Bindi, the red dot adorning the forehead of women in India is many things in one. The little dot has traveled miles from old traditions to modern style – from sindoor (sandal) and kumkum (red turmeric) to its self adhesive and jeweled avatar – from being an exclusive accessory of a married Hindu woman to a treasured ornament of the whole fashion loving female tribe.
Bindi takes its name from Sanskrit word “bindu” which means a small dot. Traditionally, the name fitted but a modern bindi flaunts shapes that are far from being round. The customary redness of the dot has also exploded into an array of colors.
The base of the bindi is generally a thin metal with an adhesive on one side. But the tiny base can hold intricate designs that are limited only by designer’s imagination.
It’s worn on the forehead, between the eyebrows. The place has special spiritual significance. It’s considered to be the position of Ajna Chakra which represents intellect and intuition – also referred as third eye or inner teacher. In Vedic times, a bindi was used by both men and women to worship intellect. Today too, Hindu men wear a kumkum bindi while offering prayers. The place between the eyebrows is also considered to be the exit route of powerful Kundalini energy therefore in yogic practices a bindi is used as a block to this exit – to preserve the Kundalini.
For women, in many parts of India, bindi continues to be seen as an indication of married status. Rude traditions expect a widow’s forehead to be dot-less – a plain and constant reminder of what she has lost. In some parts of India, young girls are expected to wear a small red dot as a symbol of their feminineness.
In urban India, particularly among working women, bindi is a choice. Women of all ages can wear it if and when they choose to. In whatever color, size, shape, and design that they like. Usually, it’s worn with ethnic attire – sari or salwar-kameej. You’ll rarely find someone in western wear sporting a bindi.
For Hindu brides, bindi is a must have accessory. They can get special bridal bindis that are not only worn between the eyebrows but also as adornment around the eyes. Some bridal bindis even come silver or gold plated and are decked with glass beads, sequins or semi-precious stones. Bollywood aficionados can even find bindis named after their favorite actresses.
The power and influence of Bindi on Indian women doesn’t end there. They also make an extremely popular gift among women in India, especially in north.
Defining a bindi is a challenging task for this little dot symbolizes love, romance, fashion, spirituality, prosperity, and a whole lot more.