It all started with the first pahunchi which was made & seen in Rajasthan back during the early 19th century. Since the residents of Uttarakhand had migrated from Rajasthan during the Mughal period, the ornament closely resembled Rajasthani bracelets. But as history suggested much later, the ornament is now known to be much older. Paintings & sculptures from the Shunga period in Bengal have been seen with arm bands & bracelets strikingly similar to the Pahunchi.
The Pahunchi is a lovely hand ornament which has caught much interest over the years for all the right reasons. Pronounced as ‘ponchhi’, this is a stunning traditional ornament worn frequently at Uttarakhand even today.
The ornament is a bracelet which is made with the use of 3 - 5 stands. Each strand is finely strung with real gold beads which are said to be filled with wax or lac. The beads have fine design work on them which is an actual work of art in itself. Interestingly some pieces have been seen with small square gold blocks studded with precious stones strung together instead of the round beads. The units tied to each other by exquisite zaris gives the pahunchi a very elaborate and a royal look.
This bracelet is a marriage ornament & it accentuates the beauty of the bride once she wears it. The bracelet is adjustable & is occasionally cushioned with red fabric on its inner side (where it contacts the wrist) in order to provide comfort to the wearer. The red fabric is used as the colour signifies matrimony, trust & purity.
Pahunchi are made of gold as well as silver. But it is a little known fact that the metal & the size of the beads in the Pahunchi indicated the monetary status of the woman wearing it. The Pahunchi is a thus a classic work of art from Uttarakhand - a land known for its lovely traditions & rituals.