Image result for picture of an Indian woman with Bindi


Our generation in India has had a strange dichotomy built into our psyche. While we were being taught Science in schools and colleges, our Indian films have been consistently and persistently nurturing our minds with superstitions.

Indian Hindu women have always sported a red spot on their heads to signify that their husbands are alive. So much so, in the sign language of the aurally handicapped, the bindi signifies India. This red spot was made up of a red powder called kumkum. People would display different shapes and sizes of the same, some doing it free hand and some using the copper coin with the round hole in it prevalent in those days for geometric perfection.

Later, stickers called bindis came into vogue. These used to have maroon coloured velvety surface on one side and a non -drying adhesive on the other side. Though dancers and teenagers used glittery, sequined ones to adorn their foreheads, the round, red stickers were more popular with the middle aged people as they came close to the traditional spot of kumkum.

The sticker bindis had one advantage over the traditional powder as they never got smudged. But  our filmwallahs continued to use kumkum on female characters, as  smudged kumkum  was a very handy symbol to indicate a rape victim or a new widow or a bride who has had successful consummation on her bridal night. Thus except for the third one, the smudge had always been associated with undesirable events. As a student of Science and later as a teacher of Science I never believed in this bunkum till I was jolted into confrontating a similar situation.

Ramu had been lying in coma in the hospital for 5 days since Sunday. We had not given up hopes in spite of dire prognostications by the doctors. My sister and I would come home every morning for bath and breakfast. Our kind son-in law would drop our daughter in the hospital to keep the vigil and bring us home and take us back to the hospital in his car after our hurried morning ablutions.

It was the month of March and very hot in Bangalore.

On Friday, I had my bath and was sweating profusely. I was about to light the oil lamps in the Shrine when I remembered that it was the day of routine Lakshmi Pooja. I also discovered that I had forgotten to stick my bindi on without which a Pooja would not be conducted. So I dipped my hand in the kumkum bowl and applied it on my forehead. As I was conducting the Lakshmi ashtottaram Pooja with more kumkum on the idol, sweat was pouring down my face and I had kept wiping it off.

As I came out of the Pooja room my sister gave an almost audible scream and asked me to look at myself in the mirror. I was shocked to see kumkum combined with sweat had spread all over my forehead in a bizarre pattern.

Two days later Ramu breathed his last never surfacing out of his coma.

Was my smudged kumkum a macabre portent or just a coincidence? It was almost as if fate had told me that I would no more have a right to wear one.

Whither my Science and Scientfic temper?!

(picture courtesy Pinterest)









15 thoughts on “BINDI -THE INDIAN RED SPOT

  1. Ur article on bindi is unlike ur usual hilarious ones. I strongly believe that it has nothing to do with or without husbands.As Kamalakka would say kalyanak module kunkumu itkyoru.apru itkandak enna aarna?as far as u r considered, it might be just coincidence.
    Love, Komal.

  2. Srimathi Gopinath says:

    Yes. I also was confused when my husband passed away. But he always used to tell me that we should not get into these superstions as we have to live in this world.

  3. Padmini Prasad_ Bindi is mostly a decorative item on the forehead . To attach anymore significance to it is an extension of your cultural belief and imagination . As you rightly pointed out , the movie industry has had a great influence in exaggerating its connection to the married status of a women . I wonder how God conveys the impending demise of a wife to husband when she is in trouble . Or are you saying that is not important enough ? I would happily support your point of view if only the men also had a symbol on them that indicated their marital status . Besides Bindi wearing is unique to only our religion and culture and that alone should indicate its lack of any greater purpose than ornamental . Not trying to hurt anybody’s sentiments , wear it by all means if you like it . But please do not perpetuate false beliefs as it has no real basis . No women needs to be branded to show the world she is married !
    Like · Reply · Yesterday at 3:24am

  4. Padmini Prasad
    On occasions , I happily use a bindi to complete my traditional attire , without any sentiments and significance attached to it other than to proudly indicate my Indian heritage . I love it and it looks good . Better than tattoos ! Not sure about the generation thing though . I am a grandmother of two lovely girls !
    Vimala Ramu
    That’s a surprise! Well, I am a great grand mother to a one year old moppet. Nice knowing you.

    Sita Raj
    Belief is probably a personal has cosmetic value, wearing, matching binds to saris. I am 84 yrs.

    Padmini Prasad
    Happy to meet all of you on face book ! After all being old enough to be the custodians of our heritage and culture , we should be open minded enough to handle these issues amicably . Thanks

  5. Tara Satyan- Vimmu, read your article’Bindi’. You write so well, Satyan would have really appreciated it and would have been very proud of you.
    Vimala- Thank you, Tara.

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