Friday, 5 July 2013

Bindi - A Spot of Beauty

Fashion, Modern, Style, Beautiful, Culture, Woman, Model, Girl, Wearing
A bindi in the colours of the Indian flag
(photo by Shankha Subhra Dutta)

BINDI

Noun. Plural bindis. Early 20th century.
[Hindi bindï.]

A decorative mark or jewel worn in the middle of the forehead by Indian women,
especially traditionally married Hindu women.

Despite it being a common sight in Britain, I must admit that I was pretty ignorant as to a bindi's significance until researching it for Lexicolatry. As a child, I remember talking to an Indian woman at a market and asking her with unashamed directness what the red dot on her forehead was for. Her answer, that it was a Hindu symbol of wisdom, is the explanation I've carried with me into adulthood.

Asia, Culture, Child, Hindu,
"A Girl on the Ghats in Varanasi"
(photo by Lars-Gunnar Svärd)
However, it seems that the bindi has numerous meanings and applications. It might not be a red dot, for example, but could be a jewel or some other decoration for the forehead. Some of its religious connotations include representing 'the third eye', being a protection for both the wearer and her family and being a mark to honour a woman's intellect. Depending on the region, it is worn by married and unmarried women and can also be worn by men and children. To the wearer, it might have no religious significance at all, being purely decorative in nature, and as the influence of Indian art, music and fashion continues to spread, it's not uncommon to see Westerners donning a bindi for purely aesthetic reasons.

Elderly, Hindu, India, Style, Clothes
A woman from Raikhad
(photo by Meena Kadri)
If you wear or have worn a bindi, or have anything else you'd like to say, do please leave a comment below.

18 comments:

  1. Is there as much controversy over a Bindi as there is over a Burqa, mewonders?

    -clueless

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's an interesting question, C, as I know some businesses and workplaces put an outright ban on the display of religious symbols such as crosses. If someone claimed their bindi was religious, it would fall foul of that rule; if they said it wasn't, they would nullify the objection of it being part of their religious beliefs. I know in Britain, however, a woman recently won a court case against her employer that asked her to stop wearing a cross to work, so maybe the precedent has been set. Generally, however, the burqa is more controversial on many points. Oh, that's a BU- word ... I'll probably be covering (no pun) burqa when I get to it.

      Delete
  2. I've always wondered about the red dot, thinking it was something religious, but never being quite certain of it. I'm glad you chose to elaborate on this word :) (the woman in the last picture is gorgeous, by the way, such a pretty smile!)

    RYC: Yep, that's what I was thinking! He had a very pretty handwriting, for a man, which definitely said something about his personality :) And from the content of his letter I could tell this was a sensitive guy. Other's might say the things he wrote sound a bit melodramatic and mushy, but I loved it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You know, Bibi, with no other post have I had such a selection of beautiful photographs to choose from. I've chosen my three favourites, three that I think show the bindi in different ways, but I had found tens and tens that I could have picked. If you ever have ten minutes, follow the photograpers' links and have a look at their other picture - they're absolutely beautiful.

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    2. I've done so on many occasions, here on your blog. You have a knack for finding great pictures to accompany your posts. :)

      RYC: I studied English for four years in secondary school... You should feel ashamed of yourself.

      Delete
  3. I always learn something new reading your blog, Ed. I'm rather thankful you stumbled across mine somehow. Without that, I never would have "met" you, Evi, or Bibi!
    Thanks, Ed - for both educating me and connecting me with new people! I love it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's part of what's so great about blogs - connecting with interesting people from all over the world. And thank you, Kara - I really appreciate that you enjoy the blog : o )

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