I got my nose pierced when I was 18 years old, before my engagement. In India especially in Tamil Nadu young women pierce their nose at a very early age. I received a diamond nose ring for my marriage from my amma by our traditional customs. I was wearing this diamond mookkutthi while I was on the manavarai (stage of the wedding). In Hindu weddings, it is the parents’s duty to give the daughter some gold jewellery as dowry. My amma not only gave me the mookkutthi but some other gold necklaces, bangles and anklets.
I guess Indian women pierce their nose because it creates an aesthetic appeal. It highlights the nose which is positioned in the central part of the face, and resolves a balance to the face structure.
Many say that only married women ought to wear a nose pin, nose ring because it is a symbol of “purity and marriage”. They only remove their nose rings and all other jewellery items when they become a widow.
Several ancient classical texts are silent on the nose stud and therefore there are several theories regarding the use of nose stud in Hindu religion. Some observe that nose stud was not used during ancient times and it was introduced by invaders during the 11th century.
It is also believed that metals such as gold, silver help the body’s immune system and certain piercings perform the role of acupressure and acupuncture to maintain blood flow and pressure. It is also believed that the piercing of the nose near a particular node on the nostril lessens the pain during monthly menstrual cycle. Some also believe that it protects women from nasal infection.
Nose stud is widely worn in South India, especially in Tamil Nadu and in parts ofKerala, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, by both married and unmarried young women. It is known as ‘mookkutthi.’ In some instances, women wear nose stud on both the wings of their nose. Nose studs of Konkani brides from Goa are famous especially for its design, which are adorned with small fish or bird. Nose ring is not the preferred choice in South India.
Nose ring and nose stud are a preferred choice in North India and in several communities it is a must during marriage ceremonies. A nose ring or pin or stud can be made of gold, pearl and diamond. In some Hindu communities, the nose stud is not removed and it is a symbol of married women like sindoor (dot on forhead) and thaali/mangal suthra and is an essential part of Shodash Shringar or Solah sringar – the sixteen beautification processes of a bride.
There is no consistency in the wearing of nose stud or ring. In some region, it is worn on the left wing of the nose and in some region it is on the right. For example, a bride from Maharashtra wears it on left. In Gujarat, it is worn on the right. The size and style of nose stud also varies from region to region. The big nose ring is only worn on the marriage day. Some communities opt for small nose rings. Nose stud or ring is used in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab.
There is also a kind of septum (the dividing part between two cavities) piercing, which is equally popular as nose piercing, in Nepal and in northern parts of India including Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh. This nose ring is known as ‘Bulak.’ Such piercing is also practised by in eastern India by some communities.
Nowadays, some Hindu women see nose stud as part of modern day trendy fashion jewellery. Some are also fighting against wearing of nose rings which act as an impediment in their daily activities. The western world has adopted the nose piercing as a style/fashion statement.