Nose stud or ring is worn by both married and unmarried Hindu women. The significance of the nose stud varies from region to region. As in several other rituals, there is no written code in Hinduism regarding the wearing of nose ring or nose piercing. In certain Hindu sects, a nose ring is referred as ‘Nath’ is worn during marriage and is a symbol of married woman. There are several communities in Hindu religion which does not perform nose piercing.
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.
Another school of thought quotes ancient Ayurvedic text Sushruta Samhita (Chikitsa Sthana Chapter 19) to suggest that nose piercing was prevalent from ancient period. It is 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. (If the piercing is related to health, then why don’t men too do it?)
Nose stud is widely worn in South India, especially in Tamil Nadu and in parts of 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 and mangal sutra 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 practiced by in eastern India by some communities.
Nowadays, some Hindu women see nose stud as part of modern day trendy fashion jewelry. Some are also fighting against wearing of nose rings which act as an impediment in their daily activities.