Shringar – The Art Of Dressing Up

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The word Shringar instantly conjures images of well adorned women, or ornaments worn by women. While that is true, it is only an aspect. More than just a visual appeal, shringar encapsulates feelings and emotions of love, a natural human response to an object of attraction, which brings with it enjoyment and pleasure. And an object of attraction here, may not necessarily be a human being.

Nature has been the source of inspiration and influence to mankind since time immemorial. All aspects of our lives, be it mood, emotions, attire or nutrition have been deeply affected by nature. Thus, there is shringar even in the glowing saffron sun, vast expanse of a blue mackerel sky, the shimmering silver waves, rustle of the leaves, the ray of sunshine wafting through the windowsill, lush fields of mustard, clusters of dew drops, blossoms in full bloom, peaks of snow clad mountains and the incandescent ivory full moon… In this article though, we will dwell on shringar as a concept of beauty for women.

A woman’s desire to dress, decorate, use ornaments and beauty-aids to enhance her appearance has been since antiquity. Ornamentation from head to toe, decorative apparels, application of floral and fragrant pastes, perfumes and garlands constituted roop shringar.

Bharatmuni, in his Natyashastra, has detailed the various kinds of garlands worn by women. They are of 5 kinds namely – veshtit or a closely entangled garland which fits on a specific body part; vitat which flows on one side; sandhatya made of various types of flowers; granthimat which consists of complicated knits at various places and avalambit that are garlands joined together.

Ornaments too have been classified into 4 kinds – avedya i.e. worn by piercing a part of the body; aropya or ornaments worn in the earlobe or nose; manimala referring to ornaments placed on the body such as a garland and lastly prekshapya which are worn and removed such as an anklet or toe ring.

Describing the beauty of a woman, a popular term emerged between the 11th to 15th century known as solah shringar, or 16 adornments. It was considered that solah shringar would enhance the beauty and charm of a woman. Valabhdev in his book Subhashitawali, refers to solar shringar in the following order: Manjan (toothpaste), Cheer vastra (attire), Haar (garland), Tilak, Netraranjan (kohl), Kundal (earrings), Nasamauktik (nose ring), Keshpash rachana (hairdo), Kanchuk (adornment of the bosom), Nupur (anklet), Sugandha angrag (fragrant pastes), Kankan (bangles), Charan rag mahavar (vermillion), Jhanakti mekhala, kardhani (girdle), Tambul (betel leaf) and Kar darpan (a small mirror in the hand).

Many literary works, descriptive imageries and poems have been conceived to depict the beauty of women. Such has been her beauty that her various limbs have sought comparison with various objects of nature. Kalidas in his poem Meghadootam describes the yakshini as a beautiful lady with dense black hair, eyes like that of a khanjan bird or a full blown lotus ‘neelotplakshi’, glance such as a bewildered doe ‘chakit harini’, her face like the reflection of the moon ‘chandra vimbanana’, eyebrows like the bow of Kamdev, teeth like the seeds of pomegranate, slim waist ‘kishodari’ and palms of her hands like the glow of new leaves ‘kislaya kantiyukta’.

A woman is an embodiment of maya (eternal force of attraction), and these shringars are the various tools through which attraction can be created at the level of basic chakras – Mooladhar, Swadishthan and Manipoorak. For attraction of the higher frequencies (Anahat and above), one may take to the practice of Sanatan Kriya and yogic sadhnas under guidance of a Guru.

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