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More then their cooling properties, bindis worn by women is also the reminder of their wedding vows, because a bindi is worn by Hindu married women to symbolize their marriage. Myth is that it protects them from the bad eye of people. However, today the religious significance of the bindi is largely forgotten and it is worn as a fashion accessory.


This traditional Hindu adornment is known by many names: Bindhi, Pottu, Tilakam, and Tika.  It is worn on the  forehead.



Bindi worn on the forehead signifies marriage status or fashion statement


Indian woman wearing a Bindi


It comes in many shapes - a round dot, a graceful frozen flame and other exotic adventurous forms. Traditionally the bindhi or kumkum is auspicious with the most common colours being red or maroon. The very positioning of the bindhi is significant. The area between the eyebrows is the seat of latent wisdom. This area is known as the "Agna" - the 6th chakra - meaning "command". It is said to control various levels of concentration attained through meditation. 


The central point of this area is the "Bindhu" wherein all experience is gathered in total concentration. Tantric tradition has it that during meditation, the kundalini - the latent energy that lies at the base of the spine is awakened and rises to the point of sahasrara (7th chakra) situated in the head or brain. The central point, the bindhu, becomes therefore a possible outlet for this potent energy. It is believed that the red kumkum lies between the eyebrows to retain energy in the human body.


The colour red is significant. Red represents Shakthi. The red colour, some believe, symbolizes the far more ancient practice of offering blood sacrifices to propitiate the Gods - particularly the Goddess Shakthi. In time, communities put an end to actual sacrifices and offered gifts instead, but the colour red remained. Red, it is believed, symbolizes love. The yellow of the turmeric has the power to influence the intellect. That is why the red kumkum and the yellow turmeric are placed side by side in temples or in any homes during a celebration. Both are offered to women at the time of leave-taking in certain parts of the country. This is to express goodwill and the hosts' prayers for the visitors' continued good fortune.

Kumkum attains special importance in temples dedicated to Shakthi, Lakshmi and in other Vaishnavite temples. Kumkum is of special significance of Fridays and special occasions.


Outside South Asia, bindis may be worn by women of Indian origin. Western women who have converted to Hinduism, such as in the Hare Krishnas, may also wear bindis. Sometimes they are worn as a style statement. International celebrities such as Shakira, Gwen Stefani, Madonna, and Shania Twain have been seen wearing bindis.



What's that Red Dot?

In southern India, girls choose to wear a bindi, while in other parts of India it is the prerogative of the married woman. A red dot on the forehead is an auspicious sign of marriage and guarantees the social status and sanctity of the institution of marriage. The Indian bride steps over the threshold of her husband's home, bedecked in glittering apparels and ornaments, dazzling the red bindi on her forehead that is believed to usher in prosperity, and grants her a place as the guardian of the family's welfare and progeny.



A Hot Spot!

The area between the eyebrows, the sixth chakra known as the 'agna' meaning 'command', is the seat of concealed wisdom. It is the centre point wherein all experience is gathered in total concentration. According to the tantric cult, when during meditation the latent energy ('kundalini') rises from the base of the spine towards the head, this 'agna' is the probable outlet for this potent energy. The red 'kumkum' between the eyebrows is said to retain energy in the human body and control the various levels of concentration. It is also the central point of the base of the creation itself symbolising auspiciousness and good fortune.




Wedding vows


Marriage vows



How to Apply

Traditional bindi is red or maroon in color. A pinch of vermilion powder applied skillfully with practiced fingertip make the perfect red dot. Women who are not nimble-fingered take great pains to get the perfect round. They use small circular discs or hollow pie coin as aid. First they apply a sticky wax paste on the empty space in the disc. This is then covered with kumkum or vermilion and then the disc is removed to get a perfect round bindi. Sandal, 'aguru', 'kasturi', 'kumkum' (made of red turmeric) and 'sindoor' (made of zinc oxide and dye) make this special red dot. Saffron ground together with 'kusumba' flower can also create the magic!



Fashion Point

Nowadays, with changing fashion, women try out all sorts of shapes and designs. It is, at times a straight vertical line or an oval, a triangle or miniature artistry ('alpana') made with a fine-tipped stick, dusted with gold and silver powder, studded with beads and crusted with glittering stones. The advent of the "sticker-bindi", made of felt with glue on one side, has not only added colors, shapes and sizes to the bindi but is an ingenious easy-to-use alternative to the powder. Today, bindi is more of a fashion statement than anything else, and the number of young performers sporting bindis is overwhelming, even in the West.  Even those who use the bindi purely for decorative purposes, often notice its power.



Modern adhesive bindis





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