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Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Who will not love the yellow metal?


For the first time in my life I have come across people who won’t wear any jewels. My neighbour’s maid one day told me that her landlords do not wear any jewels and often persuade her also not to wear any jewels. I was confused for a moment. It just reminded me of my school days when one day suddenly the school authorities announced that students shouldn’t wear any gold ear rings. It took us a day or two to realize that the decision was taken because a KG girl had lost her ear rings!
Malayalam actress Kavya Madhavan
But here, the case is different. It is because of the religion that they do not wear any jewels. The maid told me that her landlords were Pentecostal Christians. And now I realize why the small kid was so curious about my chain when I took her in my arms the first day I met my neighbours 10 months ago. The kid was pulling my chain and the mother had to literally pull the little one away from the chain, only making her to scream and cry. I noticed that the mother was not wearing anything and I thought it to be a fashion. And it took me nearly 10 months to know the fact that they belong to a faith which forbids them to wear any jewels! The family strictly follows the faith and adheres to the principles.

But I wonder if everybody follows and committed as my neighbours are. I often feel how can a woman stay away from jewels? Doesn’t she feel like having some at least? I have not read the Bible and I don’t know if the holy book restricts Christians from wearing any jewels, as I see other Christians wearing jewels. I don’t know why this particular group considers wearing jewels as “sin”. And maybe again, the interpretation of the Bible differs and something might have been interpreted in a manner that it forbids ornaments. Here I remember Mahatma Gandhi who once said: “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
A Christian bride
I have also heard that few denominations of Kerala Pentecostals will not baptize a person if he/she is wearing ornaments! Leaving apart what the holy book says, let me think about it from a social aspect. Even during earlier times, social status was determined by the amount of gold and silver jewellery a person wears. During weddings, gold was given as part of dowry, so the more gold they gave as dowry or they wear the more rich they were considered to be. While the rich wore lot of gold jewellery, the poor, who couldn’t afford, wore glass, plastic or stone beads’ jewellery. Maybe when Christianity entered India, many of these poor people found solace in the new religion, as it preached simplicity and treated everybody alike. Maybe they decided to shun jewellery and start their life afresh in the newly accepted faith.

And maybe because of this decision, Pentecostal Christians took a joint decision to abstain from divorce, wearing ornaments, remarriage of divorced, smoking, drinking wine, going to theatre to watch commercial movies, watching drama or dance along with unbelievers etc. It was a requirements for the believers to avoid such things to get baptized and to join a Pentecostal church.

Another important feature among this group is wearing white dress. The elders insist others to wear white, symbolizing purity, inside and outside. Whether they are in the US or the UK, North India or in South India, they maintain their identity and stick to the rules set by their forefathers!
A Christian bride
Okie, coming back to the topic: I sometimes keep wondering if I was a goldsmith in my previous birth, because I love gold like anything. And my relatives keep asking if I’m the same woman who used to spurn the metal during my childhood. I used to laugh at my cousins seeing their love for jewels and today, to their and my own surprise I own more jewels than any of them!

My love for jewels began only after attending a Malayalee friend’s wedding. Then also, I had no idea that one day I would end up marrying a Malayalee, who are known for their loads and loads of jewels on the bride during weddings. Slowly, my salary and savings went on to buy jewels which helped to save my parents’ grace during my wedding. Yes, I will never forget the incident where one female counted how many gold bangles I was wearing during my wedding and another who sarcastically made fun of me asking if the maatti along with the ear rings I’m wearing was mine or my mother’s. Though I couldn’t stop laughing at her ignorance, I simply replied “mine”. Reason for such query? Simple? It was an antique south Indian temple jewel and I had paid double the money to get that set, but women (who are unaware of the fact that wearing old and antique temple jewellery is a new trend) thought that I’m wearing some old jewellery (probably from my mom’s or grandmom’s)! But whatever said and done, I love my jewels and absolutely adore them.
A Muslim bride
Somehow, I’m attracted to gold like a magnet. Every time I have some extra cash or find some special occasion, whether my birthday or my hubby’s or parent’s birthday or my wedding anniversary or my parents’ wedding anniversary or some auspicious occasions or festivals, I head towards a jewellery shop to pick up a gold bangle or a gold coin. I just love the metal. I save and save and always tell myself that I will invest in some other thing, but the minute I see a jewellery shop, I seem to gravitate towards gold! My hubby is often irritated by my irrational obsession and I counter-argue telling him that it is a stunningly rational one, given the trend in gold prices, which would come in handy in future.


And I have inherited this bad habit of presenting something in gold for near and dear ones. I just wait for an opportunity to buy gold. So far, a gold chain bought for my hubby’s friend was the expensive one back home, and I remember how I had cried for one day when I lost that chain with a diamond pendant. Yes, some gold is due on our part and his friend would get something else from us when we return home ;)

Recently, we had Vij’s friend’s wedding and though initially we thought of buying him a good watch, then felt like no, not watch! Then, I took my hubby to a gold shop and we ended up buying a beautiful diamond pendant for his wife. When we presented the gift before he left for his wedding, our friend was literally excited, overwhelmed with joy and emotions. When else do you get to see such a moment? Gold comes in handy and can bring that glitter and smiles back on faces, I swear, try giving some such presents and see how happy you will be and how happy your friend or relative or family member will be!   

I don’t think I’m the only one to love this yellow metal. It is uniformly loved across the country, like cricket and movies. I sometimes feel naked and starving without some kind of the sparkling trinket on my body. And show me a house where there is no sign of some piece of gold, barring quality and quantity.
Anoushka Shetty in temple jewellery
And I have come across families where the shiny metal has come to save their lives and honour. I have seen families fighting for the gold, brides getting tortured and harassed, but still there’s not a single woman who can say that she doesn’t love this metal. And will any woman forget how she lost all her jewels to her in-laws? I don’t think so, my mom would never forget how she lost all her jewels to her in-laws, not just her, many of my cousins and their daughters too will never forget such incidents. For as women, we have a sort of emotional attachment towards gold jewellery and would never like to part with them.

If other countries see gold as an investment, Indians, including me, have a sort of emotional attachment to the metal and would never dream of parting from it. But we have to laud people before independence and during independence, for contributing their precious metal for the country and war. My dad remembers how during the 1965 Indo-Pak war, thousands of people across the country had put their gold jewels in soldiers' fund.
My dad sometime tells me how his teachers used to often mention about a ship explosion outside Mumbai in 1944 and the blast had sent a shower of gold ingots over then Bombay. The gold bricks had even injured several people. Some bricks fell into the sea and other areas and to the surprise of many, they had crashed through roofs and fell in their homes. In amongst the debris falling from the sky were the 28lb ingots of gold, one of the first to be found was picked up by Burjorji Motiwala, a retired Parsee civil engineer. The ingot had crashed through the buildings corrugated roof, penetrated the floor of the balcony above and come to rest on his balcony in the corner. The bar was stamped Z13256 and was worth Rs 90,000. Motiwala received a reward of Rs 999 which he donated to the relief fund. 
Shobana in temple jewellery
Plus, I have also come across a few reports which say how men use magnets outside Zaveri Bazaar stores to procure gold dust. There are people who are called as gold dust collectors who have been around Zaveri Bazaar ever since the jewellery market was set up in Mumbai during the second half of the eighteenth century. Turning dust into gold is estimated to provide the daily bread for up to a thousand people. Ther are seasoned sweepers who retrieve up to four grams of gold a week. Wonder how gold can be found on streets?  During the buffering and polishing, gold traces are always left on the workshop floor. While most of it is carefully retrieved and recycled, a small quantity makes its way across the market on the soles of the workmen’s shoes, where it mingles with the dust on the ground.

While some, including me, just don’t see any auspicious occasion to buy gold, many consider it as goddess Lakshmi and make plans ahead when to buy it, on special days and months and muhurats as they give much importance to the auspicious and inauspicious days.
How about this??!!
Just before the festival season, newspapers brim over with advertisements of gold - in every form, a gold fund offer by banks or a discount on jewellery. No matter how much the prices soar, the love for the yellow metal never tends to stop or the vice versa, as the old saying says, in India, thanks to drought and marriage, the price of gold will always go up.
And if a person is thinking of gold as an investment it is always better to invest in gold bonds, which is a simple way to buy gold. Buying gold in demat form, either through the commodity exchange or through a mutual fund, can give us all the positives of gold with much fewer hassles and greater tax efficiency. When buying physical gold, not many realize that we are paying a premium on the gold which we would lose if we go to sell it. Plus, keeping the gold safe is always an issue. There is another important reason why people should opt to buy gold in demat form. We women are always reluctant to sell physical gold, but with a gold bond, it is much less of an emotional issue and we will not hold our men back from selling the gold bonds! 

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