Bangles are my favorite accessory. Most people who know me know this very well. Rarely do I ever NOT have something dangling/cuffing/twining/sparkling on my wrist. Bangladesh is the home of bangles and I love them. The following is a feature I wrote for the Lifestyle section of this week’s Daily Star. Click here to read or see below, or of course, buy the paper today.
Alam sits with his basket of glass bangles everyday in front of TSC, the prime location to target students who often stop their busy schedules just to look at his colourful collection.
“Of all the bangles I sell, the glass ones are the most popular, especially around this season,” he said, as he unwrapped a dozen red bangles that dazzled in the sun, reflecting the light.
Glass bangles can be seen everywhere these days, especially as we prepare for Pahela Baishakh. Men and women sellers alike line different parts of the street around Dhaka University where their collection of multicolored bangles do all the talking to attract customers.
There is something about glass bangles that never gets tiring. While metal bangles and plastic spray painted ones in various colours and ornamentation seemed to have taken over store fronts, simple glass bangles have never really lost the competition.
“I think it’s the noise that keeps making me come back and buy more and more. They are traditional and classy, so never out of style, which I love. Every time they break, it just means I get to buy more!” said Nishat, a second year student at Dhaka University.
Indeed the sound of glass bangles as they glide against each other on your wrists puts us in a celebratory mood. “My mother bought them when she was a student, and now I am doing the same. We sometimes come here and buy glass bangles together and walk down memory lane,” said Tasnia, also of DU who plans to only accessorise with glass bangles this year for Pahela Baishakh. While glass bangles also come coated in metallic specks and glitter for design, she still prefers the simple, one-tone bangles that her mother used to wear.
While red and white continue to be the most popular colour for glass bangles around Pahela Baishakh, the blue, green, and pink tones are catching up. This season, many sellers agree that women are opting more and more for mixing two to three bright, bold colours for their wrists. “Girls love to come and try on as many colours as they can, and the biggest problem that they have is usually which ones not to buy, along with bargaining with me of course, said one elderly woman who has been selling in the Dhaka University area for years.
Nowadays, she sells bangles in all sizes, as glass bangles are catching up with small children as well. “You can’t go wrong with glass bangles, which makes them popular among boys too, who buy them as gifts,” she added as she unwrapped the white paper off of a bright purple set designed with indentations.
It is perhaps the slightly translucent finishing of the bangles that makes them more special, with their light paint coating and smooth texture. Glass bangles also hold a strong tradition in South Asia, as well as various meanings; it is often thought that because glass bangles match the colours in nature, they can express the natural energy of wearers and even bring luck.
Folklores of this region often include glass bangles. And of course, in this season of festivities, glass bangles continue to be a fashion staple for women of all ages. If you haven’t bought them yet, don’t worry: expect to find lots of glass bangle stalls with a rainbow of selection this Pahela Baishakh around the city.
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed
Makeup and styling: Farzana Shakil
Wardrobe: Farzana Shakil
Location: Coffee World, Road 27, Dhanmondi