Gorgeous, royal, the maang tikka is literally the crown jewel of the Indian bridal trousseau. While the west may boast of elegant and pristine tiaras that make their white-veiled brides appear as princesses of our fairy tales, the maang tikka is all about refined Inadn aesthetics.
Designed with colourful gemstones that are often inlaid upon a base of gold and kundan, maang tikkas make our brides appear as Queens.
The maang tikka essentially consists of a hanging jewel that ends as a drop to rest on the parted hairline of the wearer, while its other end has a hair pin to clip it to the hairdo. The two ends are joined by a heavy chain that rests along the parting of the hair.
Maang tikkas date as far back to the Mauryas of the 4th century BC. Over time each region has evolved it own take on the Maang Tikka.
Maang tikkas in the eastern region took a more subtle appearance or with two connected horizontal chains hooked on either side of the centrally positioned maang tikka chain. They were often made of gold or silver with filigree patterns and sometimes inlaid with gemstones. The beauty of the style maang tikka is often remembered in the breathtaking shot of a shy Aishwarya Rai in her bridal jewels in the film Chokher Bali.
In the tribal areas, such maang tikkas were made of shells and feathers, depending on the available resources. In the western region of the country, among the Rajput royalty and in their respective regions, the maang tikkas took a distinct regal appearance with detailed work of gold and kundan jewellery and meenakari encrusted gems like rubies and emeralds. The tip of the jewel, the tikka, also took a distinct 3D cone-shaped appearance as the symbol of a married woman. Visible in films such as Ram-Leela and Padmavat and in Jodhaa-Akbar.
The southern states developed their own unique maang tikkas consisting of singular or multiple horizontal chains alongside the vertical chained hook of the jewel. Alongside the maang tikka, there is a pair of crescent or circular shaped jewels called passa that are attached on either side of it to symbolize the sun and the moon. The entire set is traditionally worn by Maharashtrian and South Indian brides and South Indian classical dance performers. Such passas are often designed with hanging fan-shaped gold filigree, called the jhoomar passa.
Deepika Padukone’s Konkani wedding trousseau is an example of the traditional South Indian maang tikka and passa. Among Islamic brides, the tradition of wearing fan-shaped jhoomar maang tikkas on one side of the head along one’s side parting has also remained popular. This kind of maang tikka earned its popularity after Kareena Kapoor Khan was seen wearing it in her official royal wedding picture with Saif Ali Khan and in the film Agent Vinod, where they co-starred.
The maang tikkas have now become a necessary fashion statement for young women, who team it with their lehngas and sarees. Jahnvi Kapoor, Sara Ali Khan and other young Bollywood actors have been popularising this trend.