Bindi that tiny dot that Hindu women put on their forehead, intrigues a lot of people When I visited Amsterdam many years back, my Dutch friend’s girlfriend kept quizzing me about a tiny blue bindi that I wore with a kurta. I saw firsthand how foreigners are so in awe of our traditional dress and adornments. My first exposure to the bindi was probably through my mum. She always had a bright red bindi on her forehead that looked immensely pretty and brought her face alive. She only wore saris and traditional Indian salwar kameezes, and it really suited her. Most Indian married women of her generation wore their bindis stringently. She also regularly wore her glass bangles and toe rings. For her, they were a symbol of being a married woman that she proudly sported. My sister and I wore more western clothes and having been brought up in Mumbai, would not be seen dead with a bindi on our forehead and oil in our hair teamed with something like jeans or skirts.
But I did wear colour-coordinated bindis when I wore salwar kameezes or churidars like many girls of my generation. Bindis then really complimented my look. After marriage, unlike my mum, I did not really take to wearing bindis or any other traditional symbol of marriage. If it was a festival or a traditional gathering, I dressed up with gusto. My husband did like me wearing bindis with traditional Indian wear that I mostly did but never wore it with the western clothes that I tend to favour. I can live in my jeans. So comfortable!
Then I came to live in the South. I noticed that women, even young girls wore a small bindi on their forehead. Apparently, it is a custom here. Would love someone to elaborate the significance. Little girls wear it with their school uniforms too sometimes clashing with strict school guidelines. Slowly, I started wearing really tiny bindis, mostly embellished ones. And now with two kids, even with traditional Indian wear, I somehow lost the habit of wearing bindis. Along with painting my finger nails and so many other things that I did regularly when I was younger and let’s say more enthusiastic.
Recently, I started going to the temple on Saturdays. And that is when I reconnected with the tradition of wearing a proper round maroon bindi on my forehead. The other day, my younger son asked if I had gone to the temple. I answered in the affirmative. He said he could make out since I wore a bindi. That made me smile. I didn’t realise how I had gone from liking bindis to hardly ever wearing a bindi person.
Then he asked why do you wear a bindi? I know it was used to beautify one’s looks and along with sindoor (vermilion) is considered an overt expression of being married. But then young girls or those who are unmarried also sport bindis. So I guess, bindis have become more of an adornment than a religious symbol, worn or not as per one’s wishes.
So, there you go, one tiny conversation led to these bindi tales. 🙂 Would love to hear if you sport bindis and like them?