When you think of Indians – things that come to mind usually are red dots on foreheads, saris and spicy food. But one thing that is often unknown to most people is that Indians, in general, are very in tune with their sexuality. As a culture, complete and total devotion to the idea of love and sex is encompassed in entire scriptures – the most commonly known of which is the Kama Sutra.
What does this all have to do with nose piercings? Well, since Indians are generally in touch with their sexuality, they tend to study the “ins and outs” – so to speak – in great detail. They believe they’ve found a connection between the nose and sexual reflexes where depending on which side of the nose one exhales from, there is a direct correlation to the release of toxins along with carbon dioxide. (More on this later).
Other myths that Indians believe include one where women with small noses are said to have less sexual desire level and her indulgence in sexual pleasure is minimal. Again, tying into the release of toxins when one breathes out carbon dioxide, they believe that when a metallic object, particularly made of gold or silver, is worn on the nose – the poisonous emissions are minimized.
Enter nose rings and other nose jewelry commonly worn by women of the subcontinent. While not all women may wear nose adornments for the purposes described here and definitely not all modern women even believe in these theories, but the basic origin of such comes from the ancient beliefs outlined here. There are still pundits and other experts who cite these (and other) benefits of having permanent metal adornments on or around the nasal area.
In the present day, for the sake of culture and symbolism, many Indian women resort to wearing the nath (Indian term for the nose ring) on their wedding day. Some say it is to solidify sexual relations between the newly married husband and wife and others say it’s purely an act of tradition – mainly to symbolize the traditional Indian woman.
Typical ethnic styles are usually either a small stone stud, or more elaborate jewels, packaged amongst intricate, lacy patterns woven in gold or silver. Even more traditional are nath made with dangling pearls and other hanging elements – as well as being quite heavy at times, weighing as much as up to 10 grams! The signature bridal nath, however, is the large gold hoop with smaller pieces of filigree hanging from the hoop, often attached to the side of the bride’s head or behind the ear.
Coming back to exhalation of carbon dioxide – and how it is connected to sexual health and the well being of Indians, as legend
has it. Try this: take a deep breath. Hold your breath for a half-minute and then exhale slowly. Though it can come from both, air usually only comes out from one nostril at a time, so check to see which side the exhaled air is coming out from.
Indian legend has it that if the air being breathed out is coming from your left nostril then it’s a good time to engage in sexual activity. This is not from the standpoint of pleasure – rather it’s a measure of the best time to try for a child, which obviously is the main reason for having sex in the first place according to the way humans are wired. In the same way, if you feel air is coming out from both sides or even just the right side, then it is considered an ‘inauspicious’ time to engage in sexual relations.
Basically, it comes down to this. Mainstream Indians today wear nose jewelry because that’s just the way they’ve been doing it all along. Their mothers, grandmothers and ancestors – mostly all had some form of nose piercing or nose ring. Somewhere along the line, especially in the more modern, urban societies, the traditions dwindled – and the emphasis on aesthetics is much more so than the traditional aspects and so-called benefits of the jewelry.
Either way, Indian jewelry is very intricate and often designed in detailed and delicate patterns that are emulated and copied in costume jewelry around the world. And there’s no mistaking the signature Indian look that comes with those styles of nose jewelry – is a symbol of beauty.