Q:

Why do Indians have dots on their foreheads?

A:

Quick Answer

The dot in the middle of an Indian's forehead is called a bindi and is worn by both men and women as a symbol of their religion, social cast and marital status. In most Indian cultures, a married person wears a red bindi. Other names for the dot are tilak, tika, pottue, sindoor, tilakam and kumkum.

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Full Answer

The application of bindi, or tilak, is an Indian custom practiced since the vedic times. In reference to marriage, a red dot on a groom's forehead reminds him to treat the relationship he has with his wife as a spiritual relationship on a higher plane and to take on all the responsibilities of his family, ancestors and society. The red dot on a bride's forehead is a symbol of fertility and her acceptance as the preservator of her husband's family. Today, it has also become a fashion statement.

Bindi is placed between the eyebrows, because that area is believed to be a major nerve center that governs both intuition and brain activity. This region is also called the third eye, which signifies supreme wisdom.

In ancient times, red lead powder or sandalwood paste was used to create the dot, which was done with a still finger. Today, this dot is typically made with vermilion and red turmeric, zinc oxide and a red dye. In order to make a perfect circle, Indians may use a small circular disc or hollow pie coin.

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