Traditional Indian Bridal Chura And Kalire | Significance
Kalira also known as Kaleera or Kalire is a silver or gold embellished, umbrella shaped ornament that is attached to the bride’s choora. A choora or chura is a set of bangles traditionally worn by a bride on her wedding day and for a period after, especially in Punjabi weddings. They are traditionally considered to be an important and auspicious shringar (makeup) of a newly married bride. The custom is also observed in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. Nowadays, wedding Chura has become a style symbol with brides of other communities too opting to wear it as a part of their bridal look.
The traditional kalira was made out of shells, flowers and strings of beads, which were tied around the chura on each arm by the bride’s sisters, cousins, or sister in law. The Kalira is a symbol of good luck and prosperity bestowed on the bride by her family and friends before she enters marital bliss. Chura is known to bring good luck for the newlyweds and believed to strengthen the bond between a couple.
The chura is usually red and white; sometimes the red bangles are replaced with another colour, but they are usually only two colours. They are traditionally made of ivory, with inlay work, though now made with plastic. Traditionally there are 21 bangles, although more recently the bride often wears 7, 9 or 11 bangles. The bangles range in size according to the circumference of the top of the forearm and the wrist end so that the set fits neatly.
The chura ceremony is held on the morning of the wedding or the day before. The bride's maternal uncle and aunt give her a set of chooriyan. The bride is not allowed to look at her wedding Chura at all, till the time she enters the wedding venue and meets the groom. A Puja is held known as the Chura ceremony, wherein the wedding Chura sets are purified with milk and rose water (or petals). The bride’s head is then covered with a red dupatta and her eyes closed, while the maternal uncle and his wife make the bride wear wedding Chura sets on both the hands to complete the ceremony.
Kalire are then tied around the chura on each arm by the bride’s sisters, cousins, or sister in law. Then bride is supposed to shake the kalire on every unmarried girl’s head. If the kalira falls on someone’s head, then that girl is supposedly the next one to get married, or so it is believed as per Punjabi tradition. This could be considered equivalent to the Christian tradition where the bride throws the bouquet after her marriage, and whoever catches it in the crowd is the next girl to be married, or is considered lucky enough to get married!
Traditionally, the bride would wear a chura for a full year, although if a newly wed bride became pregnant before her first anniversary, the choora was taken off. On an auspicious Punjabi holiday, usually sankranti, after the first anniversary her in-laws would hold a small intimate ceremony in which the choora was removed and glass chooriyan (bangles) were placed on both hands. This usually was accompanied with mithai (Indian sweets) and a monetary shagun. The chura then was taken to a river and a prayer was said and it was left to float onto the water. It is now normal for the bride to wear her chura for a month and a quarter (40 days).