings and avoid negative influences on their life.Moreover, wearing various items of jewellery is considered to be beneficial in many ways.For instance, wearing toe rings is considered to regulate blood pressure,waistband maintains shape of the body and earrings help to improve our nervous system.Even in our scrpitures, there is reference to jewellery.There are references to ‘Chudamani’ necklace in Ramayana and the pearls and gems that Pandavas lost to Kauravas in the gambling match. Jewellery items have also been found from Mohnjo Daro, the seat of Indus Valley Civilization.As the times progressed, many item of jewellery were added in the Gupta Period and the Moghul period,which are in vogue even now.Thus, jewellery has been an integral part of Indian culture.India, being known across the world as ‘gold bearing’ land,attracted a no of travellers and even invaders to its soil.Of all metalic jewellery,Gold jewellery has been the most sought after, perhaps because of its lustrous golden look and high maleability.Moreover,Gold is considered as the symbol of Goddess Luxmi; so gold rings are never worn in feet.Diamond jewelley has also now gained popularity across India.Jewellery, in India,tends to show the social status of the persons wearing it , besides making them look more beautiful and enhancing their confidence.Moreover, some people also buy it to keep it as safe investment for future.Even in the modern times craze for jewellery is so much that it is gifted on the eve of happy occassions and it also finds mention in Indian film songs such as ‘jhumka gira re’, ‘Is Reshmi Pajeb ki Jhankar ke Sadke’.’Le Chhalla Nishani’, Dhoondo re Sajna mere Kaan ka Baala’etc.Similarly many Indian films such as, Mother India, Sholay, Don etc have inspired theme based jewellery which the hero/heroine wore as per the plot of the film.Jewellry plays an important role in Indian Classical dances such as Bharatnatyam, Kuchipudi,Kathak and the dancers performing these dances are embellished with their parts such as ankles, toes, neckline, waistline, wrists, heads, plait, ears etc being decorated with ornaments.

Jewellery has become such an important part of the Dogra culture that it is customary for all Dogras-rich and poor to gift some items of jewellery to the daughter, daughter-in-law, son-in-law the time of marriage.Even on occasions other than weddings, such as ‘Sutra’, ‘Mundan’, Havans, etc it is customary for Dogra women to wear jewellery, especially the ‘Nath’ at the time of performing various rituals.Not only this, even a Dogra married woman, if she dies before her husband,is fully decorated with jewellery before being cremated.Such is the impact of jewellery on our social and religious life.Dogra rulers were also fond of jewellery and Kamarband and Pearl necklaces were an integral part of their jewellery.The Dogra rulers of our state are reported to have left behind them sparkling necklaces, bracelets, rings, bangles, watches, besides the crowns and ceremonial swords.Many of these items are studded with precious gems and pearls.So far Dogra women are concerned, they are so fond of jewellery that there is hardly any Dogra woman, who doesnot wear one or the other item of jewellery everyday.Some jewellery is associated with marriage.For example,Nath or Baalu is gifted to the bride at the time of marriage by her maternal uncle ( mama) and it signifies her suhaag or marital bliss.It is usually embedded with rubies and other such material with a string attached to it.Similarly,Tikka is another item which is commonly gifted by the inlaws and forms part of ‘Bari’ brought by the inlaws of the bride at the time of solemnisation of marriage.’Jhumkes’, of various designs and ‘ballians’ (earrings) are also donned by Dogra women in their ears.There used to be many items of jewellery worn by the Dogra women on their heads.They used to wear ‘flowers of silver’, ‘samosas’, ‘chak’, ‘chumber suiyaan’,gold clip,’ardhchandrama’,’shinghar patti’, etc on their heads.Many of these items have either vanished or losing craze with the modern generation.The ‘chura’ of bangles worn on the wrist symbolises recent marriage of a girl.Gold/silver bangles,’gokhru’,’muride’,etc are other items donned by Dogra women on their wrists.Owning a ‘naulakhia haar’-a necklace worth nine lakhs and having nine strings and ‘Rani haar’used to be the cherished dream of every Dogra woman.Similarly, women in the past used to wear a necklace having varying no of ‘bugdian’attached to a silk thread and a’houldali’ at the end.

These necklaces have now been replaced by expensive ‘Namas’ and ‘Mangal Sutras’.It is at the time of marriage that the bridegrooms used to gift ‘krichrian’to his sister in laws and their friends but the practice has now been replaced by gifting costly things such as ‘gold’rings or mobile phones etc. Not only gold jewellery, silver jewellery is also very popular among the Dogra women. ‘Payals’, ‘gobhichain’ ‘basantians’,’karrians’, ‘torey’and ‘shallians’ made of silver are usually worn by women respectively in their ankles and finger toes as, gold being a symbol of Goddess Luxmi, cannot be worn at these places. An armlet known as ‘Nant’used to be worn by women on ‘Nant Chodyya’ and the Dogra women keep a fast on this auspicious day. To ward off the evil effects, it is a custom in rural and urban areas to make the young children wear ”chandrama’ (the moon) made of silver. Newly born children are also gifted kadas’ /bracelets’ called ‘swarg seedi’ (staircase to heaven) by their maternal/ paternal grandmothers while they have their great grand children. Jewellery is not limited to women only. It is equally popular with Dogra men. Prominent Dogra men used to wear ‘nantian’ in their ears and ‘kanthas’ and ‘karian’ respectively around their necks and ankles to flaunt their status.Moreover, it is customary for the Dogras to gift Bracelets called ‘Karas’ or gold chains to the bridegroom at the time of Ring ceremony/marriage.The pictures of Dogra kings show them wearing costly gems and pearls in their necklaces. Thus, jewellery has always occupied a prominent place in the life of Dogras.But many items of Dogra jewellery have either vanished and gone out of vogue or have been modified/replaced by the new items of various designs. There is need to preserve the old items of jewellery and expose the young generation to these items.For this purpose, it is imperative that exhibitions based on the theme of Dogra jewellery are organised at Block, Tehsil and District level. Children should also be encouraged to wear such items while performing cultural items on the eve of National Day Celebrations and other occasions.

(The writer is serving as lecturer in English, School Education Department, Govt of J&K).

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