Literary Yard

Search for meaning

By Vanaja Malathy

An AI-generated image of a woman with a Bindi on her forehead

“There’s a mark on your face.” 

I was on my walk in a beautiful park in Denver, when a four-year-old little girl’s attention drew close to me. The little kid’s tiny finger was pointing to my face

“Can I touch it?” she said. I could guess she was referring to the dot on my face. She felt the small particle of a sticker bindi on my forehead in fascination. She looked at her mother and asked further, “Mom, can I have one?” I looked at the child smilingly. How easy it is for kids to appreciate! How unprejudiced they are! My bindi seemed to have brought a connection between the two of us, total strangers to each other.

A ‘bindi’ is a bright spot or a mark (as the child called it), worn on the centre of the forehead originally by Hindus and Buddhists from the Indian subcontinent. It has a historical and cultural presence in India. It is an auspicious mark worn by young girls and women in India. The name is derived from Bindu, a Sanskrit word for ‘point’ or ‘dot’. Its origin can be found in ancient times. However, it has a special significance even today. 

In a spiritual way Bindi plays an important role in Hindu culture. Men wear it too. There are varieties of Bindis. Tilak is another word used for bindi. There are white, yellow and red and black bindi or tilak. White tilak made of Bhasma, an Ayurvedic mineral, signifies purity, Yellow, made of sandalwood paste or chandan, symbolizes prosperity. The red, the kumkum, made of turmeric, represents valour and the black, made from burnt charcoal, implies service to others. A bindi, thus, evokes a feeling of sanctity in the wearer. 

It is also interesting to note a scientific explanation behind this belief and culture of Hindus. Between our eyebrows a tiny pineal gland lies, which is a part of our endocrine system. This is a magical gland that secretes melatonin, the sleep hormone. It is also known as the third eye. Many spiritual traditions believe it serves as a connection between the physical and spiritual world. The third eye Chakra is considered to be the sixth Chakra in our body. ( Chakra is an energy point in our body) Lord Shiva’s third eye is located at this point, and is believed to be the center of knowledge, intuition, awakening and awareness. Our entire body emanates energy in the form of electromagnetic waves and especially the forehead generates heat and causes mental pressure. When we place a bindi we press it down firmly in place on our forehead. The bindi keeps the gland, the important nerve center, cool. Yoga and meditation identify this and use techniques to focus on this point. The Chinese Acupressure places great stock in this point, for a number of health benefits. 

There are many health benefits of bindi. The bhasma, the chandan, the kumkum used as bindi have wonderful healing powers. 

  • Relieves headaches
  • Clears up sinuses ( the trigeminal nerve passes the forehead area and bindi has the power to stimulate it)
  • Improves vision and eye health ( the supratrochlear nerve is connected to all the muscles around the eyes and passes this area)
  •  Prevents depression (the trigeminal nerve, if stimulated, can cure PTSD)
  • Boosts memory and concentration
  • According to Pranayama, the sixth chakra on the pineal gland is linked with spiritual awareness, wisdom, intellect and understanding.

Of course, today plastic bindi has also become popular among women of all ages, as a beauty mark. But these reusable ‘stick bindis’ are not health beneficial.

Each culture has its own music, literature, festivals, dressing, habits and other special characteristics. When we understand our own culture we will be celebrating and preserving our own heritage. At the same time recognising, respecting and celebrating other cultures allows us to understand how to be an integral part of a community other than ours. Cultural symbols and diverse cultural connections enable us to communicate with people more effectively, beyond words and language. Understanding other races and ethnic groups brings less prejudices and conflicts in the minds of the people. Children should be taught to respect other cultures. Parents and teachers play a great role here. 

Let us all love and respect each other’s to fit well into a global community.


  1. VERY beautiful, Vanaja! Great explanation of your experience as well as connecting back deep into your culture. Keep it Up!

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