Marriage Pendant (Thali)

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY

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The tha[a]li or mangal[a]sutra is a South Asian pendant necklace tied around a wife’s neck with three knots on her wedding day. "Mangalsutra" comes from the Sanskrit word for "auspicious cord." This refers to the thread itself, traditionally dyed yellow with turmeric or saffron, and threaded with black beads. Thali refers to the pendants which are usually gold. Often these words refer to many forms of protective, gold, marriage necklaces. Traditionally the tying of the mangalsutra by the groom was a legally binding act. The woman wears the necklace as a symbol of her status as a married woman.Gowda, Gomathi. “Mangalsutra: The sacred pendant of women as symbol of Marriage in India.” SAARC Culture, vol. 6, 2018, pp. 22-34, In the modern era, there is a debate about whether tying the mangalsutra is enough to legitimate a marriage. This debate includes discussions of consent and equal partnership. In Hindu traditions, the woman wears the mangalsutra throughout the husband’s life ensuring his and the marriage’s well-being. But many modern women choose to remove theirs, citing its function as a visual mark of ownership.

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