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Why do some Indian women have a red dot on their forehead?: Bindi (decoration)

The red dot is called a bindi in Hindu Culture

The red dot is called a bindi. It is a form of body decoration. Culturally, hindus attach a lot of importance to this ornamental mark and call it by various names - pottu, bindi, tikka, tilakam and sindoor. There are various theories on why it is important and I will share a few here.

The 'Hot' Spot

The area between the eyebrows on the forehead is the spot of 'agna' chakra. In yogic science, this spot is considered as one of immense power, often called as the third eye. It signifies a point of awakening and is usually activated while pursing spiritual sciences. In Chinese acupressure sciences, this point is considered to be a converging point for nerves and a massage is believed to relieve headaches. Ayurveda also believes massaging this spot will relieve stress and insomnia.

The 'Magic' Ingredient

Traditionally kumkum ( a mixture of turmeric and lime) or chandan (sandalwood) was used to mark a bindi. Kumkum is hygroscopic in nature and can greatly assist to remove excess water from one's head. Tumeric's anti-bacterial properties are helpful too. Further, the colour red is believed to aid spiritually. Chandan or sandalwood is renowned for its 'cooling' properties. For a hot tropic country, application of chandan on forehead ( a nerve centre) helps to cool one's entire system.

On a religious note, the color red symoblises 'shakti', the goddess of strength. A kumkum is marked on girls after marriage denoting strength and wishing for peace.

For Married women its called Sindoor

It is called Sindoor (main ingredient is generally vermillion which is a sulfide of mercury) and worn by generally married Hindu women (some religious men use it too, but not as a dot but as a big stretched out thumb print on the forehead). They also put a line of this powder along the parting of hair on their head. Both of these traditionally signify the marital status of the woman/girl - kind of like wedding rings/band in the western world. It signifies love, fertility, prosperity etc. for the married woman. According to some beliefs of Hinduism the forhead/middle of the two brows is the seat of wisdom/one of the six chakras/Brahma/Spiritual power (or the all seeing third eye). So traditionally the dot is used to store the energy of the power/signify and remind us of its existence.

However, you may also be talking about the coloured (any colour possible) dot made of suede or other material with a glue/sticky back and worn by women all over india irrespective of (at least as far as I know) religious following or marital status. That is called a 'bindi', derived and minisculized from 'bindoo' - which is the Sanskrita word for 'dot'. This is just a cosmetics and beauty enhancer.

Women and men have acupressure point in their fore head which when pressed by the ring finger of right hand (I,e when wearing a bindhi or kum kum) the acupoint is pressed and that nerve activates the brain. 

One can control ones mind by concentrating over this point.  That's why to avoid this kind of attraction women put bindhi which will cover the point to avoid such happenings.  There will be a controversy based on religion in this kind of questions. Hindus put bindhi but what about Muslims ?? Yes they also protect themselves by closing their entire face while wearing burkas. But now a days hindus girls also avoid putting bindhi. Its becoming a fashion. They don't realise the science behind this. 

Notice the position of Ajna chakra. That is where bindis have to be rightfully placed.

Chakras are basically energy points that correspond to major points in the physical body (in relation to nerves). They are also believed to be centres of cosmic energy connection of the body. This principle forms the basic for many traditional healing methods like Pranic healing, Reiki and mainly yoga.

Moving towards the question in specific, ajna chakra is the 'seat of concealed wisdom' (as mentioned in Bindi (decoration)). In other words it represents the subconscious mind of individuals and the various thought processes. Negative energy in the form of negative thoughts and black magic enters the body through this chakra. When you place a bindi, you block the negative energy from entering the body.

Traditional bindis are made of kumkum which is basically turmeric and saffron. Turmeric has many many uses in culinary and health sciences and also cosmetics. Similar to how it scientifically blocks UV rays, turmeric in kumkum blocks the negative energy, which i mentioned earlier. Saffron is also generally used for cosmetic purposes.

Also red bindis are said to impart certain beauty to women when they wear it.

I realize that chakras, on which my explanation is based, have not been scientifically proven. I can just say that the previously mentioned techniques like Yoga, Pranic healing, Reiki,etc have proven results and they have originated in various parts of the world, not just India AND that chakras are not just figments of Hindu religion.

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Anika Devi received her Bachelor’s degree in Media, Culture and Communication from New York University in 2012. She began freelancing for Business Solutions BD in 2010 and joined the team as a staff writer three years later. She currently serves as the assistant editor.
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