The Keralite’s love for gold can be traced back to very ancient days itself. Even from those days each community or caste had its own traditional designs of ornaments which were made specially by the family goldsmith. But the modern days see an entirely different trend. The boom in the fashion industry has brought all these – the traditional designs and the modern patterns under one roof, the jewellery shops.
Irrespective of religion or caste, most women in Kerala wear gold ornaments and it forms an inevitable part of most religious and social occasions like marriages. The main ritual in the Kerala wedding ceremony is the thaalikettu, the tying of the sacred nuptial thread on which is stringed the ‘thaali’ – a tiny leaf shaped gold plate, which marks the sacred bond of marriage. The Christians have a little cross engraved on the ‘thaali’.
The most outstanding piece of the Christian women’s jewellery collection used to be the enormous ring worn on the upper ear lobe. Muslim women also have their distinctive ear rings, necklaces and elaborately designed articles for the waist (Odyanam).
Gold ornaments are made in almost all parts of the state. Thrissur in central Kerala has always been a shopping paradise for traditional gold jewellery. The jewel street in Thrissur is famous for having the maximum number of jewellery shops on a single lane.
The popular traditional ornaments are Payyannur Pavithra Mothiram (ring), gold necklaces likeManonmani, Ilakkathali, Poothali, Palaykkamala, Mangamala, Dalamini, Chuttiyum Chelum andPuliyamothiram. Ear studs like Jimikki, Kannuneerthulli, Thoda etc; Bangles like Kappu, stones, pearl and enamel painted bracelets etc.
The ornament worn around the waist inside the dress is called Aranjanam which is usually a thin chain but those worn by the Muslim women like a ‘belt’ over their dress are calledOdyanam. These Odyanams are usually broad and have intricate designs.