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Why Indian people wear marks on forehead?

The dot or bindi also known as 'tika', 'pottu', 'sindoor', 'tilak', 'tilakam', 'bindiya', 'kumkum' and by other names. Pronounced as 'Bin Dee', the word bindi is derived from the Sanskrit word bindu, which means "drop". Bindi is an auspicious ornamental mark worn by Hindu girls and women on their forehead between the two eyes . Bindi is arguably the most visually fascinating in all form of body decoration. More than a beauty spot, the manga tika (bindi) indicates good omen and purity.

Traditionally Bindi is a symbol of marriage, very similar to western wedding bands. A red dot on the forehead is an auspicious sign of marriage and guarantees the social status and sanctity of the institution of marriage. Bindi were worn by married women in North India in the form of a little red dot. It denotes the woman's married status in most of the North Indian communities but in South India it is a prerogative of all girls to wear a bindi. The bridegroom's make-up is incomplete without Tilak, it is applied on the groom's forehead during the wedding ceremony. No festival or puja is complete without the tilak and sindoor. Red was chosen because that

color was suppose to bring good fortune into the home of the bride. The red mark made the bride the preserver of the family's honor and welfare. Over time, it has became a fashion accessory and is worn today by unmarried girls and women of other religions as well. No longer restricted in color or shape, bindis today are seen in many colors and designs and are manufactured with self-adhesives and felt.

The very positioning of the bindi is significant. The bindi is always worn on in the middle of the eyebrows, this is believed to be the most important pressure point of the human body. This point is known by various names such as Ajna chakra, Spiritual eye, Third eye 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 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.

Most religious Indians, especially married women wear a tilak or pottu on the forehead. It is applied daily after the bath and on special occasions, before or after ritualistic worship or visit to the temple. In many communities, it is enjoined upon married women to sport a kum kum on their foreheads at all times. The orthodox put it on with due rituals. The tilak is applied on saints and images of the Lord as a form of worship and in many parts of North India as a respectful form of welcome, to honour guests or when bidding farewell to a son or husband about to embark on an journey. The tilak varies in colour and form.

This custom was not prevalent in the Vedic period. it gained popularity in the Pauranic period. Some belive that it originated in South India.

The tilak or pottu invokes a feeling of sanctity in the wearer and others. It is recognized as a religious mark. It form and colour vary according to one's caste, religious sect or the form of the Lord worshiped.

In earlier times, the four castes (based on verna or color) - Braahmana,Kshatriya ,Vaishya and Sudra - applied marks differently. The brahmin applied a white chandan (sandalwood paste) mark signifying purity as his profession was of a priestly or academic nature. The Kshatriya applied a red kum kum mark signifying valour as he belonged to the warrior races. The Vaishya wore yellow kesar or termeric mark signifying prosperity as he was a business man or trader devoted to creation of wealth. The sudra applied a black bhasma, kasturi or charcoal mark signifying service as he support the work of the other three divisions. Also Lord Vishnu worshipers apply a chandan tilak of the shape of "U", Lord Shiva worshipers applied a tripundra bhasma, Devi worshippers applied red dot of kum kum.

The chandan, kum kum or bhasma which is offered to the Lord is taken back as prasad and applied on foreheads. The tilak covers the spot between the eye brows, which the seat of memory and thinking. It is known as the aajna chakra in the language of yoga. The tilak is applied with the prayer - "May i remember the Lord. May this pious feeling pervade all my activities. May I be righteous in my deeds". Even when we temporarily forget this prayerful attitude the mark on another reminds us of our resolve. The tilak is thus a blessing of the Lord and protection against wrong tendencies and forces.

The entire body emanates energy in the form of electro-magnetic waves - the forehead and the subtle spot between the eye brows especially so. That is why worry generates heat and causes a headache. The tilak or pottu cools the forehead, protects us and prevents energy loss. Sometimes, the entire forehead is covered with chandan or bhasma. Using plastic reusable 'stick bindis' is not very beneficial, even though it serves the purpose of decoration.

In the past few decades, not only married women have taken up this beautiful accessory. Girls of all ages enjoy wearing a variety of styles and colors. Today, the bindi is more about the mood and occasion. They are often matched with the color clothing a person is wearing. 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.

This unique to Indians and helps to easily identify INDIAN PEOPLE anywhere.

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Comment by Rohit Sharma on March 23, 2009 at 2:10pm
Namaste Liana ji,

Indeed a great ocean of knowledge, but just to say that the custom of wearing the mark (tilak) goes very back to the vedic time also, as without the application of the mark no work of any sort was started, the reason goes below:
The area behind the AJNA (mid of eyebrows) is indeed a place of the pineal gland which represents the area where the actual soul resides. Now when a mark is applied to the ajna area the chakra is activated and the gland (the soul) receives energy(DIVINE) directly from the crown chakra, as the mark works as a shield which block any inflow of the energy from that area, thus enhancing the power of ajna. Now once the soul has the proper energy it can concentrate or take in the lessons without distraction or the physical body can work for long before getting tired. (This is a reason why a bindi is worn by the indian house hold ladies to keep their physical self working properly).

Now coming to more deep knowledge.
HINDU : wear a tilak for the protection of the pineal gland from external energy.
HINDU : keep a block of hair at the back of the head just behind the ajna area when they shave their head
MUSLIMS : Wear a cap just at the top back of the head, to protect and enhance the same area.

The same type of wearing of the cap can been seen by the higher priests.

The same continues with the same logic behind.

Now coming to what Ananda ji said, indeed when this area is activated it is seen as an EYE, like the third eye for LORD SHIVA, as this is the eye of the soul. Its just not lizards but all maximum all the animals who have the third eye activated and they have the ESP developed to a high extend, eg: DOG/CAT etc who can sense any external energy present around.

Comment by pamshah on March 23, 2009 at 1:35am
Wow its awsome .......i knew liltle bit but not in this detail abt bindi...thanks a lot for sharing this knowledge ...jai shri KRISHNA
Comment by Liana on March 22, 2009 at 9:35pm
Dear Mani ji,

I am and was much interested in this topic as non indian human being. For sure my souls have indian roots!
So i did some researches and completed this post. Please feel free to add or correct if necessary.
Warm Regards,

Comment by Mani kutty on March 22, 2009 at 9:29pm
You have beaten me in bringing out this article. I had just keyed it into my laptop and wanted to send it tomorrow. Thank you very much for bringing this out.
Best Regards
Comment by Liana on March 22, 2009 at 1:40am
Hmmm Ananda, some yoga practitioners are doing OM meditations on Ajna chakra to activate this chakra called the 3rd eye. The pineal gland is nit the same as ajna chakra but a converter we might say.
Anyway, in vedic tradition, as remedies applying some sandal powder on that zone can really remove some types of headaches (tested by myself!)
Thank you for your comment. Glad the post was useful.
Comment by Ananda on March 21, 2009 at 9:40pm
Namaste Liana,

What a nice article, thanks for the post.

I have always associated the mark of the bindu or bindi with yoga and the Aajna chakra, so to hear about the social aspect is quite interesting and informative. One thing that comes up is some work that I did a few years back in regards to the nature of the morphogenic center of the brain, which is called the pineal gland. This is a single gland situated in the center of the brain just about where we would put the bindi... the third eye center. In my research, I found that this pineal gland can cause a major shift in awareness and usually alters consciousness when activated. Due to what I experienced and subsequently researched I instinctualy connected the third eye center with this physical pineal glad and I totally feel that this is what the ancient yogis were trying to tell us... to try to activate this center!

When we raise kundalini and this center is activated I feel that this glad becomes "turned on" and the being has a new or expanded awareness. Also, in the same paper, I found that this glad which is not parred is still present in most reptiles and can actually be seen on the physical level as an actual eye. In fact, in some lizards it's a fully developed physical eye...! I was reading that when they do autopsies on these lizards they find a complete third eye with a cornea and a pupil present. It's very interesting and my instinct tells me this is what was meant by the ancient sages in the texts of yoga...to turn on the pineal.

Thanks again for the post...


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