Pote, the colorful glass bead necklace

Pote or the colorful glass bead necklace symbolizes the married women in Nepal. A woman seen wearing a pote is a married woman. Traditionally, it is a long necklace made out of colorful glass beads that usually has the color red in it.

photo credit: R. Kharel

Pote is the symbol of good luck for married women as it is worn only by those women whose husbands are alive. Widow is not allowed to wear a pote, neither is a divorcee. A woman starts wearing the pote from the day of her wedding when the groom puts it on her. He puts the Tilhari around her neck. Tilhari is a long necklace which consists of more than one string of pote with a gold pendent in the middle. It can be born like a garland or sideways, slung from the right shoulder and passing through the left arm.

The pote is believed to be connected with the good luck of a married woman and taking out the pote is discouraged. It is said that if the married do not wear a pote, it might bring bad luck to her husband’s health and even get him killed. Hence, the women never take out the pote, not even at night. Even while changing the pote, they wear the new one and take out the older.

Usually they wear a single string pote and it’s only during the festivals or occasions, special potes are worn. Brahmin and Khastriya women wear pote every time, all year along, however, the Gurungs only wear it during Lhosar, their New Year, and it is green in color but have no Tilhari in it.

Although pote is worn only by the Hindus, the beads are often imported by Japan and China. The sellers are mostly the Kashmiri Muslims living here in Nepal. The best place for shopping for the Pote is Indrachowk in the centre of Kathmandu. It is the biggest pote market in Nepal. The potes could be selected from the available sizes and designs or ordered according to the will.

Although it is essential for and common among the married women, nowadays, we can see girls using other accessories made out of pote.  Not only as a necklace but pote is used for making other jewelleries like bangles, bracelets, earrings and finger rings. It is also used to decorate handbags and other accessories.

Hence, pote or the glass beads holds a significant place in the Nepali culture and in life of a married woman. It not only symbolizes her married status but also helps in enhancing her wardrobe.