Conch Shell is also known as Sankha in India. It has been related with Hindu tradition and has important place in Indian Culture since time immemorial. During the period of Gupta Empire, the conch shells were used as a war horn. Lord Krishna used to appear in the battle field with his conch shell, Panchajanya. Mother Durga holds Sankha in one of her ten hands. Blowing conch shell has always been related with Hindu rituals. The age old practice is still relevant today.
The housewife in rural Indian villages blow conch with the mark of Evening. Conches are also used during natural calamities. It is blown to warn the people in times of crisis. In pre-Independence days, this practice of warning the co-workers was very effectively utilized in the National Movement.
Bengal had been the major share of conch shell industry in India. The Bengali people in India had been supplying conch bangles to prettify the hands of married Hindu women, which they bear as a mark of good fortune.
The Hindus of Bengal used to wear shell bracelets in the past. Now, they have gone out of fashion. The wearing of bracelets of conch shell was taken a religious obligation. It was also presented to the wedding bride by her father.
The traditional crafts of India, including the conch shell industry, were spread over various parts of India. The town of Dacca (now in Bangladesh) had been the major region of conch shell work in Bengal. Even West Bengal used to produce fine Bengals of conch. The blowing conch with complex design and figures of gods and goddesses were skillfully crafted by these artisans.
The buttons of various shapes used to be made from shells, and these were in good demand across the country. They also have overseas market. In recent times shell buttons have been replaced by plastic buttons.
The artisans of conch shell had enjoyed a very prominent position in Indian Society. They are still making conch bangles of various shapes, sizes and designs. But the religious compulsion that was traditionally associated with couch shell has lost much of its importance in modern times.