The thali is not an ordinary ornament. In different regions around India, this holy gold thread is named differently. In Southern India, it is known as the thali or thirumangalyam, whereas people in the north call it the mangalsutra.
Nevertheless, the meaning and significance of this gold thread remains the same. The thali is a mark of respect, love and dignity which is presented to the wife by her husband during the auspicious hour of the marriage day. It is a revered symbol of Hindu marriage.
Historically, the thali was first mentioned in the 11th century by the religious poet, Katchiyappa Sivachariar in his book, Kanthapuranam. Later, it was mentioned by 12th century poets, Kamban and Seikizhar of Periyapuranam. Since then, the thali was believed to have come into practice.
Generally, the followers of Shiva have 3 horizontal lines and the followers of Vishnu have 3 vertical lines in their thali design. However, the introduction of the caste system divided the design for the thali in Southern India.
A thali is believed to regularise a woman’s blood circulation. It is said to have the ability to control the level of pressure in a woman’s body. This is why it is advised to keep the thali hidden or covered as the constant friction of the gold with the body will regulate the blood and pressure level of a woman.
In Northern parts of India, the holy thread is adorned in a form of a black and gold beaded necklace. The gold represents Goddess Parvati and the black beads which hold the gold symbolises Lord Shiva. As gold is a symbol of prosperity and well-being, a women wearing a mangalsutra is believed to bring happiness and prosperity to the family.
Furthermore, the black beads are believed to represent the many strands of emotions that goes into making up a husband and wife. The mangalsutra is also considered as a talisman to prevent the evil eye. Each black bead is believed to have divine powers; to absorb all the negative vibrations and protect the marriage of a couple, especially the life of the husband.
Hindu women do get superstitious when this sacred thread is lost, stolen or gets broken. In present time, the wearing of this holy thread has considerably reduced. Modernisation has caused many women to not wear it on a daily basis and for some; it is more of a fashion statement than a symbol of marriage. Regardless, this holy thread definitely symbolises the real meaning and concept of a Hindu marriage.