Toe rings have been an intrinsic part of women’s attire in India, since the time of the Ramayana. According to legend, when Sita was abducted by Ravana, she threw away her toe rings so that Rama could find her.
In modern times, it is worn mostly for style and sometimes as part of tradition. The shape, design and form of the toe ring differs from one part of the country to the other. But it is all related to a women’s sexual and reproductive health and marital status. In some communities, the groom puts on the toe ring for the bride on both of her second toes in an elaborate ritual. Once worn, you are never supposed to take it off.
A bichiya in Hindi, it is also called minji in Malayalam, jodavi in Marathi, Mettelu in Telugu, Angot in Bengali, Metti/Kanaiyazhi in Tamil, Kaalungura in Kannada. Traditionally, toe rings were rarely crafted in gold as gold is supposed to be a metal or Goddess Lakshmi. Crafted mostly in silver and worn as a pair on the second toe on both the feet, bichua or bichiya was worn by married women in our country and in other cases by girls who have attained puberty. Gold toe rings were worn by royal women though gold bichuas with precious stones are also quite the trend these days. Once worn, the bichua was never taken off, and was said to positively affect a woman’s menstrual cycle, making her more fertile. That is of course what ayurveda has to say about it. Apparently, the nerves that run through the second toe go right up to the uterus and the heart! But married or not, traditional bichuas have now evolved into more trendy, western style toe rings worn by women – both married and single – for a stylish effect. In fact, toe rings attached to an anklet with delicate chains, in aversion of the slave chains, gives a boho chic effect.