Bindi/Kumkum is a form of body decoration and is worn on forehead between the eyebrows. Culturally, Hindus attach a lot of importance to this ornamental mark. Lets get to know various theories why Bindi is important in Hindu culture.
The color red symbolizes ‘shakti‘, the goddess of strength. A bindi is marked on girls after marriage denoting strength and wishing for peace.
It is one of the 5 places Goddess Laxmi (Goddess of wealth and prosperity) resides on Earth. Read here about other five places. So wearing Bindi shows respect for mother and gives prosperity to your family. Many women of other religions (especially in Indian Subcontinent) wear some form of mark on their forehead.
The tilak (Mark on forhead) invokes a feeling of sanctity in the wearer and others. It is recognized as a religious mark. Its form and colour vary according to one’s caste, religious sect or the form of the Lord worshipped.
Also Vishnu worshippers apply a chandan tilak of the shape of “U,” Shiva worshippers a tripundra of bhasma, Devi worshippers a red dot of kumkum.
The tilak covers the spot between the eyebrows, which is the seat of memory and thinking. It is known as the Aajna Chakra in the language of Yoga. The tilak is thus a blessing of the Lord and a protection against wrong tendencies and forces.
In earlier times, the four castes – Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra – applied marks differently.
The brahmin applied a white chandan mark signifying purity, as his profession was of a priestly or academic nature.
The kshatriya applied a red kumkum mark signifying valour as he belonged to warrior races.
The vaishya wore a yellow kesar or turmeric mark signifying prosperity as he was a businessman or trader devoted to creation of wealth.
The shudra applied a black bhasma, kasturi or charcoal mark signifying service as he supported the work of the other three divisions.
* The area between the eyebrows is said to be the sixth chakra, agni, the seat of “concealed wisdom”. According to followers of Yoga, this chakra is the exit point for kundalini energy. Kumkum is supposed to keep the place cool and thus healthy!
* The tilak is said to retain energy and strengthen concentration. It is also said to protect against demons or bad luck.
* The entire body emanates energy – the forehead and the subtle spot between the eyebrows especially. That is why worry generates heat and causes a headache. The tilak or kumkum cools the forehead, protects us and prevents energy loss. Sometimes the entire forehead is covered with chandan or bhasma. Using plastic reusable “stick bindis” is not very beneficial, even though it serves the purpose of decoration.
* 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.
Notice the position of Ajna chakra. That is where tilak or kumkum have to be rightfully placed.