Toe rings were such a huge fad in the mid 90s – especially for teenagers rocking their peace signs and studded floral toe rings. However the trend went downhill in the early 2000s with half of women wearing toe rings in secret and half the women swearing them off completely, wondering why they were ever seen with such an embarrassing piece of jewelry. But, earlier this year, an article on Huffington Post “officially” declared that toe rings are cool again!
So what am I doing talking about toe rings on my Indian fusion blog?
Take a wild guess.
Would you believe me if I said that toe rings can actually be traced back to the 5th century BC, to an ancient Indian text called the Ramayana? In the Ramayana, a demon king, Ravana, abducts the Hindu Goddess Sita, who throws her toe ring in the pathway so that her consort, Lord Rama, can recognize it and find the way to her! (And guys wonder why we get mad when they don’t remember what any of our stuff looks like – take notes!)
This illustration shows Goddess Sita throwing her toe ring onto the ground as the Demon King, Ravana, abducts her. (click to enlarge)
Ever since then, toe rings have been a symbol of married woman in India. In fact, in many Indian cultures, not only does the groom place a wedding ring on the bride’s finger, but he also places a toe ring on both of the bride’s second toes during a Hindu wedding ceremony. Apart from being a symbol of marriage, Indians believe that wearing toe rings benefit a women’s reproductive system. It is said that toe rings put pressure on the nerves that run from the second toe to the uterus and up to the heart. The pressure in return helps to keep the reproductive system balanced and regulates the menstrual cycle, benefiting the woman when conceiving a child. Because of this theory, most people in India still disapprove of unmarried women wearing toe rings, even in today’s age.
Groom places a toe ring on each of the bride’s second toes during a traditional Hindu wedding ceremony Photo Credit: Archana RJ Photography
Toe rings in India are most commonly made from silver and can be simple or decorative with stonework and color. You may see toe rings made of other metals as well, but rarely will you ever see one made of real gold. This is because gold is considered the metal of the gods and can be linked to Lakshmi (the goddess of wealth), so it is therefore disrespectful and inappropriate to touch gold with your feet*. More often than not, the rings are worn in matching pairs, with one on each second toe.
*This holds true to any item or symbol linked with God - read about OM here
Traditional Indian Toe Rings
So how did the toe ring even come to be such a fashion trend?
A woman by the name of Marjorie Borell noticed the unique idea of accessorizing your toes while on a trip to India. When she returned back home to New York, she decided to begin manufacturing and selling her own toe rings to local retailers and they eventually made their way to Bloomingdales and soon after caught on and spread all over the country. Though the origin and historical significance of the toe ring runs so deep, it has become a normal accessory for anyone to wear. It is also very common to see the newer generations of Indian woman outside of India wearing toe rings as a regular accessory, regardless of marital status.
Toe rings have been given a bad reputation thanks to the horrible choice and styling of them in the 90s. But now that you know the true amazing origin and cultural significance, I truly believe they deserve a second chance. Toe rings are a beautiful way to accessorize your feet when barefoot at the beach, or to make your feet look more glamorous even in a pair of boring flip-flops. They come in so many styles and varieties that they can be dressed up or dressed down for any occasion. Take a look at some of these amazing styles,they are irresistible.
(click to enlarge)