The Traditional Kandyan Bride

The Traditional Kandyan Bride

Even though the wedding culture of Sri Lanka has been rapidly changing with various new trends, the high demand for Kandyan finery is still there. A bride in traditional Kandyan attires is not just special for the wedding ceremony, but she is a representation of the long-preserved Sri Lankan tradition, culture, and beliefs in Buddhism. In ancient Sri Lanka, the traditional Kandyan bridal costume and the groom attire were limited to the upcountry Kandyan population. As time passed by, he wedding ceremonies with brides and grooms dressed in Kandyan attires have been a common sight all over the country.

The elegant set of jewelry of a Kandyan bride consists of 26 pieces. Each piece of jewelry has been skillfully designed using gold, silver or brass embedded with pearls or stones. All the colors and the designed that have been chosen for these attires have their own significant and symbolical values. With all these carefully crafted jewellery and the beautifully decorated dress of the Kandyan bride (osariya), it is expected to give her a royal look at the wedding ceremony. She would be incomplete without even a single element of the traditional jewelry set. Therefore this article is especially for those who are looking forward to be dressed as an ideal traditional Kandyan Bride.

The jewelry set of the traditional Kandyan bride basically consists of following pieces.


1. The Nalalpatiya

The Nalal Patiya (head chain), which is a reflection of royalty is one of the most attractive and significant parts of the Kandyan bride. This is a three long chain to be draped around the head of the bride and there is a pendant at  the center of her forehead to which the 03 chains are attached. The nalalpatiya is usually made of gold or silver embedded with pearls or stones. The “Konda Koora” and “Panch Koora” which are used to keep the hair in place are also parts of the head jewelry of the Kandyan bride.

nalal patiya


2. The Sun and Moon (Ira Handa)

After draping the nalalpatiya around the head of the bride, the two circle shaped ornaments engraved with Sun and Moon are placed on either side of the head of the bride. According to the traditional customs, the sun is placed on the right side and the moon is placed on the left of the head of the bride. These two ornaments are pinned to the hair of the bride to symbolize the eternity of their marriage life ahead.


3. The Dimithi Earrings

The earrings worn by the traditional Kandyan bride are called “dimithi” and they indicate their Indian origin. They are long hanging earrings with chains of pearls and have been designed with the shape of an over- turned cup.

dimithri earings - kandyan bride

The most significant part of the Kandyan bridal jewelry is the set of necklaces which traditionally includes seven necklaces (mala hatha) because Sinhalese consider number 07 as a lucky number. 04 out of the 07 necklaces have pendants (padakkan). Thus, including the pendant of the nalalpatiya (head dress), a Kandyan bride wears five pendants on her wedding day. Usually, the designs of two or more swans, floral patterns, other animal designs are used for these pendants. The typical Sri Lankan design of swan is highly used for the jewelry and many other occasions because it symbolizes the purity, beauty and auspicious. The seven necklaces of the Kandyan bride are as follow.


4. The "Karapatiya" Necklace

This is the first and the shortest of the set of the necklaces and it is a choker necklace with a large pendant in the middle.


5. The Four Paddakkam Necklace.

Normally four necklaces with four different lengths and four pendants with four different sizes are worn by the bride. The design of these pendants can be varied according to the preference of the bride. The design of swan is a traditional as well as commonly used design for the necklaces of Kandyan outfit.


6. The Palakkan Necklace

The Palakkan necklace is a long chain with gold beads.


7. Pethi Necklace

This is the last and the longest of the all 07 necklaces. The necklace is designed in floral petal patterns.

The Kandyan bride wears two types of bracelets.


8. Seli Walalu

Seli walalu is a broad bracelet. There are two types of Seli Walalu. One is plan and the other one is embedded with stones.  A bride wears one bracelet on each waist.


9. The Gedi Walalu

These are made of a string of agasti stones. The bride wears two bangles on both hands.


10. Atha Mudu Walalla

Atha mudu walalla is a hand ornament with five rings. The five rings have been attached to a large pendant by five chains. The bride wears this ornament on her right hand.


11. The Hawadiya

The Hawadiya which is the last piece of jewelry of the Kandyan bridal jewelry set, is a waist chain with beads used to drape around one side of the waist of the bride.

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