Nose rings have had great symbolic meaning in Indian, Muslim and some African cultures. They are also gaining popularity in other areas of the world. For example, in the United States, nose piercing is usually seen as an act of rebellion against conservatism. Thus, a nose ring can have different symbolisms—it can be an expression of culture or traditions or sometimes a mere decoration to enhance one’s features.
In Hinduism, there are no strict restrictions to wearing the nose stud such as in the case of a Mangalsutra. So both married and unmarried women in India are seen wearing a nose stud. But the significance differs from region to region. Usually, a nose stud or ‘nath’ is worn by the bride on the wedding day according to Hindu customs.
There are many beliefs about nose rings that are prevalent in Indian culture. According to some, the custom of wearing nose rings started from the Middle East and then spread to India during the Mughal invasion in the 16th century. While there are also health benefits of wearing nose rings that are mentioned in the ancient Ayurveda text, Sushruta Samhita. Whatever be the origin, wearing nose rings have become an integral part of Indian culture. Let us have a look at why Indian women wear nose rings.
Nose piercing rings have been mentioned in some of the oldest manuscripts and Vedic Scripts, which date back to over 6000 years. In the western cultures, a nose piercing first appeared among the hippies who traveled to India in the early 1970’s. It was later adopted by the Punk movement of the early 1980’s as a form of rebellion against conservative values and beliefs. The Hippies who traveled to India, specifically to the western coastline of India, were very fascinated by this ritual in India.
Occultists believe that the nose is the ‘seat’ of the sixth sense, the focal point that emits brainwave, and is located just above the nose.
There are various health benefits according to Ayurveda practices. Piercing the nose near a particular node on the nostril helps in easing the menstrual pain in women. Hence, girls, as well as older women, wear nose rings. It is preferred that the left nostril is pierced since these particular nerves leading from the left nostril are associated with the female reproductive organs and helps in childbirth.
Wearing nose rings is also seen as a symbol of being married in many cultures India. So much so that the nose ring is removed at the death of a women’s husband. Also, girls in India get their nose pierced by the age of 16 and which is also seen as a way to honor Goddess Parvati.
According to popular Indian beliefs, the exhaled air of the wife affects the health of the husband and wearing the nose ring causes an obstruction which does not have any bad health effects. This is mostly a superstition which is popular in Eastern India. Apart from the beliefs and benefits, nose ring is now a very fashionable accessory too. It is available in so many different and beautiful designs, it just adds to the appearance of every woman.