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According to historic record and compiled modern statistics, piercing of the nostril is the second most prevalent piercing practiced globally, falling short only to piercing of the ear lobe.  But did you know that there’s one area of the world where nose piercing has been mentioned even in sacred texts dating back over 3,000 years ago?  That place is Asia, or more specifically, India.

Nose piercing, it is said, was brought to India by way of the Middle East, and is made mention of in the Vedas (vey-duhs), sacred texts adhered to by the Orthodox Hindus of the Indian subcontinent.  The Vedas consist of four Samhitas (suhm-hi-tahs), or collections, and the oldest, the Rigveda (rig-vey-duh), contains the knowledge associated with the practice of traditional Indian medicine called Ayurveda (ah-yer-vey-duh).  In Ayurveda, the piercing of a woman’s nose is commonly performed to help lessen the pains associated with childbirth.

In certain groups, this piercing may be performed on the eve of a woman’s wedding, having symbolic significance in accordance with the act of marriage and the associated onset of bearing children.  Traditionally, large ornate nose jewelry will be worn, with a chain connecting the nose hoop to the ear or hair.  The chain will then be removed by the woman’s husband on the night of the honeymoon.

Some Indian tribal cultures also dictate the piercing of both nostrils, as in the Tamil, Pashtun, and Pahari, and other cultural groups common to Southern India.  Yet others, like the Apa Tani and those in Northeastern India may pierce one or both sides and subsequently stretch their nostril piercings, some to an inch or more in diameter. Septum piercing is common to particular ethnic groups throughout India as well, and also to the surrounding areas such as Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Burma, and even Pakistan.

Nose piercing has become extremely popular in Western culture since the 1970s, and some may be interested to know that the return of American and European youth who had ventured abroad to exotic lands like India, is largely responsible for this cultural anomaly.

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