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.