Creating a Bindi
A lot of people unfamiliar with the practice often wonder what exactly a bindi is; “what is a bindi?” is a fairly common question posed to those who wear them. Bindis are made through a fairly simple system. First, wax paste is used to mark the area that will be filled in, and then a vermillion powder is used to fill in the paste, giving it its recognizable red color. Often, a small disc is used to create a perfect circle, though experienced individuals are able to create the shape by hand. After the paste has dried, what is left is a perfect red circle on the forehead. So, when people wonder what the “dot on forehead” they commonly see is – it really is just a dot of color on the forehead!
Traditionally, bindis are used to mark a bride’s status in her society. Often, married women will wear a red mark on their foreheads to symbolize their commitment to their husbands, and are encouraged to remove the mark if they become widowed. Traditionally, bindis are also used to symbolize Hinduism; a person who wished to demonstrate their commitment to their faith would have this mark on their forehead. While there are a number of other aspects of the bindi meaning that can be dated back hundreds of years, these two – marital and religious status – have been among the most common historic reasons for both men and women to have this mark on their foreheads.
Bindi's Use Today
Today, bindis are still very commonly seen in cultures both of Southern Asia and beyond it, as far away as in the United States, where the cultural roots do not appear. While marital and religious aspects certainly are a part of the culture surrounding them, there is another popular reason to wear one in today’s society: they look nice. As a fashion statement or cosmetic preference, bearing a small mark on the forehead is a popular choice for many. Even the style has changed; instead of always being a mark made from vermillion, sometimes additional colors will be added, or the shape may be different. Some marks are shaped as tear drops, or crescents, and bear white or black dots in their centers.
While bindis have their roots in a specific cultural practice, they have since expanded, and appear in many places across the world for many different reasons. Whether stylistic or for religious purposes, this has become both an easily recognizable image, and a unique kind of fashion jewel that is still becoming increasingly popular.
How They Pronounce Bindi Across India
- Gujaratis call it Chandlo
- Assamese refer to it as Phot which means a tiny pressing mark on forehead
- In Hindi it's called Tilak
- Konkanis (Goa region) refer bindi as Tilo
- For Marathis it's Kunkoo
- Tamil and Telugus call it Pottu or Chukka or Bottu