Informant Description: My mom was telling me about some differences between Bengali weddings (my culture) versus other Indian cultures.
Interviewee: Bengalis have a bunch of silly traditions, just like any other culture. There are a bunch of games they make us play in the wedding that intend to bring the couple closer, but most of the time it’s just everyone trying to embarrass us a lot.
Me: What’s one thing that’s really different you’d say?
Interviewee: I feel like it’s pretty common across the board to have little games like that throughout the wedding. One thing that’s different for us is we don’t wear a mangalsutra like most other Indian cultures. That’s that necklace you see a lot of women wear; the black beads with a gold locket?
Me: Yeah I know what it is. What do we wear then?
Interviewee: Well, obviously we have a ring. But I actually think that’s a more western tradition that we’ve adopted, because some people don’t really wear rings at all even after they get married. All Bengalis wear this bangle, and it’s got to be fancy. It has to have a bunch of different metals in it. See like mine- it’s copper, silver, and iron. The top is gold.
Me: So you have to wear that every day for the rest of your life?
Interviewee: It’s the same as wearing a ring every day for the rest of your life.
Me: Why do you think we wear a bangle instead? What’s special about the bangle?
Interviewee: I don’t know if this is true, or if this is just the explanation I made up for myself, but I like to think of the bangle as the infusion of all these different metals, paralleling the joining of two different families in a marriage. The gold lock at the top keeps them together, symbolizing the beauty and strength of marriage. I mean… that’s just what I think.
Conclusion: I always wondered why my mom never took off that bangle; I always assumed it was religious. I had no idea my culture symbolizes weddings through a bangle rather than a ring.