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A toe ring or Bichiya, is a ring made out of various metals and non-metals worn on any of the toes. The second toe of either foot is where they are worn most commonly. This is because proportionately it's the longest toe and thus the easiest toe to put a ring on and stay without being connected to anything else. In most western countries they are a relatively new fashion accessory, and typically have no symbolic meaning. They are usually worn with barefoot sandals, anklets, bare feet or flip flops.
Like finger rings, toe rings come in many shapes and forms, from intricately designed flowers embedded with jewels to simple bands. Fitted toe rings are rings that are of one size, whereas adjustable toe rings have a gap at the bottom so they can be easily made to fit snugly.
TOE RINGS IN INDIA (BICHIYA)
Wearing of toe rings is practiced in India. Toe rings have been a part of the Indian culture since the Ramayana times, there has been a mention of Sita, when abducted by Ravana, threw her toe ring in the way, so that lord Rama could find her. So from the Ramayana times, till now, toe rings have been a part of a married woman’s jewellery box. In many different Indian cultures, the husband puts the toe rings on his wife’s second toe of both feet, during the wedding ceremony.
The toe rings in India are usually made of silver and worn in pairs (unlike the trend in Western countries, where they are worn singly or in unmatched pairs) on the second toe of both feet. Traditionally they are quite ornate, though more contemporary designs are now being developed to cater to the modern bride. Some 'bichiya sets' may have pairs for four of the five toes, excluding the little pinky. 'Bichiyas' may not be made of gold, as gold holds a 'respected' status and may not be worn below the waist by Hindus, but this is not followed very strictly and toe rings made of gold and diamonds are commonly seen. The Chala (toe ring) symbolizes a chaste woman. These rings would be put on the toes and never removed. The rings would show that the woman is married and feminine.
In the 19th century mirror rings (i.e. rings with a small mirror placed on them) were sometimes worn on the great toe assumed to be for decorative purposes. Traditionally a large ring was worn on the great toe of the left foot to indicate a married status. Some men frequently wore a ring on the big toe for curative purposes or to augment their masculine vigour. These rings were seldom closed circles but open hoops so that they could easily be removed.
TOE RINGS IN USA
Toe rings were introduced to the United States by Marjorie Borell who, after returning from India began manufacturing and selling them in New York in 1973. Her first retail outlet was Fiorucci, a trendy fashion retailer located on 59th Street in New York. The "Original Toe Ring Boutique" sold toe rings in silver, gold and with diamonds. She eventually sold them in Bloomingdale's and many other retail outlets but due to the fact that her designs could not be patented, she moved on to other ventures but retains the title of Toe Ring Lady to this day.
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