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Nupura – Anklet In Hinduism

Nupura is the anklet in Hinduism. The literal meaning of nupura is that which gives a pleasing sound. As an ornament, it is used in dance to evoke the sentiment of love (sringara rasa). In Rig Veda, the word khadi is frequently mentioned to denote either anklets or armlets. However in the Ramayana of Valmiki the word nupura is used.

Sanskrit poets of the classical age lavishly use the nupura and its jingling sound to suggest a situation of joy and exaltation. They give such names as padabharana, padangada, tula koti and hamsaka.

Purandaradasa, the saint poet of Karnataka, has described the divine beauty of Lord Krishna adorned with ornaments including nupura.

Depiction of nupura, apart from literature can be found in the devotional songs, painting and sculpture.

The best visual representation of the anklet can be found in the sculptures belonging to all styles and all periods, beginning from the 3rd century BC.

The anklet, in its earlier form, was just like a metallic ring, devoid of any sound, and gradually developed with more ornate, designs and exquisite workmanship. Mostly in silver, the anklet is very commonly worn by rural women, reflecting the continuity of a long tradition.

An episode in the Ramayana brings out one of the essential values of respect of the elder brother’s wife in Hindu culture. Sugriva, with whom Rama forms a compact of friendship, brings to Rama some jewels thrown by the air-borne Sita while she was being carried away to Lanka by Ravana. A distraught Rama turns to Lakshmana to identify whether they belong to Sita.

Lakshmana replies “I do not know the jewel worn on the hair, or the ear pendants, but I know the anklets because I used to prostate myself at her feet every day. (Kishkindha Kanda Chapter VI).

One of the Tamil classics, Silappadikaram (The lay of the anklet), brings out the value attached to womanly chastity and its power to even burn a whole city.

The Art of India, Traditions of Indian Sculpture, Paintings and Architecture (1954) S Kramrisch – published by Phaidon Press London
Nupura, the anklet in Indian literature (1982) by S. P. Tewari Published by Agam Kala Prakashan Delhi
Encyclopedia of Hinduism Volume VII page 515 - IHRF