This beautiful silver and gold plated cluster of flowers and leaves and other shapes, is typically worn by Punjabi brides, and is attached to their chooda, which is the cluster of red and white auspicious angels worn by the bride. The wearing of kalira is a lovely ritual in itself and takes place just before the wedding. It is meant to bring in joy and prosperity and good luck for the bride and her loved ones. After the kalerein are tied to the bride’s wrists by the women in the family, she turns around to a waiting row of all the bridesmaids and rubs her wrists together over their heads as a token of good luck. The lucky girl who finds herself showered with the flowers and leaves is likely to get married next. This is quite similar to the Christian wedding tradition that originated in England. In this ritual, the bride tosses the bridal bouquet behind the eager crowd of bridesmaids and runs away.
According to folk lore, the kalera was originally made of dried coconut (hence the shell shaped ornaments) meant to take care of the bride’s hunger pangs as she travelled from her maiden home to her in laws. The idea was this – when hungry, the new bride who was too shy to speak out, could nibble on the coconut behind the veil.
From fresh flowers, beads and shells to real gold and silver, kalirein can take on many forms. Recently we saw Priyanka Chopra Jonas customise her kalirein with cutout figures that told the Nickyanka love story. Traditional brides may want to sport the usually jhoomar, umbrella or dome shaped kalira with gold plating and a flurry of leaves. The more adventurous bride could go for a personalised kale era or one with a burst of colours and quirky designs and texts.