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Namaskaram everyone. This is my first posting so I hope I am not duplicating someone else. I have many related questions but even if someone can answer one or two it would be a start.
I have become fascinated by all the different traditional South Indian types of mangalyam/thaali but I can't find any resource that shows the varieties used by majority of women. (I know that yellow thread is common in Tamil Nadu and at least some parts of Andhra and that black beads are worn by most other groups except Mallus. I am more interested in types of pendants though.)
I know each family is different but I am trying to know broadly which thaalis are used by Tamil, Telugu, Kannadiga, and Mallu ladies - both Vaishnavaite and Shaivaite. Even if it is only preference, I'd love to know which are more common to each area.
For example, why are some Vaishnavaite ladies wearing thaali with only "namam" while others wear full namam, shangu, & chakram? And it seems some Shaivaite women wear thaali with Lingam and Meenakshi and some instead wear Naga shapes or other abstract styles that don't immediately look Shaivaite? What about the pendants that seem to have a plant with several branches growing up toward a flower (or with flowers on each branch) - is that thulasi or maybe bilva??
Do Hindu Mallu women usually wear only a central aalilai pendant or do they wear necklace with several different pendants? I do not know what Kannadigas wear at all - is it usually simple circular pendant/s on the black beads? Are the long bars shown between some of the circular pendants special because they show carving/flowers or it is all just decorative? I wonder which (Tamil?) women wear the pendants that are basically 3-D round shape/s with two prongs going downwards (kind of hard to describe)... And last I have seen a pendant which looks kind of like a flower pointing downward with about 7 petals spread out. Is it similar to adding Lakshmi kasu on the sides or is it only used by a certain sect?
I have seen in books the amazing thalis worn in the past by Chettiar women but am not sure if any Chettiars wear such elaborate ones anymore. They are so nice - I wish everyone still wore them.
I know these are a lot of questions but I would be so thankful if any maamis can tell what they know - either from modern or earlier times.