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Nose Ring This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     Growing up in the United States as an Indian girl, the idea of wearing a nose ring captivated me. When I learned that this tradition came from India, I sought parental approval. To my surprise my mother asked me to talk to her once I had learned the underlying significance of this age-old custom. Surprised and a little disappointed, I nevertheless agreed.

I once believed that traditions are handed down through the generations and to question them was a sacrilege. This particular custom has existed in India for centuries: girls get their noses pierced primarily as they come of age or during their wedding ceremony. I took up the challenge to reach a decision. Unknowingly, my mother had started my quest for my personal Holy Grail.

I started looking for authentic sources that could help me understand the background of nose piercing. That summer while visiting India, I began my quest. My friend’s great-grandmother enlightened me about the shocking facts underlying this ubiquitous tradition. Her voice rang out with pride as she told me of a farmer who had acquired a new herd of cattle. He realized he could pierce their noses, slipping giant hoops through them so he could control and guide them. This practice was soon adopted by his village elders as part of the wedding ceremony: the nose piercing would symbolize a man’s control over his wife. Anyone meeting this wife after marriage would know that she had an owner: her husband. This venerable tradition showed that everyone knew a woman needed to be “guided and protected” by a man! The most common nose rings are golden hoops with intricate designs to hide the bitter reality of control.

I could not honestly perpetuate a tradition that demeans a woman’s status in society, branding her as the property of a man. Learning how the custom arose drastically altered my thinking about nose rings as fashion statements.

I had made my decision: I did not want my nose pierced. After all, the quest for the Holy Grail is about self transformation and personal liberation. I had found my Holy Grail in this issue. I am now of the unalterable view that one should look at traditions in the context of their genesis and not propagate them blindly. Those traditions that militate against human dignity or are discriminatory or unjust should be ended to ensure social equality.


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.





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This article has 9 comments. Post your own!

Moothi said...
Feb. 8, 2012 at 3:01 am:
Nose piercing has nothing to do with the ownership of females. Nose piercing basically streamlines the functioning of certain organs mainly related to reproduction. Hence this is done once someone attains puberty or just before the marriage. Ofcourse it certainly beautifies the appearance of female.
 
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FreedomIsMyVirtueThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Aug. 6, 2011 at 9:04 pm:
I don't think that men should always be in control. There should be equality among everyone. Great article!
 
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mscueange said...
Mar. 11, 2011 at 2:48 am:
I didn't know this about the nose ring but it's the same with the wedding ring. It started the same way. It showed the man's ownership of the woman also. It hasn't been that long that men started wearing them also. I hope women won't stop wearing them because of a outdated tradition.
 
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ilove2read124 said...
Jul. 31, 2010 at 7:48 pm:
yep,thats true, the whole symbolizing ownership deal, the Pakistanis stole that custom from the Indians, so we get our nose pierced around wedding time too, no one believes that anymore, so nose piercings are more fashion statements now, I'm still undecided about mine though haha.good writing though =]
 
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yy123 said...
Oct. 8, 2009 at 1:25 pm:
This is nothing but a legend. The original custom comes from the muslims, which took it from the Jews.
In The Bible, the servant of Abraham gives Rebecca a nose ring as a present from Isaac, so she will marry him. This was the first "wedding ring". He does that after he sees what a great personality she has, since she offered to give water not only to him but also to his camels.
It does not specify ownership in any way, and is one of the most beutiful jewelry a woman can wear/
 
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AmbbyLove said...
Oct. 1, 2009 at 9:38 pm:
Damn.Unfortunately..I didn't know about this..and mine is peirced...my best friend*below*informed me about this last sunday...
 
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eiggamsivad said...
Sept. 26, 2009 at 11:34 pm:
I was contemplating getting my nose done until I read this! Very well done!
 
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booksmart said...
Jul. 27, 2009 at 4:15 pm:
I read this article when it first came out and had to find it again now. I love this article and I want you to know that I will not be getting my nose pierced because of what it stands for.
 
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risi123 said...
Dec. 19, 2008 at 4:20 pm:
i read your article. i want to know more things please help me
 
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