Solah Shringar: The Sixteen Bridal Adornments

The precise translation of Solah Shringar is sixteen adornments (or makeup), which corresponded to moon phases. It is essentially a beautification process that Indian brides go through ahead of their wedding, and few cultures put on a more elaborate show than the Indians do. Their traditional weddings are fascinating and no stone is left unturned when it comes to luxury, aesthetics and celebrations.

Although the Solah Shringar ritual is an ancient Indian tradition, it is one that women from all over the world can gladly borrow from. Solah Shringar is a celebration of female beauty and divinity. Who doesn’t love to feel beautiful? And do we really need to wait for a wedding for it to happen?

Solah Shringar is something that also happens at festivals and major events. Fashion loves to borrow ideas from the world’s diverse cultures, so don’t worry if you’re not likely to be an Indian bride… Solah Shringar might just have something to offer you anyway.

Solah Shringar equals head to toe beautification

If you’re anything like us, you’ll have been completely wowed at sight of Indian brides before now. They are literally dripping with jewelry, sequins, silks, an array of colors, and of course our beloved henna. Ornamental is the key word, and it’s doubtful that a woman would ever have been more decorated!

The sixteen steps are loosely defined, and technically there are actually 17 steps; the Pre-Shringar (Divine Bath) happens before anything else. The bride receives fragrant hair oil from her appointed beauticians, and a hair wash with Indian herbs. She also gets a body scrub with natural ingredients, while she is relaxed with music and singing.

Step 1: Keshapasharachana and Gajra

This part relates to the hair. Post-bath, it is dried and styled, and woven with pretty jewelry. The hair must always be pinned up somehow, as religion forbids flowing locks on the wedding day. Gajra refers to the strings of flowers worn around hair buns. 

Step 2: Mang-Tikka and Mandoria

This step also relates to the hair. Precious stones, gold and silver are braided into the center parting, all the way to the forehead. Alternatively, the bride might have a chain around her hairline, or a string of pearls across her forehead (Mandoria). 

Step 3: Sindoor

Sindoor means vermillion; better known to us as an orange/red pigment. Like Mang-tikka, this is applied to the center parting. This step relates specifically to weddings, as it is frowned upon to do it before marriage. It is often applied by the groom at the wedding, and can be compared to a wedding ring in terms of symbolism. 

Step 4: Bindi

The bindi is something you’re bound to be familiar with by now. Bindis look so pretty and go well with outfits from any culture. No Indian wedding would be complete without a beautiful bindi; it actually signifies dedication to the marriage in Indian tradition , as does the red dot of powder worn by some women. 

Step 5: Eyeliner

Kajal eyeliner is another thing you’re likely to have come across by now in American culture. Once upon a time it was made from soot, but we now have it in handy pencils for those killer stares on nights out.

Step 6: Nose ring

Nath is simply a nose ring, and these are a familiar sight in Indian culture. They are also popular in lots of other cultures; piercings go hand in hand with tattoos here in the US. 

 The Indians take it a little more seriously though, with nose rings made of pearl clusters and gemstones – even diamonds, and sometimes a chain to the ear. After the wedding the bride often keeps it in, so it is now another symbol of marriage.

Step 7: Earrings

 Earrings need no introduction! Indian wedding earrings are often connected to a chain that goes around the head. They tend to be incredibly opulent and encrusted with stones.

Step 8: Necklaces

 Again, no intro needed. Suffice to say that Indian wedding necklaces (haar) are worn in abundance. One is never enough! Chokers, pearls, gold and beads are all worn with garlands of flowers.

Step 9: Armbands

Like the necklaces, armbands (baaju-bands) made from gold, silver, pearls and diamonds are commonly worn. Not a cheap look to emulate – you may need to stick with rhinestones! 

Step 10: Bracelets

 Yet another marriage symbol, bracelets and bangles are considered to be a special part of Solah Shringar. They are ornate and made from all kinds of metals and stones.

Step 11: Henna Mehndi body art

We’re guessing this is the one you’ve been waiting for! Henna is an important part of Solah Shringar. No bride would be seen without beautiful Mehndidesigns on her wedding day. Henna represents love, and the bride will wear it on several parts of her body. Many brides have Mehndi parties before the wedding, a cultural specialty that they adore.

Step 12 and 13: Rings

There will be 8 rings on the bride’s hands, all connected by chains to a flower on the top part of the hand. Some will also be connected to a bracelet. Step 13 is a thumb ring called aarsi, containing a mirror in which the bride may reflect her beauty. 

Step 14: Anklets

Anklets were made famous by Indian culture, and they really are beautiful. An Indian bride’s will be made of silver, worn on both ankles, with tiny jingling bells. 

Step 15: Toe rings

Toe rings are another opportunity for jingling bells. Toe rings (bichuas) are worn on the second toe on the left foot only; they won’t be removed until the eventual death of the groom. 

Step 16: Mahur

The last stage of Solah Shringar is another red plant-based ink; a foot decoration consisting of a red line on the outside of the foot 

So now you can see just how much effort goes into an Indian wedding… it’s really quite something. We can’t help you with the exotic jewelry, but there is one part of this process that we do very well. Quality natural henna , ready-made for your very own adornment – something that will look stunning no matter how many beautifying steps you take.