Payal – A beautiful piece of Jewelry from India

Indian civilization is thousands of years old and one unique feature about Indian civilization is that art and culture are so intervened with the day to day life that it is difficult to separate them. In India be it the holy temples or the day to day clothes and jewelry everything, is a shining example of art in day to day life. In this post I want to talk about the very special piece of jewelry worn by Indian women.

A baby girl with her payals
A baby girl with her payals

From the ancient verses to the stone temples, to the miniature paintings wherever the artist has depicted the Nayika or heroine, they talk about the various ornaments the Nayika wears from head to toe. Be it the stone sculptures of Khajuraho, caves of Ajanta & Ellora, or the temple dancers of south India, every Nayika is adorned with jewelry and payals are an integral part of the traditional ornaments. The best part is that in most of the cases you will not be able to see the payals as they will be hidden from the eyes below the dress but you can hear the sound when the Nayika moves.

Some time even little boys wear payals
Some time even little boys wear payals

The Payal or Pajeb or anklets have been worn from time immemorial and are shown in the sculptures of ancient temples like the sacred center of Hampi. It is an integral part of every Indian girl’s jewelry box, and is typically the first piece of jewelry that the family gifts to new born girls to be worn in the feet even before she is able to walk. Indeed the melodious sound coming from the beats of payals mixed with giggling of the Luxmi of the family (Luxmi = goddess of wealth and prosperity-as a daughter is called) makes parents beam with pride and joy.

Can you  notice the Payals on the feet of goddess?
Can you notice the Payals on the feet of goddess?

The ancient traditional designs are pretty heavy and come in form of anklets with small bells to make a melodious sound, now only worn by classical dancers during dance performances. An accomplished dancer will tap her feet adorned with Ghungroos (a kind of heavy metal anklet with bells), to give company to the musicians.

But today with changing trends most of the girls do not wear heavy jewelry and like to wear very light payals, sometime just a strand of black thread with a few colorful beads thrown in to break the monotony of the black. Such payals are not just fashion statement they also are believed to ward off evil eye. These thin payals are very popular with the younger generation as they can be fashionable without wearing heavy ornaments and go well with both Indian as well as western dresses.

Modern Payals
Modern Payals

In rural and tribal India women still wear heavy payals made of silver or an alloy of silver. Some of them are tied with help of a hook and will have small intricately carved designs depicting traditional designs with small bells. Other will wear it just as a round metallic ring worn on the ankles with minimum designs.

You can buy Payals or anklets in many designs and materials like pearls, silver, embellished with semi precious stones. What is interesting to note is that in some parts of India gold is not used for making anklets as it is considered to be a noble metal not to be worn in feet. Irrespective of the material the basic purpose of the payal is to make the feet look good, and indeed if you look at these pictures they serve their purpose very well.

So my dear reader next time you are visiting India and want to do some jewelry shopping you must look at anklets or payals. Though they are available all over India and online some of the hotspots for doing jewelry shopping are the Old city of Delhi, and Jaipur where the sheer quantity and variety of designs is mind boggling. The price of a Payal depending on the material and design will start from a couple of dollars to thousands of dollars depending on the metal and stones used in making them.

Payals for sale
Payals for sale

Happy Shopping

About the Author: Prasad Np also known as desi Traveler is a corporate executive most of the week, but he wears many hats. He is blogger, photographer, traveler and a potential investor in start-ups with unique concepts especially if they are in travel related business.

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46 thoughts on “Payal – A beautiful piece of Jewelry from India

  • September 16, 2013 at 12:16 pm
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    Hi Prasad,
    I was not aware of the meaning of Payal.
    This type of jewelery for the ankle is very fascinating.

    Thanks for sharing your insights. Really interesting!
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    Reply
  • September 16, 2013 at 12:52 pm
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    HI Prasad, and welcome to Shalu’s blog :)

    Oh yes…the payal is a beautiful piece of jewellery that most Indian women wear, or perhaps the married lots more than the unmarried. However, with the latest fashion trends, nowadays even the unmarried lots are wearing the anklets and single payals as a fashionable accessory.

    Not to mention that it’s considered auspicious to gift silver or gold payals to a newborn child or a newly wed bride, thus showing how important it is for the Indian culture.

    Thanks for sharing. Have a nice week, both of you :)
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    Reply
    • September 16, 2013 at 2:25 pm
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      Thanks Harleena… you have captured the liking of Payal by Indian girls very well in your comment. Great weekend to you also.
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      Reply
  • September 16, 2013 at 10:22 pm
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    Hi Prasad,

    What a wonderful post and topic for Shalu’s blog. I’ve always loved jewelry but the older I get the less I wear. Of course living here in the United States we really don’t have any type of traditions when it comes to wearing jewelry. Not unless you get married and wear the wedding ring but it’s still a choice. Some people just don’t like to wear jewelry.

    Here in the states we just call those ankle bracelets and I have a few myself. They are very thin though and not cumbersome at all but still very pretty and dainty. I love them.

    Thank you for sharing this with us and I enjoyed learning about the culture. I find it so fascinating.

    ~Adrienne
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    Reply
  • September 17, 2013 at 5:38 am
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    Hi Prasad,

    Really great insights about Payal, Being an Indian I wasn’t aware of such interesting facts about Payal and I’m sure lot of Indians won’t know about it.

    Reply
    • September 17, 2013 at 2:18 pm
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      Thanks Ahana, glad my post was of some use to you. We have so many variations in the design that its is mind boggling..
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      Reply
  • September 17, 2013 at 6:12 am
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    Hi Prasad, it’s indeed a wonderful piece of information. Those who are totally unaware about the jewelry are also able to understand about it.

    Reply
  • September 17, 2013 at 8:17 am
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    I also love wearing payal . I have 2 pairs of payal with me which i wear wile going out . I love there voice very much :)

    Reply
    • September 17, 2013 at 2:21 pm
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      Great to know that Jones, you must be a proud owner of Payals with bells that make the sound. They are the best.
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      Reply
  • September 17, 2013 at 9:20 am
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    Hi Prasad & Shalu,

    Wonderful topic for a post…made me nostalgic. I used to emotionally blackmail my mom into getting me a pair. Though, I don’t remember anyone telling me unmarried girls can’t wear payals. That piece of information is news to me. But still good information, actually any information on jewelry is good info:-).

    Priyanka
    Twitter:

    Reply
    • September 17, 2013 at 2:23 pm
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      Thanks Priyanka.. actually there is no taboo on unmarried girls to wear Payals. I actually mention in post that it is the first jewelry parents give to little girls.
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      Reply
      • September 18, 2013 at 3:58 am
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        Hi again!

        Yes, I noticed but I think it’s mentioned somewhere in comment section. And it’s difficult to be sure of things in India, considering lots of things change in once one get out of their city/state:-).

        Priyanka
        Twitter:

        Reply
  • September 17, 2013 at 7:16 pm
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    Indeed are beautiful, when I see such I always think to India. Is their customs and I guess a tradition.

    See you next time Shalu!
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    • September 18, 2013 at 7:36 pm
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      Thanks Daniel..yes Indian culture and traditions are one of the most beautiful, and this is also reflected in what people wear be it clothes or jewelry…
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      Reply
  • September 18, 2013 at 12:55 pm
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    Hello, Prasad…. good to see you here at Shalu’s Blog. You selected a really a beautiful topic same as ‘Payal’ . Absolutely Payal increases the beauty of women in a unique way. :) :)

    Reply
  • September 18, 2013 at 3:55 pm
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    Hi Shalu,
    Yes I’m totally agree with you ! Payal is really beautiful & hear touching Jewelry of not only for Indina women but also British women ! I see Payal has great value in Indian culture for very long time but with the time Payal has got lot of popularity! I well remember my used to love her Payal & I also used to take her Payal from her legs while she got sleep on bed & now the Payal has little different culture that lot of girls likes to carry on one Payal in their one leg & it has become a latest fashion style too… :)

    Reply
  • September 19, 2013 at 4:19 am
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    Hi Prasad !
    Welcome to shalu’s blog and thanks for sharing this well researched information with us. I love reading articles on ancient history , and this is the first occasion i’ve read the history of payal .

    -Pramod
    Twitter:

    Reply
  • September 19, 2013 at 8:34 am
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    Yes Shalu you’re absolutely right Payal is really such a beautiful Jewelry of Indian women ! I do see there is Payal in goddess feet, how it sweet it this :)

    Reply
  • September 20, 2013 at 2:53 am
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    I second this thought of yours Shalu. Payal indeed looks so incredible and charming. I used to wear payals when I was 6 years of age, and post that I never wore it. This post truly speaks the glory of the most charming piece of Indian jewelry. Thanks for the share.

    Reply
  • September 21, 2013 at 8:45 am
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    very nice post about payal. you are really see Indian so closely so u are describe it very well.

    Reply
  • September 24, 2013 at 11:35 am
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    Anklets are one of my favorite pieces of jewelry. Love the designs and love the sound they make while walking. I am very fond of wearing this accessory since childhood. Thanks for sharing this wonderful post.

    Reply
  • September 25, 2013 at 7:58 am
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    Anklets designs, Anklets style, Anklets sound every thing is excellent.

    Reply
  • September 26, 2013 at 6:44 am
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    Very traditional jeweleries….I like it.Your blog is really nice and interesting, You have maintain it so beautifully that I truly like & enjoy it

    Reply
  • September 26, 2013 at 12:23 pm
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    Nice topic to choose. Payal is that thing which improves leg’s beauty. Payal is awesome Jewelry and the good thing about Payal is that it is cheaper and attractive. Love it’s sound. :)
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    Reply
  • September 27, 2013 at 7:36 am
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    Hello..Nice topic to choose. Payal is that thing which improves leg’s beauty. Payal is awesome Jewelry and the good thing about Payal is that it is cheaper and attractive. Love it’s sound.

    Reply
  • September 30, 2013 at 5:55 pm
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    My spouse and I stumbled over here from a different page and thought I might as well check things out. I like what I see so now i am following you. Look forward to looking at your web page yet again.

    Reply
  • October 1, 2013 at 8:12 pm
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    I have never been to India and would love to travel there one day. The colours are always so bright and the women so beutiful! It looks like a fascinating country to visit. Great blog!
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    Reply
  • October 15, 2013 at 11:26 am
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    Hi dear..
    Payal is an inseparable part of traditional jewellery of India. Foreigners are always influenced by Indian jewellery designs. Anklet is one among them. Anklets look very beautiful and the sound that anklets make is lovely. Indian jewellery has it’s own position in the world and it’s really very impressive.

    Reply
  • October 22, 2013 at 6:16 am
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    Payal..traditional Indian jewelry, and now also a popular name for girls. As a piece of jewelry, payal, along with other bridal decorations were also considered an investment wealth that was made in a woman.

    Prasad, Your post remind me Payals song from bollywood movie Virasaat.

    Thanks
    –Chetan
    Twitter:

    Reply
  • November 5, 2013 at 5:47 am
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    Nice Post with lot of information. Absolutely Payal increases the beauty of women in a unique way. THANK YOU for your nice post .

    Reply
  • November 13, 2013 at 11:46 am
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    Very Interesting Article. Keep posting more articles. The photography is also nice. Like it. Thanks for posting.

    Reply
  • December 2, 2013 at 11:34 am
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    I had been to India last month. It’s a country of so much diversity. I enjoyed travelling in India. I came across many artificial jewelry hawkers, I’ve bought some jewelry from there and I think it looks lovely. Had an experience of varieties of traditions over there.

    Reply
  • December 12, 2013 at 5:52 am
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    Oh! anklets are called payal in India, that sounds great. If I ever be to India I’ll surely get a pair for me. Thanks for the info buddy! Cheers!

    Reply
  • December 30, 2013 at 7:56 am
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    India is really a wide place of customs,cultures and traditions every occasion have there specific jewelry and meaning if i am not wrong

    Reply
  • March 12, 2014 at 7:47 am
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    Hello,
    This article is really a nice…. It gives nice information about the payal…. So many unique designs available here… I thankful to the admin of this article…
    Regards Chhaya

    Reply
  • November 24, 2014 at 5:49 am
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    Thanks for sharing the details of beautiful “payals”,As the fashion changes single anklets are also getting good exposure.Thanks for sharing details of lovable traditions

    Reply
  • December 18, 2014 at 1:10 pm
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    Shalu,

    You are exactly right!

    Anklet or Payal is a fashion accessory that perhaps all the women would like!

    PS: Your title attracted me to read your article ‘PAYAL’ :)

    Reply
  • December 9, 2015 at 10:14 am
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    Yes, Payal is one of the most beautiful piece of jewellery in India. Most of girls or womens loves to wear payal. It also comes in many variety designs that creates an amazing attraction.

    Reply

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