In this poem Sarojini Naidu has led importance of bangles in our Indian culture. It is noteworthy to find that the color of bangles which women and girls wear keep on changing with the advancement of age. A girl who is not married may have different choices of colors. Mrs. Naidu has beautifully written this poetry and it is very subjective in nature.
About the poetess– Sarojini Naidu has been called as nightingale of India because of her lyricism. She was born on 13 February 1879 at Hyderabad and that period was very orthodox. The society was patriarchal and women were not treated equally like men. Women and girls were not educated much and their future was invested in their marriage. Even in that period Sarojini Naidu got her early education from Chennai and went to London for higher studies. Since her childhood she was passionate about writing. She wrote a play in her childhood and it was read by her father. Eventually the play was read by Nizam Mahboob Ali khan who admired it and sent her to London from his own fund. Nizam was a powerful man who liked the creativity of Mrs Naidu. Along with writing poetry Sarojini Naidu also participated in India’s national freedom movement. She also became one of the greatest admirer and follower of Mahatma Gandhi. She was also elected as the president of Indian national Congress and Governor of the United Provinces which is now Uttar Pradesh. Thus, she was the first governor of Indian state and first female president of Indian National Congress. Her real name was Sarojini Chattopadhyay but after marriage she was known as Sarojini Naidu. She was married at the age of nineteen. It is interesting to note that her husband belonged to a lower class where as she was from the higher class. Inter caste marriage was a matter of debate during that period. Still she was supported by her family.
About the poem– The first few lines of the poem are as follows-( First Stanza)
“Bangle sellers are we who bear
Our shining loads to the temple fair…
Who will buy these delicate, bright
Rainbow-tinted circles of light?
Lustrous tokens of radiant lives,
For happy daughters and happy wives.”
The above lines mean that Bangle sellers have come to the temple fair to sell their lustrous and attractive bangles. These bangles are colorful and shining so much that they have been called as lustrous. These bangles have also been compared with rainbow because of their power to scatter light and colors. This is one of the reasons that they are circles of light because they are round and colorful. It is also a token of radiant life. It means that women and girls who are happy in their lives used to decorate themselves with beautiful bangles and vanity box. Thus, it is a token of happiness. A girl or a woman who is devoid of happiness hardly cares for her looks. In the next few lines the poetess says that-
“Some are meet for a maiden’s
Silver and blue as the mountain mist,
Some are flushed like the buds that dream
On the tranquil brow of a woodland stream,
Some are aglow with the bloom that cleaves
To the limpid glory of newborn leaves.”
In the second stanza the poetess says that unmarried girls prefer different colors like silver and blue. These colors are like mountain mist because they sparkle with tenderness. These colors symbolically stand for youthfulness. Some bangles are so colorful that young girls are attracted towards them. Young girls are like buds full of youthfulness. Their life is full of dreams and those dreams are colorful. Thus, in this stanza the poetess talks about the choices of bangles which girls and women prefer to wear according to their ages. In the next stanza the poetess says that-
“Some are like fields of sunlit
Meet for a bride on her bridal morn,
Some, like the flame of her marriage fire,
Or, rich with the hue of her heart’s desire,
Tinkling, luminous, tender, and clear,
Like her bridal laughter and bridal tear. “
In this stanza the poetess talk’s abbot newly married women. She says that some bangles are like corn field which sparkle at the first ray of sun. Similarly the young girls sparkle after their marriage. Thus, the yellow bangles stand for the first morning of the new bride. First morning also mean that the new life has begun. Some bangles lit the desire of a newly wedded girl. The flame of marriage fire symbolizes reddish color which stands for passion. The words tinkling, luminous tender and clear symbolizes mixed feeling of the bride. She is clear that her life has changed now. She is full of laughter as well as tears because of this mixed feeling. She is happy that she is married but she is sorrowful because she has to depart leaving behind her father mother and other relatives. In the next stanza the poetess talks about-
“Some are purple and gold-flecked
For she who has journeyed through life midway,
Whose hands have cherished, whose love has blest,
And cradled fair sons on her faithful breast,
And serves her household in fruitful pride,
And worships the gods at her husband’s side.”
In this stanza the poetess says about the mature and experienced women. Purple, gold mixed with grey bangles are preferred by older ladies. It is all about experience. The wives who are loyal and true to her relationship have been talked here. They stand with their husband and worship the almighty together. Such experienced ladies who have mothered sons and daughters loyally and are faithful and have no black secrets to hide add beauty and pride to her family. Such ladies prefer to wear purple, gold and grey. These colors symbolize maturity and ripeness.
In this poem Sarojini Naidu has talked about three stages of a woman. First stage is when she is a virgin and second stage is when she is married and the third stage comes when she approaches Middle Ages. Sarojini Naidu has said that the choice of colors of the bangles keeps on changing along with the three stages of women. There is another poem Indian Weavers written by Naidu and it is similar to the present poem.
Few Important Questions:- (Short Questions)
1. What is being referred to as ‘shining loads’? Who is bearing them?
Shining loads are the bangles of different colors. The bangle sellers are bearing them to sell at the temple fair.
2. Where are the bangle sellers trying to sell these bangles? Whom are they calling to buy them?
The bangle sellers are trying to sell the bangles at the temple fair. They are calling girls and women of different age groups to buy those bangles.
3. List the words used to represent the bangles?
Few words like ‘lustrous circles of radiant life’, ‘delicate, bright rainbow-tinted circles, ‘shining load’ are the words used to represent the bangles.
4. What do we understand from the line ‘tranquil brow of a woodland stream’?
The line ‘tranquil brow of a woodland stream’ means young maiden girls who bear bangles of different colors and are like blooming buds growing near a woodland stream. The word tranquil means ripples and waves of emotions which young girls generally have.
5. Explain ‘limpid glory of newborn leaves’.
Limpid glory of new born leaves means young girls who are approaching to their youthfulness. They are as fresh as tender leaves and they care for their beautiful looks. This is one of the reasons that they wear vibrant color like green, silver and blue.
6. Why are silver and blue colors compared to the mountain’s mist?
Silver and blue colors are compared to the mountain mists because they symbolize tenderness. Maiden girls like such colors and wear them.
7. What do we understand from the phrases ‘bridal laughter’ and ‘bridal tear’?
Bridal laughter and bridal tear means a newly married girl having mixed emotions. She is happy because she is married and she is tearful because she is departing away from her parents and relatives after her marriage.
8. Name and explain the figure of speech used in the line ‘Like her bridal laughter and bridal tear’.
9. Which figurative language is used in the line ‘Who will buy these delicate, bright rainbow-tinted circles of light?’
10. What is the idea behind the phrase ‘fruitful pride’?
Fruitful Pride refers to the loyalty of middle aged women who have dedicated their lives towards their families.