The tradition of wearing churi - beyond age, colour and race
Every Bengali festival, from Pohela Boishakh to Eid, Puja and even weddings in Bangladesh, is incomplete for women without Churi (Bengals). Even though Churi has become a modern-day ornament for the women of South Asian countries, the origin of Churi dates back to 2600 B.C. in the Indus Valley Civilisation connecting the Mohenjo Daro settlements, which is now in Pakistan.
Furthermore, the bangle is one of the initial accessories of human civilisation discovered in 1973 by a British archaeologist in a Mohenjo-Daro statue of a teenage girl. The statue was naked, with just one arm full of Churi.
Churis held a cultural significance back then, depicting the stages of womanhood. However, in the Indian subcontinent, wearing bangles became more common during the Mughal reign. It was then an essence of the Mughal aristocracy in the then Bengal.
Different types of bangles are available in the South Asian regions bearing cultural heritage. For instance, Indian and Bangladeshi brides traditionally wear gold Churi, which are expensive and not worn in everyday life.
Besides, there are bangles made of glass, platinum, silver, plastic, and even rubber. The price range and durability of the bangles depend on the material type.
All these bangles are available in our country's Puran Dhaka, New Market, Elephant Road, and Dhaka University area.
A special type of Churi is worn by Bengali women, partially made of gold. Apart from this, precious stones are also installed in the bangles, which increases their materialistic value. Churis, made of diamonds, gems, and pearls, are considered the most valuable.
However, in most Bengali weddings, brides are seen to wear gold bangles or stone-inscribed Churis, which are expensive. Hindu brides often wear two 'Shakhas' in both hands after marriage.
Ratna Dhar, a 52-year-old mother who is also a doctor in Chittagong, says, according to the Hindu culture, "Mahadev made Shakhas for Parvati cutting off the shells from a snail. Since then Hindu brides wear Shakha as a sign of their marriage."
She also said that she used to wear silver and glass bangles during her teenage years. However, now she wears Pola and gold bangles along with Shakha whenever going out.
On traditional or non-traditional occasions, women of South Asia wear Bangles or bracelets with almost all types of attires.
China Patowary, a 4th-year student of the Music Department at the University of Chittagong, said that she always wears two bangles on both her hands while going to classes or staying at home.
She also added, "While attending any functions I like to keep my hands full with Churi. I feel more beautiful with bangles covering both of my hands."
"I don't always wear Churi depending on my attire. I just increase or lower the number of Churis depending on the type of function I'm going to. But I never leave my hands empty; there's that."
Meanwhile, in most cases, women wear glass or traditional gold Churis while wearing any deshi outfit like Saree, Salwar Kameez, Kurti, etc.
However, girls like to wear bracelets of pearls and gems when wearing any western outfit for western functions.
Women from middle-class and upper-middle-class social backgrounds commonly wear Churi. On the other hand, women from upper-class society are often seen wearing diamond bracelets or other expensive gems or pearl bracelets.
Sabiha Sultana, a housemaker aged 35, shared with the writer, "I don't frequently wear Churi or bangles, I just pair up with a single bracelet and watch while attending a function or anything as such."
She also expressed with joy that her little daughter of 5 years, however, loves Churi so much that she takes her mum's old bangles and tries them on. Whenever they go out for anything traditional, her daughter insists on buying her Churi and loves wearing them.
Irrespective of age, and marital status, almost all women more or less love wearing Churi whenever they get even the tiniest opportunity or function.
Thus, Churi's traditional and cultural heritage is being passed on from generation to generation.
During Pohela Boishakh and other traditional festivals, women of all ages wear glass, plastic or other bangles. On the contrary, men nowadays also wear bracelets and Churis, breaking the stereotypes.
Churis are a symbol of cultural significance and can also be used as a token of love. Young lovers often gift Churis or bangles to their loved ones to express their love. In this way, Churis are deeply rooted in Bengali culture and emotions.