#Opinion

BVLGARI Mangalsutra: A Luxury Married Women Didn’t Know They Needed

BVLGARI mangalsutra controversy
Who asked for BVLGARI mangalsutra? That’s the question that popped into my head when I read that the Italian luxury brand was set to launch a gold mangalsutra- its first-ever piece of jewellery that’ll be exclusive to India. A few days ago the brand’s global ambassador Priyanka Chopra graced the cover of a fashion magazine cover wearing the said ornament. Though one feels that only the likes of Chopra can afford and flaunt a branded mangalsutra.

Announcing her association with BVLGARI and the launch of their high-end mangalsutra, Chopra wrote in her Instagram post, “Discussing with @jc.babin, @lucia_silvestri and the @bulgari team almost 3 years ago and seeing it come to fruition is such a great feeling – it’s so elegant and chic, designed for the modern Indian woman who takes charge of her own life.”

Mangalsutra is an ornament that even divides the best of feminists, with one group labelling it as a vehicle of patriarchy, forcing women to wear their marital identity around their neck, while other invoking the virtue of choice that all women have the right to assert. Then there are women who believe that wearing a mangalsutra is an inseparable part of their identity. I, on the other hand, have found myself on all sides of the argument at different points in my life.

BVLGARI mangalsutra controversy

Image Credit: BVLGARI

While I do not wear a mangalsutra now, I have two in possession. One that was a wedding gift from my in-laws, as per tradition, another that was bought because I needed something more manageable to wear on a day-to-day basis, especially as a working woman. The first one is gathering dust in a nondescript locker somewhere, because I value my neck a lot, and don’t want to risk getting seriously injured in a chain-snatching incident. The second one also lies neglected in a drawer, because eventually I realised that I didn’t need an ornament to define my commitment towards my husband and he was also on the same page. Many women would disagree, but that’s the beauty of feminism, we all can have different opinions and co-exist.

However, the question here isn’t about whether or not a mangalsutra is relevant in 2021 to married Indian women, but what extra does BVLGARI mangalsutra offer to them, apart from the brand name? Priced rupees 3,49,000 rupees only, we  know this stuff is not for regular Indian women. You and I can’t afford it. Even if we could, where would we wear it? A woman would need two armed security guards just to protect her neck, if she dares to got to a mall, or sabzi mandi, or a book story wearing her BVLGARI mangalsutra.

And if the whole purpose of this exercise is to earn bragging rights at family gatherings or a soirée, then doesn’t it reduce mangalsutra, that most married women only wear because they consider it to be sacred, to a simple piece of jewellery? Is putting a brand’s logo on a mangalsutra taking away its true value? I guess these questions can best be answered by those will be able to afford this neckpiece. The rest of us can simply scroll past its picture and go and check sone ka bhaav in our daily newspaper instead.

Many have also pointed how BVLGARI has appropriated Indian culture, by taking an ethnic ornament revamping it to sell it for a higher price in desi market. BVLGARI also had the guts to tell Indians that its interpretation of this ornamet is “chic and elegant”. What is that supposed to mean? That the ornament’s Indian interpretations are not cool enough for modern Indian women? Did the brand take in to consideration how conflicted its customer pool (modern Indian wives) are about the very relevance of mangalsutra? If you too feel on similar lines, check out this article.

Views expressed are the author’s own.


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