Return of the nose ring
Dipti Rai

Sania Mirza makes a style statement with her nose ring
Sania Mirza makes a style statement with her nose ring

In recent times Sania Mirza has brought back the traditional Indian nose ring to the limelight. A well-chiselled nose adds beauty to a womanís face. A tiny nose stud makes it more beautiful.

And the nose ring or stud is a new addition to bridal jewellery. In the olden era, before the maiden took the saat pheras, her nose was pierced and the auspicious nose ring worn by her then would be worn throughout her life. And in todayís fashionable world not many women opt to pierce their noses. But since they have to wear it on their wedding days, they prefer to use the press type of nose ring.

Nose piercing was first recorded in the Middle East approximately 4,000 years ago. It is mentioned in The Bible in Genesis 24:22. But ancient Indian art never depicted a female form with the nose ornaments. This custom of wearing nose ornaments was quite popular among the people of the Middle East. These jewellery items first made their appearance during the Mughal rule.

Thus, nose ornaments began to attract the Indian women and by the 17th century they gained popularity all over India. A stud (phul) or a ring (nath) is usually worn in the left nostril. It is sometimes joined to the ear by a chain, and in some places both nostrils are pierced. The left side is the most common to be pierced in India because that is the spot associated in ayurveda (Indian medicine) with the female reproductive organs. The piercing is supposed to make childbirth easier and less painfil.

In diverse states of India this jewel is made differently. The mukhuttis of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have ornate, traditional lotus and swan designs and are mostly studded with diamonds, or the poor manís diamond, the topaz. Rajasthani women wear the nathuri and the bhauriya. While the first is a small gold or silver ring with precious stones, the bhauriya has a slightly different design. The conventional clove-shaped nose stud is called the laung, while the small pendant suspended between the nostrils is the latkan, because of its pendulous character. In UP the nath is adorned with two pearls and a pendulous bead to augur prosperity. The Punjabi damsel has a gold ring strung with as many as 20 to 25 motifs. It is the shikarpuri nath. In Bihar the nose stud is the chhuchhi or the laung. In Maharashtra it is the guchhedar nath, which is known for its radiant beauty with pearl decorations. Pullakku nose ring in South India (bulaag in the North) is the pendant suspended from the partition of the nostrils.

The type of nose ring is determined by the area to be adorned. If it is the nostril, studs are common; if it is the septum, a circular barbell is worn; and if it is the bridge of the nose between the eyes, a straight barbell adorns the nose. Sometimes the septum rings in rural areas and tribal society are so large that they cover a portion of the mouth and often come in the way while eating. The nostril rings also vie for attention. Some of them are so heavily ornamented with pearls and precious stones that they have to be supported by fine chains, which are attached to the hair. The bulak in Madhya Pradesh is a perfect example of this.

It is believed that the nose ornaments have their own scientific advantages. By piercing the nose to wear these ornaments the women protect themselves from all nasal infections.

Nose piercing is becoming more socially acceptable, and many international celebrities have their noses piercedóMadonna, Lenny Kravitz, Sinead OíConnor and Slash from Guns & Roses.

The piercing usually takes approximately eight to 10 weeks to heal.Use lavender oil as it promotes healing and lubricates the wound, reducing tenderness. Apply a small amount with a cotton-wool bud after cleaning. Then move the jewellery so it gets into the wound. If you have a ring, rotate it gently. The jewellery must be hypo-allergenic, meaning that it should have no adverse affects on the body. So the only metals you should use are niobium, titanium, 18 ct white & yellow gold, platinum or palladium. Silver should never be worn in the nose during healing because it oxidises inside the wound and can cause allergic reactions, lumps and can leave a permanent black mark on your nose.

Many women want to get their noses pierced but feel they canít because of the reaction of their parents or employers. Trying to hide the rings by taking these in and out just leads to delayed healing and infections, and the fashion industry has developed a trick to help people get their noses pierced without letting anybody know. The piercing can be done with an invisible stud (a normal nose stud covered with flesh coloured nail polish). Once itís healed this can be changed at night for a normal stud.

The biggest cause of the stud coming out is drying the face with a towel. People rub their face dry and dislodge the stud. You must pat your nose dry as long as you are wearing a stud.óMF