Owing to all forms of cinema which have a romantic genre, the big scene of the ‘proposal’ is anticipated. The mainstream moment is locked in the minds of every avid romantic movie audience – the male protagonist going down on one knee, a typically red or brown box placed on one of his hands, the female protagonist in awe and a shiny ring – the cliched aspect of it is undeniable.
This scene is often followed by the male protagonist placing the ring on the female’s ring finger of the left hand. This ritual is not only followed in movies and Western heritage but is present in India as well. This custom can be traced to the Romans, who believed that the ring finger of the left hand has a DIRECT VEIN to the heart, symbolizing the love shared between two people being of the highest order.
With further modernization and speculation of whether such a vein does exist, the practice has somewhat changed in countries such as Norway and Russia – with couples opting to choose which hand to wear their wedding rings on. In India, the custom was built-in through the entry of westernization and modern values, since the practice of exchanging rings during weddings in India is relatively new. As more and more couples are changing the traditional ways, the practice of donning a wedding ring on the ring finger of the left hand is on route to becoming obscene, but it still happens to be the one tradition being actively practiced almost all around the world.
Following this belief, this apparent vein was called the VENA AMORIS or the vein of love. While this practice held a sentimental value back when it had started, the question that persists is of the certainty of this so-called vena amoris.
The vein connecting the fourth finger (i.e., the ring finger) to the heart is called the vena amoris. A VEIN refers to a tube-like structure that carries deoxygenated (i.e, oxygen-free) blood back to the heart (except the PULMONARY VEIN and UMBILICAL VEIN, which perform the opposite function of carrying oxygenated blood to the heart). Veins exist in all parts of the body since the circulation of blood throughout the body and back to the heart is of crucial importance to maintaining the HOMEOSTASIS (i.e., the equilibrium between the physical, internal and chemical components of the body).
Logical reasoning and a good knowledge of biology, particularly of the circulatory system, suggests that there cannot be just one vein in existence which is connected to the heart, so the possibility of vena amoris being the only vein to do this is impossible. On the other hand, while it is claimed that vena amoris directly links the ring finger and the heart, this possibility is also slim since there is a complex network of veins and capillaries involved to move the blood around the body. Thus, while the vena amoris might have a connection to the heart, it is involved in an intertwined structure with the other veins.
Our bodies have asymmetry – BILATERAL SYMMETRY, to be proper. Bilateral symmetry is the ability of a structure to be divided into two equal, identical halves – thereby suggesting that our bodies are identical on both sides and are also made up of identical structures. If we imagine our body being halved from the head to the legs (called the ANTERIOR-POSTERIOR AXIS), we can assume both our hands contain the same veins and the same connections to the heart. This reason that the fourth finger of the right hand is also connected to the heart in a similar (or the same) way the that of the left hand has a line to the heart. Also, studies indicate that each finger of both our hands has similar structures connecting them to the heart – that is, an intricate and complex network of veins.
To summarise and provide a real answer to the question posed – yes, the fourth finger of the left hand is connected to the heart, but so are the rest of the fingers and every part of our body. About a direct vein from this finger to the heart is debatable as veins tend to criss-cross and hard to trace along the way. Still, since most customs have a sentimental value attached to them, science takes a back seat – leaving it up to the people to decide for themselves.