Many Indian women wear rings on their toes. They are traditionally a symbol of marriage. In many communities, the bridegroom slips rings onto the toes of his bride during the wedding ceremony.
Traditionally, rings were worn on the second toe of each foot. According to Hindu custom, gold is a revered metal and should not be worn below the waist, so in olden days, toe-rings were made of silver and worn in pairs.
There was a scientific reason behind wearing toe-rings, especially silver ones. Silver is a good conductor of energy, and when women walked barefoot, their toe-rings would come into contact with the earth, absorb some of the earth’s energy and pass it into the women’s bodies, making them feel refreshed. Also, according to our ancient physicians, the slight constant pressure caused by the toe-rings is very good for health.
The earliest references to the practice of wearing toe-rings are found in ancient Sanskrit books. In some communities, men too were known to wear toe-rings in olden days.
Toe-rings are known by different names in different parts of the country. They are called bichiya in Hindi, metti in Tamil, minji in Malayalam, jodavi in Marathi, and so on.
In modern times, toe-rings are not worn strictly as a symbol of marriage. They have become a part of fashion, and many unmarried women wear them too. They are no longer made only of silver. Many women wear gold toe-rings. They are also available in metals like copper, as well as substances like plastic and rubber. As part of fashion, sometimes only one is worn, and sometimes four pairs are put on! They can be simple bands, spirals, or elaborate, gem-studded pieces. People in Western countries now wear them as fashion accessories too.