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The Dots :)

So Sharon wanted to know about the "dots" that people wear on their heads here in South Asia... So here is my attempt to explain them :)
OK, so the "dot" in the picture below is generally called a Bindi (in other parts of the country it can be called other things - Pattu, Teep, Bottu, Nande, etc). It comes from the Sanskrit word - Bindu - that means a dot, drop or small particle.... so technically it is a dot :) So what is the meaning... well.... The area between the eyebrows (where the bindi is placed) is said to be the sixth chakra, ajna, the seat of "concealed wisdom". to followers of Tantrism, this chakra is the exit point for kundalini energy. The bindi is said to retain energy and strengthen concentration (like a lid to keep the energy in! - haha!). It is also said to protect against demons or bad luck. BUT If you ask most people what the meaning of the Bindi is... they'll just say that it just means that you're married or it's just "South Asian Culture"... Red is an "auspicious" color here. Women usually wear the red bindis as a way to show that they're married.
Originally they looked more like the picture below where the women would "paint them on" in the morning with red vermillion powder or other substances. Most women in the cities and some in the villages now wear the "sticker bindis" instead of painting it on each day.
Now, you don't have to be married to wear a bindi :) Usually the plain red bindis mean you're married, but there are all kinds of bindis. A lot of times college girls will wear fancy jeweled bindis when they dress up (as seen in the pic below) or just to look nice. So, wearing a bindi doesn't necessarily mean that you're married.
Wedding bindis can be very fancy (as seen below).
Some people wear bindis to match their clothes...
or to accentuate their fancy outfits... In the pic below you can see red powder (or vermillion powder) in the woman's hair part. This is called a sindoor. This is something that only married women wear. The meaning is supposed to be that the woman wearing it is wishing for a long life for her husband and the red is supposed to represent strength and love.
And, as most things go, there is a newer, more modern way to wear it... they have liquid sindoors... it looks like a little tube of lip gloss (with a similar applicator) and you just "paint" it on (as seen in the pic below) :)
Now, there is another mark that is comonly seen on people's faces (see pic below)... It's called a tika (टिका), or tilak.
This is defined by many different people in many different ways. Some people believe that a man should never be without one, some people only get them when they go to the temples, some people think that it has a cooling effect on the body... there are all sorts of things and I can't begin to even explain them all. Most people either put them on (or someone puts it on them) as they leave their house in the morning as a way of showing that they did their morning w0rship or they will apply it or have it applied by the temple priest or worker there as a way to show that they have w0rshipped or as an act of w0rship itself... (see, I told you it was confusing :)
For some special w0rship times they will even stick rice to their tika as a part of their w0rship.
The different styled tikas are supposed to represent the different g0ds that they are w0rshipping... it's different in different parts of South Asia (as seen in the pic below) :)
OK, one last thing... Somtimes people put black dots on their children (shown in the pic below). Usually on the forehead, or cheek. This is kind of like the "evil eye"... it's ususally there to ward off evil and protect the kid.
OK, so that was probably really boring... that was a lot of information.... so, sorry if I bored some of you - if you even made it this far - haha!

Comments

Woohoo! Thanks. I knew there were probably different reasons for different ones... but that's why I asked. I'm impressed you've learned the culture well enough to understand as much of it as you do. You should bring back jeweled stickers for all your newly married friends at home as wedding gifts :)
Laura said…
hey this is a great post...i learned a lot i never knew about the original meanings of the bindi and sindoor! i mostly just get the answer that it's just culture!
Misty said…
Wow! Thanks! I love hearing about the culture there. I would never have known other wise why they do that. It's interesting to me how everyone inturptes it differntly. Cool!
Bronie said…
great post. thanks for explaining the details! i'm impressed that you know all of that. :)
Bethany said…
Not boring at all... thank you!
Erin G said…
what an awesome post. I can't believe how much detail you know about bindis - wow! thanks for sharing the cultural update.
The Agarwals said…
Rahul's mom always lets the boys put bindis on her- she has the sticker kind- As soon as we get to Miami, they ask if they can go get them. It's neat to hear a little bit about what they mean, stand for, etc. We've really only heard, "culture or marriage" reasons. Thanks for all the info, I wasn't bored at all!
Is there anything significant to all the bangles or the colors of them or how many a woman wears or are those purely for fashion sense?
E-Rob said…
Cool post! I like the gigantic bindis some of the women in the serials wear. I joked about it once with an Indian friend, and she didn't see what was so funny. haha!
Deanna said…
Thanks!!! Great photos and great explanation!
Kara said…
That wasn't long...or boring. Good summary on all the different "head dottings" around these parts! :) I love bindis and have passed my love to my neices in the states as well. They've been known to go to VBS wearing their bindis...we think its funny to get those Tennessee-peoples confused! :)
Mike and Morgan said…
That was an awesome post! Thanks for sharing...I have always wondered about "the dots."
not boring...interesting...thank you! :)
Grayson Leverenz said…
What a great post - thanks for sharing! I do a similar thing for the USA if you want to check it out...

mbaintheusa.com

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