Wearing of toe rings is practiced in India. Toe rings have been a part of the Indian culture since the Ramayana times, there has been a mention of Sita, when abducted by Ravana, threw her toe ring in the way, so that lord Rama could find her. So from the Ramayana times, till now, toe rings have been a part of a married woman’s jewelry box. In many different Indian cultures, the husband puts the toe rings on his wife’s second toe of both feet, during the wedding ceremony. It is worn as a symbol of the married state by Hindu women and is called bichiya (pronounced: bee-chee-ya) in Hindi, minji (മിഞ്ചി) in Malayalam jodavi (जोडवी) in Marathi, Mettelu (మెట్టెలు) in Telugu, Metti/Kanaiyazhi in Tamil (மெட்டி/கணையாழி), Kaalungura (ಕಾಲುಂಗುರಗಳು) in Kannada.
The toe rings in India are usually made of silver and worn in pairs (unlike the trend in Western countries, where they are worn singly or in unmatched pairs) on the second toe of both feet. Traditionally they are quite ornate, though more contemporary designs are now being developed to cater to the modern bride. Some ‘bichiya sets’ may have pairs for four of the five toes, excluding the little pinky. ‘Bichiyas’ may not be made of gold, as gold holds a ‘respected’ status and may not be worn below the waist by Hindus, but this is not followed very strictly and toe rings made of gold and diamonds are commonly seen. These rings would be put on the toes and never removed. The rings would show that the woman is married.
Toe rings have other associated benefits as indicated in Auyrveda. Toe rings have been indicated to be worn to regulate the menstrual cycle, and thus increase the chances of conception, as the slight pressure on the second toe ensures a healthy uterus. Some cultures also say that the pressure felt on the second toe helps ease the pain during intercourse. Unmarried Hindu girls however put toe rings on the third toe, to help ease with the menstrual pain.
Toe rings are also worn by men in Tamil culture, usually in a simpler design for comfort. The practice of Tamil men wearing toe rings/Metti was ideal because in ancient times people used to walk around barefoot and the toe ring was a way for women to identify married men as it was the norm for women to look down.
In the 19th century mirror rings (i.e. rings with a small used mirror placed on them) were sometimes worn on the great toe assumed to be for decorative purposes. Nowadays toe rings are available in rubber,non-precious metal and are used for decorative purposes. Traditionally a large ring was worn on the great toe of the left foot to indicate a married status. Some men frequently wore a ring on the big toe for curative purposes or to augment their masculine vigor. These rings were seldom closed circles but open hoops so that they could easily be removed.
Significance of Metti (toe ring) in Hinduism
Wearing of TOE RINGS is highly practiced in India. It is worn as a symbol of married state by Hindu women and is called Bichiya (pronounced: bee-chee-ya) in Hindi, Mettelu in Telugu, Metti in Tamil & Kalungura in Kannada. Toe rings (also known as bichwa) are a must for married Hindu woman. Tradition of wearing toe rings carries tremendous social significance for married women in India.Both Hindu’s and Muslim Women wear these Toe rings, as a symbol of Married state. They are usually made of silver and worn in pairs on the second toe of both feet.Why they use only Silver and Why Not gold? ‘Bichiyas’ may not be made of gold, as gold holds a ‘respected’ status and may not be worn below the waist. Indians especially Hindus believe that gold is the metal of the God Lakshmi Devi, The Goddess of Wealth, and therefore they consider it inappropriate to wear gold below the waist. In the olden days both married women and men wear toe rings and at that time girls were never allowed to walk with her head held up high, thus it is believed when she sees a man wearing a toe ring she will know that he is married and would not try and court him or make any advancements.