A bindi is an auspicious mark or a forehead decoration worn by young girls and women in South and south East Asia particularly India. Hindus attach great importance to this ornamental mark on the forehead between the two eyebrows -- a spot considered a major nerve point in human body since ancient times. 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. Bindi is derived from the Sanskrit word bindu meaning a drop, a dot.
The area between the eyebrows, the sixth chakra known as the 'ajna' meaning 'command', is the seat of concealed wisdom. It is the centre point wherein all experience is gathered in total concentration. As per the followers of Tantrism this chakra is the exit point for kundalini energy. The bindi is said to retain energy and strengthen concentration. It is a symbol of auspiciousness, good fortune and festivity. The bindi is said to retain energy and strengthen concentration and to protect the lady and her family from demons or misfortune. Traditional bindi is red or maroon in color. A pinch of vermilion powder or Sindoor, kumkum is applied skillfully with practiced fingertip make the perfect red dot. Red color represents Shakti or strength in Hindu religion. There are many mythological stories related to Bindi.
Not only women in India wear Bindi , the bridegroom's make-up is incomplete without the TILAK. Some Western women, who have converted to Hinduism, such as in the Hare Krishna’s, also wear bindis. Sometimes they are worn as a style statement. International celebrities such as Gwen Stefani, Shakira, Madonna, Nina Hagen, Nelly Furtado, and Shania Twain have been seen wearing bindis. Ancient Chinese women wore similar marks (for purely decorative purposes) since the second century.
In present times, though bindis have undergone a major transformation and are available in intricate designs and patterns, traditional bindi designs have still managed to retain their magical charm. It has become a decorative item and is no longer restricted in color or shape. Self-adhesive bindis (also known as sticker bindis) are available, usually made of felt or thin metal and adhesive on the other side. These are simple to apply, disposable substitutes for older tilak bindis.
In India Bindi is known by various names in different parts of the country. Tikli in Marathi, Pottu in tamil & Malayalam, Tilak in Hindi, Chandlo in Gujarati, Bottu or Tilakam (in Telugu), Teep in Bengali.
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