MAY 2012/FEBRUARY 2013



Certain sections of Indians, both men and women, sport marks on their foreheads. They are known by different names in the different languages and different geographical regions of the country.

For simplicity, I shall use the terms “Bindi” and “Tilak” in this article for the marks applied on the foreheads of Indian women and men respectively.

Do these marks have ritual significance? Or are they cultural vestiges of religious rituals? Or both?

Our research shows that Muslims and Sikhs do not apply such marks on their foreheads.

Protestant Christians, especially Pentecostals, abhor them. The marks are ritually applied during ceremonies of a religious nature by Hindus, by followers of Jainism and Buddhism which in India are considered as sub-sects of Hinduism, and by Catholic converts from Hinduism.

But, in recent years, the use of the tilak has emerged in Catholic liturgies across India, riding piggy-back on the arati, the waving of a flame around a person or object during a religious ritual. We have compiled information on the bindi and tilak in this article; the consensus is that it is a sacred HINDU mark. Separate articles on the arati and the use of vibhuti [sacred ash, bhasma] will follow shortly.

Hindu symbols [Religion Facts – Hinduism]

A variety of Hindu symbols are used in art, sacred objects and ritual. They usually signify Hindu concepts, the attributes of deities, or the gods or goddesses themselves.


Linga Lotus
Trishula Yantra

For detailed information on Hindu symbols, see,

Hindu symbols

Here is an overview of a few important Hindu symbols. Together they are powerful and the basis of the faith itself. They are not necessarily directly connected, but because they are all part of the Hindu faith they are part of the whole.

Bindi: The Bindi is a dot worn on the forehead right above the nose. It is a type of Tilak. Married Hindu women traditionally wear the Bindi. It symbolizes the energy of women and is said to protect her and her spouse from evil. However, today, it has less of a religious meaning and has a more decorative connotation. Now, unmarried girls are wearing elaborate Bindis as form of jewelry. This is just an example of the changing times.


Tilak: This symbol is very similar to the Bindi. It is a mark on the forehead. The Tilak for a man is a straight line and a dot for a woman. The slight differences in lines or dots help distinguish between the different sects of Hinduism. The Tilak is made out of clay or ash, which give many of them a reddish color. The Tilak is applied everyday to very serious Hindus. All Hindus wear a Tilak whenever they visit a temple (even non-Hindus are given one when they visit a temple) and on special religions ceremonies (weddings). The mixture that the Tilak is made from cools the forehead and helps mediation for it makes one more focused.

What do the red dot on a women’s forehead and the Tilak on a man’s forehead signify? November 2004

Q: I know about the red dot on an Indian woman’s forehead, but I have recently seen men with the red marking on their forehead, too, and understand this is called a ‘Tilak’. But why would a man wear this mark? Diane

A1: In Hindu spirituality the 6th sense or the third eye has an important role. The location of the third eye is in between the eyes where you see a tilak or a bindi. Having a tilak help you focus your energies though you also need tremendous mind control for that. That is why in ancient Hindu custom, Tilak is worn by most learned of people who have done meditation and penance for years. DeshPutra [Hindu]

A2: Good question. The traditional bindi, or tilak, is worn on the forehead between and slightly above the eyes. This is traditionally viewed to be the ‘seat of wisdom’, and most likely a reference to the third eye. Peter

A3: To answer your question as an Indian, in Hinduism, we believe that one of our Gods, Lord Shiva possesses a third eye. This is located in the region between our eyebrows or a little above. If one is very traditional or religious, then that person puts on a black or white tilak or bindi. In some cases, the type of tilak even shows what brand of Hinduism you follow; this though is not always the case though.

On a different track, some people believe that putting on a sandalwood tilak in summer, cools your body and use it for that reason.
In India, the tilak is used by almost all women for its decorative value. Think of it as an extension of your makeup. There are a variety of peel-off-and-stick tilaks that are available and one generally matches the color of your clothes to the tilak or bindi that you wear.

Finally to conclude, I have to tell u that even in India, most men do not wear tilaks. It is usually only the most traditional or religious men who do so. Monica [Hindu]

A4: Alright well this will probably be more in depth than you had wanted but regarding dots there are several things that must be addressed:
Indian women don’t wear dots. Hindu women do. Remember that Indians can be Muslim, Christian, Hindu and many other religions (including Jewish). The dot that Hindu women wear is called a bindi and they don’t have to be red. These days they come in various colors, shapes, and sizes. They can be bought as stickers or painted on.
Bindi is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘bindu’ or drop. Its origin is a bit misty but there are several variations out there but some believe it represents your mystic third eye and is a central point of creation itself.
Hindu Priests: Some sects of Hindu priests wear markings on their foreheads. You can tell what sect they belong to based on the markings on their foreheads.

Tilak and Tika: I’m pretty sure that a tilak is the same thing as a tika. Tikas are given to both men and women for auspicious occasions or when they go to temple. For example, on Diwali [festival of lights] or before we go on a big trip … my mother, grandmother … gives my brother and I [I’m a girl] tika. It’s sort of a way to remember that God is with you and will protect you. The mark is made of a red powder mixed with water which is marked on the forehead with either the thumb or ring finger and then several grains of rice are placed on it.
Naeha [Hindu]

A5: The red dot or ‘bindi’ is commonly found on an Indian woman’s forehead and is more ornamental. The common explanation might be that a married woman wears one. You will find a lot of women who are married who don’t wear one.
The ’tilak’ on the other hand is more of a religious mark (and both men and women wear it) … The ’tilak’ is worn (just before or) after a prayer. The ’tilak’ on a woman’s forehead might be shielded by the fact she already has a red ‘bindi’.
For example, if were to visit a Hindu temple and went up to the sanctum, you’d notice the priest apply the mark (’tilak’) on everyone’s forehead.
Srikant [Hindu]

A6: You are right that it is called tilak, which is different than the red dot worn by a woman. The red dot on a woman’s forehead is called ‘bindi’ and signifies that she is married (only if red) and is a replacement for what is called kumkum, which was and still is a red line that many women apply to the part of their hair, also to signify that they are married. This kumkum tradition was also a replacement for an earlier tradition in which, when a warrior defeated other warriors for the hand of a lady, he would smear the blood of the defeated party on the part of her hair, to signify that he had won her as his wife. The tradition of the red dot is supposed to warn men not to cast lustful glances upon a married woman, which is a sure way for the married woman to cut down on unwanted come-ons.
Tilak is altogether different. It has more to do with the spiritual school that one follows and can be worn by men or women. Some tilak is red, which normally indicates that the person is a worshipper of Shakti or Durga, the mother (demi-) goddess. Another form of tilak with 3 horizontal lines on the forehead made from sandalwood paste indicates that one is a worshipper of Siva, one of the primary demigods of India. Another form of tilak is a U-shaped talk drawn between the brows, and includes an upside ‘Ace of spades’ shape on the nose. This indicates that one is a devotee of Lord Krishna, or God.
Ed Keenan 2.

The dot on an Indian’s forehead originates from Hindu mythology, symbolizing the third eye of Lord Shiva. He is one of Gods in the Hindu theological trinity (Brahma-Creator, Vishnu-Sustainer, Shiva-Destroyer). While it would be easier to see women wearing the ‘Bindi’ on a daily basis, men mostly reserve them for special occasions, especially religious ones. Modern interpretation has allowed the ‘Bindi’ to evolve into a designer accessory, worn by women of all religious orientations in India. The more traditional red smear at the hairline at the top of the forehead is a dead giveaway that the woman is married! Anit Kurian [Indian]

A8: Hindu tradition holds that all people have three eyes; the two outer eyes see the outside world while the third focuses inward. Men usually wear a tilak to signify this third eye during an important occasion – worship, marriage, festivals, embarking on a journey, etc. Anna

A9: Dear Diane,
I will be more than happy to answer that question. I am Indian, more precisely a South Indian. The red mark you talk of is a powder called ‘kumkum’ which is applied by both men and women, but mainly women. If you have seen a man wearing one it would be under the following two circumstances,
1. It might be a very religious or auspicious day and for that reason he is wearing it, i.e.: for a prayer in which both men and women wear kumkum
2. In south India, the main caste is Brahmin. Brahmins are pure vegetarians and religion is a main part of their lives. It is common in South India for men to wear kumkum, especially Priests in temples. I would highly recommend that you visit a temple or to go talk to a south Indian man/woman and visit a temple with them. I am sure you will learn a lot from your experience. If you have any further questions, please do feel free to e-mail me. Thanks. Gary. P [Hindu]

A10: That red mark is ‘sindhoor’ a red powder that the Pundit (Hindu priest) applies during religious ceremonies. It’s like being blessed. It is given to men and women alike. I think you are confusing tilak, which is given by the Hindu priest to both men and women, with the decorative ‘bindi’, which is a small sticker that women wear on their forehead, for fashion. They are two different substances, for different purposes. Birdland

A11: The red dot – or Tilak is not gender specific. It is actually a symbolic third eye. Hindus usually get it put on by the high priest or even their mother or old person after a prayer session – ‘Puja’. In simplistic terms it means: ‘may god grant you your desires and may you be blessed with foresight and uncommon vision to see your way around all the obstacles that may darken your path.’ Daryl

Youth Conference 2012: Swami Vivekananda’s Message of Sustainable Living

Manifest the divinity within you and everything will be harmoniously arranged around it.” Swami Vivekananda

April 11, 2012

In the timeless Hindu tradition, each teacher was honored with a tilak of roli (red powder) and chawal (rice) acknowledging the divinity present in them and given flowers and a gift of a book.


Tikka (forehead mark), a mark made on the forehead by Hindu Indians (also spelled Tilaka or Teeka or Teekka)

Tilak [Understanding Hinduism]

By Swami Shivananda, Divine Life Society, Rishikesh
Tilak is a mark of auspiciousness. It is put on the forehead with sandal paste, sacred ashes or kumkum (red turmeric). The devotees of Siva apply sacred ashes (Bhasma) on the forehead, the devotees of Vishnu apply sandal paste (Chandan), and the worshippers of Devi or Shakti apply Kumkum, a red turmeric powder.

The scriptures say: ‘A forehead without a Tilak, a woman without a husband, a Mantra the meaning of which is not known while doing Japa (recitation), the head that does not bend before holy personages, a heart without mercy, a house without a well, a village without a temple, a country without a river, a society without a leader, wealth that is not given away in charity, a preceptor without a disciple, a country without justice, a king without an able minister, a woman not obedient to her husband, a well without water, a flower without smell, a soul devoid of holiness, a field without rains, an intellect without clearness, a disciple who does not consider his preceptor as a form of God, a body devoid of health, a custom (achar) without purity, austerity devoid of fellow-feeling, speech in which truth is not the basis, a country without good people, work without wages, Sannyasa without renunciation, legs that have not performed pilgrimages, determination unaided by Viveka or discrimination, a knife which is blunt, a cow that does not give milk, a spear without a point- all these are worthy of condemnation. They exist for name’s sake only.’
From this you can imagine the importance of Tilak or the sacred mark.

Tilak is applied at the Ajna Chakra, the space between the two eyebrows. It has a very cooling effect. Application of sandal paste has great medicinal value, apart from the spiritual influence. Application of sandal paste will nullify the heating effect when you concentrate and meditate at the Bhrumadhya. Tilak indicates the point at which the spiritual eye opens. Lord Siva has a third eye at the Brumadhya. When he opens the third eye, the three worlds are destroyed. 3.

Tilak [Religion Facts – Hinduism]

The tilak
(Sanskrit tilaka, “mark”) is a mark made on a Hindu’s forehead
. On a man, the tilak takes the form of a line or lines and usually indicates his sectarian affiliation.

On women, a tilak usually takes the form of a bindi dot, which has its own symbolism.

The tilak is worn every day by sadhus and pious householders, and on special occasions like weddings and religious rituals.

A tilak is also applied by a priest during a visit to the temple as a sign of the deity’s blessing, for both men and women (and western tourists, too).

Tilak marks are applied by hand or with a metal stamp. They might be made of ash from a sacrificial fire, sandalwood paste, turmeric, cow dung, clay, charcoal, or red lead. In addition to its religious symbolism, the tilak has a cooling effect on the forehead and this can assist in concentration and meditation.

Among some sects the tilak is made on 2, 5, 12, or 32 parts of the body as well as on the forehead. Often a tilak is just a smear of paste, but other times it is more precise and elaborate.

Saivites (followers of Shiva) wear a tilak of three horizontal lines across the forehead, with or without a red dot. Sometimes a crescent moon or trident is included. The devotees of Shiva usually use sacred ashes (Bhasma) for the tilak.

Among Vaishnavites (followers of Vishnu), the many tilak variations usually include two or more vertical lines resembling the letter U, which symbolizes the foot of Vishnu. There is sometimes a central line or dot. Most Vaishnavite tilaks are made of sandalwood paste (Chandan).

The worshippers of the goddess Devi or Shakti apply kumkum, a red turmeric powder.


1. “Tilak.” Encyclopædia Britannica (2007). Encyclopædia Britannica Online.

2. “Tilak.” Swami Shivananda,


In Hinduism, the tilaka, tilak or tika (Sanskrit: तिलक tilaka; Hindustani pronunciation: [t̪ɪˈlək] tilak) is a mark worn on the forehead and other parts of the body. Tilaka may be worn on a daily basis or for special religious occasions only, depending on different customs.

Significance of tilaka

The tilaka symbolizes the third eye, or mind’s eye, associated with many Hindu deities, and the idea of meditation and spiritual enlightenment. The red dot or “Tika” represents the third eye. In the past, tilakas were usually worn by gods, priests, ascetics, or worshippers, but is now a common practice for most Hindus. It can express which Hindu tradition one follows. It may be made with sandalwood paste, ashes (vibhuti), kumkum, sindhoor, clay, or other substances. The pastes are applied to the forehead and in some cases to the upper part of the head.

History and evolution of the Tilak

The tilak is a mark created by the smearing of powder or paste on the forehead. Occasionally it extends vertically and horizontally on a large part of the forehead and may cover the nose also. The most conspicuous and widespread tilakas are those worn by Vaishnavites [the followers of Lord Vishnu]. The Vaishnava tilak consists of a long line starting from just below the hairline to almost the end of one’s nose tip. It is intercepted in the middle by an elongated U. There may be two marks on the temples as well. This tilak is traditionally made with sandalwood paste.

The other major tilak variant is often worn by the followers of Lord Shiva and the different forms of Devi Shakti. It consists of three horizontal bands across the forehead with a single vertical band or circle in the middle. This is traditionally done with sacred ash from fire sacrifices. This variant is the more ancient of the two and shares many common aspect with similar markings worn across the world. Many worshippers of Shakti will wear a rectangular mark of kumkum on the forehead, especially South Indians or those of South Indian descent.

Tilak based upon caste system

Based upon the Hindu caste system and Vedic texts, there are four types of tilaka:

Brahman [sic] tilak – Urdhapundra – marking of two vertical lines on forehead (now it is more of a U-shaped tilak.)

Kshatriya tilak – Ardhachandra – half moon tilak, with a bindi or circular mark in middle of the half arc

Vaishya tilak – Tripundra – three arc-like vertical lines on the forehead with a circular mark on top of it

Shudra tilak – Partal – large circular mark on forehead

Tilak based on religion

Different Hindu traditions use different materials and shapes to make the tilaka:

Saivites typically use vibhuti in three horizontal lines across the forehead. A bindu of sandalwood paste with a dot of kumkum in the centre is often worn with the vibhuti (tripundra).

Vaishnavas apply clay from a holy river or place (such as Vrindavan or the Yamuna river) which is sometimes mixed with sandalwood paste. They apply the material in two vertical lines, which may be connected at the bottom, forming either a simple U shape or with an additional marking in the shape of a tulsi leaf. Their tilaka is called the Urdhva Pundra tilak.

Ganapatya use red sandal paste (rakta candana).

Shaktas use kumkuma, or powdered red turmeric. They draw one vertical line or dot.


Honorary tilakas (Raj tilak and Vir tilak are usually applied as a single vertical red line. Raj tilak will be used while enthroning kings or inviting prominent personalities. Vir tilak is used to anoint victors or leaders after a war or a game.

Swaminarayan tilak is U-shaped in the middle of forehead along with the red dot in the middle of U (known as chandlo).

Types of tilak

Vijayshree – white tilak urdhwapundra with a white line in the middle, founded by Swami Balanand of Jaipur

Bendi tilak – white tilak urdhwapundra with a white round mark in the middle, founded by Swami Ramprasad Acharya of Badasthan Ayodhya.

Chaturbhuji tilak – white tilak urdhwapundra with the upper portion turned 90 degrees in the opposite direction, no shri in the middle, founded by Narayandasji of Bihar, ascetics of Swarg Dwar of Ayodhya follow it.

Sri Tilak of Rewasa Gaddi

Ramcharandas Tilak

Srijiwaram ka Tilak

Sri Janakraj Kishori Sharan Rasik Aliji ka Tilak

Sri Rupkalajee ka Tilak

Rupsarasji ka Tilak

Ramsakheeji ka Tilak

Kamnendu Mani ka Tilak

Karunsindhuji ka Tilak

Swaminarayan Tilak

Nimbark ka Tilak

Madhwa ka Tilak

Relationship to bindi

The terms tilaka and bindi overlap somewhat, but are definitely not synonymous. Among the differences:

A tilaka is always applied with paste or powder, whereas a bindi may be paste, a sticker, or even jewelry.

A tilaka is usually applied for religious or spiritual reasons, or to honor a personage, event, or victory. A bindi can signify marriage, or be simply for decorative purposes.

A bindi is worn only between the eyes, whereas a tilaka can also cover the face or other parts of the body. Tilak can be applied to twelve parts of the body: head, forehead, neck, both upper-arms, both forearms, chest, both sides of the torso, stomach and shoulder.

Bindi is a Hindi term, whereas tilaka applies to the entire Indian subcontinent.


Tilak, Sanskrit tilaka (“mark”), in Hinduism, a mark, generally made on the forehead, indicating a person’s sectarian affiliation. The marks are made by hand or with a metal stamp, using ash from a sacrificial fire, sandalwood paste, turmeric, cow dung, clay, charcoal, or red lead. Among some sects the mark is made on 2, 5, 12, or 32 parts of the body as well as on the forehead. Among Shaivas (followers of Shiva), the tilak usually takes the form of three horizontal parallel lines across the forehead, with or without a red dot. Sometimes a crescent moon or trident denotes a Shaiva. Among Vaishnavas (followers of Vishnu), the many tilak variations follow a general pattern of two or more vertical lines resembling the letter U and representing the foot of Vishnu, with or without a central line or dot.

Marks worn by women on the forehead (most commonly a red dot for unwidowed women) may indicate sect affiliation, but more frequently they vary according to the fashion prevailing in a particular part of India.

Tilaka in Hinduism – Tilak

In Hinduism, Tilaka, also spelled Tilak or Tilakam, is a mark worn on the forehead and other parts of the body.
An obvious symbol of the Hindu religion, Tilaka assumes much religious significance. Tilak is prepared with sandalwood paste, ashes (vibhuti), vermilion (kumkum), sindhoor (powdered red lead) and clay and applied by various members of Hindu sects and sub-sects. Tilaka (Hindu head markings) does not have any specific shape and form and may be worn on a daily basis or for special religious occasions. Hindu women wear red mark of vermilion on the hair parting, as a sign of their marital status. While the Tilaka worn by a worshipper or a priest shows their passion towards Hindu traditions. The marks appear in white, red, yellow or black colors. Tilaka is a Sanskrit word; it is called Tilak in Hindi and in Bihar and Nepal, it is known as Tika. The custom of using the Tilaka has been practiced from ancient times in India.
Types of Tilaka marks
Vertical mark of the Vaishnavas – Vaishnava Tilak
Vaishnava tilak is the Tilaka worn by Vaishnavites or followers of Lord Vishnu and his incarnation, Lord Krishna, is the most extensive. Vaishnava tilaka mark is a long line starting from just below the hairline till the end of the nose tip and is intercepted in the middle by a lengthy U. This comes in red, yellow, white or saffron in color and is made up of red ochre powder (Sindhura) and sandalwood paste (Gandha). This Tilaka is praised in Hindu texts for its purity.

Horizontal lines of the Shaivites


Shaivite Tilak is another important Tilak, worn by the followers of Lord Shiva and Goddess Shakti. It is drawn as three horizontal lines across the forehead with a single vertical band or circle in the middle. This Tilaka is made of ash emerging from burned wood, cow dung or incense. According to legends, Shiva smeared his body with ash taken from cremation sites, and hence, Shaivites mark their bodies with holy ash.

General Tilaka
In addition to the Tilaka worn by priests, an ordinary Tilaka is applied by the members during a puja or while visiting temples. It is believed that the two eyes given by God is to see the physical world and the red dot Tilaka symbolizes third eye or soul’s eye for seeing spiritual reality.

Some apply Tilaka for personal perseverance. It is applied to the body in twelve places such as the forehead, belly, the chest, the neck, two shoulders, two arms, right and left bellies and upper and lower back.

Why do Hindus Wear Marks on the Forehead like Tika or Tilak?

A devote [sic] Hindu draws a mark on the forehead known as Tika or Tilak or Tilakam or Pottu. The wearing of a mark on the forehead is a unique feature associated with Hinduism.

There are no strict common rules regarding the drawing of mark on the forehead in Hindu religion. Basically, the wearing of Tika invokes a feeling of sacredness on the wearer and on the people with whom the wearer comes into contact.

Tilak, or Tika, is also a religious symbol and they reveal the particular God worshipped by the wearer.

Worshippers of Lord Vishnu wear a Chandan (sandalwood paste) Tilak of the shape of “U”. Vertical lines usually represent Vaishnava devotees.

Lord Shiva worshippers apply a three horizontal line bhasma or sacred ash. Horizontal lines represent Shaiva devotees

Worshippers of Devi or the female goddess apply a red dot of kumkum.

A red tika is widely applied during pujas on devotees by priests.

Usually, the Tilak is applied on the forehead between the eyebrows. This spot is known as Ajna Chakra and is considered to be the seat of memory and thinking.

It is also said that the chandan or bhasma cools the forehead and the spot between the eyebrows, which is known to generate heat during stress and tension. It is also known to prevent energy loss.

The most famous Indian mark on the forehead is the Bindu or Bindi worn by females and it has no real religious significance and is part of makeup. The red dot applied on the top of the forehead (near the hair) is the mark of a married female.

Talking about the Tilak–Preaching about the Point

By Late Shri Motilal Butani

During meditation, people focus their eyesight on the tip of their nose or at the centre of their eyebrows. While performing this act of concentration, a sort of energy is released between the eyebrows, which results in a pressure. Bindu helps increase one’s concentration, reducing this pressure and further preventing radiation of energy from outside.

Bindu, a point, which is although a dimensionless entity mathematically, is a symbol of auspiciousness, all-seeing wisdom and awareness of the divine. It is meant for people of all ages. Men apply or have it applied on ceremonial occasions. It is a true and auspicious ornament of ladies of all ages, be they married, unmarried, divorced or widowed, although at one time social customs did not permit widows to wear it. The application of a Bindu should be considered as a ‘sacred spiritual ritual.’
A Bindu also is a testimony of our ancient Vedic wisdom. In fact, no Puja or auspicious occasion, such as marriage is performed without having bindi applied on the forehead of all those involved.

This is because you are actually meeting with Shiva’s third eye, which is good for the seer, and one’s evil thoughts evaporate for the time being just by seeing the Bindi.

The ‘third eye’ or the ‘single eye’ is the mystical eye in the forehead. It is called the ‘all-seeing eye of God’. Study of the chakra (energy) system shows that there are seven charkas in our body. The sixth chakra is located at the third eye in the centre of the forehead where we apply tilak. It governs the brain, the nervous system, the ears, the nose and the left eye, which is considered to be the eye of the personality. It is very important, because it is through this centre that we understand our spiritual nature. It is seen as the colour indigo, a vibrant combination of the red and blue.

What makes a Bindi extremely significant is its place on the face, which is a mirror of the soul. By wearing Bindi or Kumkum between the eyebrows, one is recognizing as well as representing the existence and the spirit of the Divine Mother of the Universe.

Further, in this area just above the nose on the forehead, called Bhrukuti in Sanskrit, is the
Ajna Chakra (Kutasha Caitanya – clear consciousness). It represents intelligence, conscience, mind intellect, spiritual devotion and austerity. It is also the centre of decision-making. By wearing bindu everyday we symbolically activate this chakra (energy) in us. This sixth chakra, abode of bindi, is the only chakra exposed to or seen by other people. For this reason along with many others, it is given special significance.

Why Indian people wear marks on forehead?

March 21, 2009 6.

The dot or bindi also known as ‘tika’, ‘pottu’, ‘sindoor’, ’tilak’, ’tilakam’, ‘bindiya’, ‘kumkum’ and by other names. Pronounced as ‘Bin Dee’, the word bindi is derived from the Sanskrit word bindu, which means “drop”. Bindi is an auspicious ornamental mark worn by Hindu girls and women on their forehead between the two eyes. Bindi is arguably the most visually fascinating in all form of body decoration. More than a beauty spot, the manga tika (bindi) indicates good omen and purity.
Traditionally Bindi is a symbol of marriage, very similar to western wedding bands. A red dot on the forehead is an auspicious sign of marriage and guarantees the social status and sanctity of the institution of marriage. Bindi were worn by married women in North India in the form of a little red dot. It denotes the woman’s married status in most of the North Indian communities but in South India it is a prerogative of all girls to wear a bindi.

The bridegroom’s make-up is incomplete without Tilak; it is applied on the groom’s forehead during the wedding ceremony. No festival or puja is complete without the tilak and sindoor. Red was chosen because that color was supposed to bring good fortune into the home of the bride. The red mark made the bride the preserver of the family’s honor and welfare. Over time, it has become a fashion accessory and is worn today by unmarried girls and women of other religions as well. No longer restricted in color or shape, bindis today are seen in many colors & designs and are manufactured with self-adhesives & felt.
The very positioning of the bindi is significant. The bindi is always worn on in the middle of the eyebrows; this is believed to be the most important pressure point of the human body. This point is known by various names such as Ajna chakra, spiritual eye. Third eye meaning ‘command’ is the seat of concealed wisdom. It is the centre point wherein all experience is gathered in total concentration. According to the tantric cult, when during meditation the latent energy rises from the base of the spine towards the head, this ‘ajna’ is the probable outlet for this potent energy. The red ‘kumkum’ between the eyebrows is said to retain energy in the human body and control the various levels of concentration. It is also the central point of the base of the creation itself — symbolising auspiciousness and good fortune.
<<Most religious Indians, especially married women wear a tilak or pottu on the forehead. It is applied daily after the bath and on special occasions, before or after ritualistic worship or visit to the temple. In many communities, it is enjoined upon married women to sport a kumkum on their foreheads at all times. The orthodox put it on with due rituals. The tilak is applied on saints and images of the Lord as a form of worship and in many parts of North India as a respectful form of welcome, to honour guests or when bidding farewell to a son or husband about to embark on an journey. The tilak varies in colour and form. This custom was not prevalent in the Vedic period. It gained popularity in the Puranic period. Some believe that it originated in South India.
The tilak or pottu invokes a feeling of sanctity in the wearer and others. It is recognized as a religious mark.

It form and colour vary according to one’s caste, religious sect or the form of the Lord worshiped.
In earlier times, the four castes (based on varna or color) – Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Sudra – applied marks differently. The Brahmin applied a white chandan (sandalwood paste) 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 the warrior races. The Vaishya wore yellow kesar or turmeric mark signifying prosperity as he was a business man or trader devoted to creation of wealth. The Sudra applied a black bhasma, kasturi or charcoal mark signifying service as he supports the work of the other three divisions. Also Lord Vishnu worshipers apply a chandan tilak of the shape of “U”, Lord Shiva worshipers applied a tripundra bhasma, Devi worshippers applied red dot of kumkum.
The chandan, kumkum or bhasma which is offered to the Lord is taken back as prasad and applied on foreheads. The tilak covers the spot between the eye brows, which the seat of memory and thinking. It is known as the ajna chakra in the language of yoga. The tilak is applied with the prayer – “May I remember the Lord. May this pious feeling pervade all my activities. May I be righteous in my deeds”. Even when we temporarily forget this prayerful attitude the mark on another reminds us of our resolve. The tilak is thus a blessing of the Lord and protection against wrong tendencies and forces.
The entire body emanates energy in the form of electro-magnetic waves – the forehead and the subtle spot between the eye brows especially so. That is why worry generates heat and causes a headache. The tilak or pottu 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 the past few decades, not only married women have taken up this beautiful accessory. Girls of all ages enjoy wearing a variety of styles and colors. Today, the bindi is more about the mood and occasion. They are often matched with the color clothing a person is wearing. Today, bindi is more of a fashion statement than anything else, and the number of young performers sporting bindis is overwhelming even in the West.

NOTE: The section within << >> is also in the booklet “In Indian Culture, Why Do We…” by Swami Vimalananda and Radhika Krishnakumar, Central Chinmaya Mission Trust, 2002, pages 16-19.

Traditions and Customs from all over the world

By Mislav Popovic


Bindi comes from Sanskrit word bindu meaning “a drop, a small particle”. Bindi is a forehead decoration worn by women in India. Depending on the language different names are used for bindi. Pottu is used in Tamil and Malayalam, Tilak in Hindi, Bottu or Tilakam in Telugu, Bottu or Tilaka in Kannada and Teep (“a pressing”) in Bengali.

Usually the women having bindi are married. Still, there are single women and even children who have bindi.


The part of forehead where there is bindi is believed to be the sixth chakra, ajna, the place of “concealed wisdom.” This chakra is the exit point for kundalini energy. As to the belief, the bindi retains energy and strengthens concentration.

Bindi is usually a red coloured dot. But it can be made in other colours like yellow, orange and so on. Shape and size of bindi vary too. Instead of a traditional dot a piece of jewelry can also be worn.

Bindi is made of red sindoor or vermilion powder. Vermilion (or sometimes vermillion) is an orange-red pigment which is traditionally derived from the powdered mineral cinnabar.

If the woman has both bindi and a vermillion mark on the parting-line of hair (also called mang) just above the forehead, it a sign that she is married.

In some cases bindi is also made of kumkum. Kumkum is a powder made of turmeric (curcuma longa) or saffron. The turmeric powder mixed with a bit of lime changes its rich yellow colour into a red one.

Forehead marks are worn by some Indian men too. But they do not have the meaning of those worn by women. They can be worn on a daily basis but most of can be seen on men during different religious festivities. They differ according to the caste system. There are – Brahman Tilak (Urdhapundra), Kshatriya Tilak (Tripundra), Vaishya Tilak (Ardhachandra) and Shudra Tilak (Partal).

Hindu Rites, Rituals, Customs and Traditions

Authenticated by Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas, Smritis, Darshanas and other ancient Hindu Holy Scriptures

Pustak Mahal, January 2006, pages 261, 262

Why is tilak applied on the forehead in a religious ceremony?

A tilak is an ornamental or religious mark on the forehead, also called tika. According to Hindu religious texts, applying tilak or tika is necessary at all religious ceremonies, without which no Hindu ceremony is complete. From birth till death, tilak is a part of life. All gods, goddesses, yogis, saints, sages and mahatmas apply tilak on their forehead. Some householders also apply tilak daily, although generally it is customary to apply tilak at the beginning of the religious ceremony. According to tradition, applying tilak is a symbol of honour being extended to the person. Guests are welcomed or seen off with tilak. Even when householders leave on long travel or pilgrimage, they are seen off with tilak and good wishes.

In the Brahmvaivartpuran, Brahmparv, 26, it is said,

If tilak is not adorned on the forehead at the time of a holy bath, yagya, prayer or religious ceremony, the effort bears no fruit. The Brahmin priest must have a tilak when performing prayers, tarpan and other ceremonies.

The Skandpuran explains with what fingers tilak must be applied for best results:

When tilak is applied with the ring finger it brings peace, with the middle finger it prolongs age, with the thumb it promotes health, and with the forefinger one attains salvation.

It is customary to apply tilak on the entire forehead with three fingers. Devotees of Vishnu use a tilak of two thin upward lines, devotees of Shakti (Shakti and Shiva) use two dots, and devotees of Shiva use three horizontal lines. Some religious texts suggest that those using a tilak of three horizontal lines during shraddh, yagya, meditation or prayers overcome death.

The tilak, tika or bindiya (for women) is applied in the centre of the forehead because the entire body is controlled from this point. Maharishi Yagyavalka said that this position is appropriate because Siva’s third eye is located here. After the application of tilak, pure thoughts are said to emerge.

The conscious and subconscious minds are located here and a constant flow of thoughts and activities affects the whole body. These can make a person a god or a demon, wise or foolish. A person’s sixth sense or the third eye is located here. Applying tilak here prepares a person for the upward spiritual movement to salvation.

The soul is also said to reside in this region. Applying tilak ensures a person always feels cool, comfortable and peaceful, and does not suffer from headaches and is self-confident. A mentally tranquil person is better able to follow the right path and take better decisions.

It is customary to use sandalwood, kumkum (vermilion), clay or ash from yagya for applying tilak. Saffron is used on special occasions. Sandalwood absolves one’s sins, attracts prosperity and protects one from obstacles. It promotes wisdom and keeps the mind cool and peaceful. A mixture of kumkum and turmeric is germicidal and keeps the skin healthy, while helping the sinews and ligaments function naturally. Pure clay or soil helps destroy infectious germs. The use of ash from a yagya brings good fortune.


While there may be germicidal properties in some of the compounds used for the tilak or bindi, it is difficult to imagine a small dot or a couple of lines on the forehead having the extensive beneficial physical impact that is claimed. More seriously, Christians must remember that the authors of this book are authenticating their statements, at least most of them, from Hindu religious texts. Therefore, as far the Christian is concerned, the supposed spiritual benefits of the application of the tilak and the bindi must be rejected. Not only is there no mention of the requisite repentance for sin when promising salvation by use of the Hindu sacred mark, the explanations are [I repeat again, as far as the Christian is concerned] a mixture of non-science, superstition and the occult. The use of the bindi/tilak is without any doubt a Hindu scripture-based religious ritual.


A Popular Dictionary of Hinduism

Karel Werner, Curzon Press, 1994, pages 44, 159, 160

Bindu: Dot, drop, globule; in philosophy: the metaphysical point out of time and space where the absolute and the phenomenal meet, which is experienced in some types of samadhi; the sacred mark made on the forehead, symbolizing the third eye (the eye of wisdom); in the Tantras: semen, Siva’s semen, the essence of life and the symbol of the nectar of immortality; the symbol of Brahman, the essence of all reality.

A sectarian mark on the forehead of a follower. It is likely to have developed from the traditional sacred mark made on the forehead, symbolizing the third eye (the eye of wisdom, see bindu). There are many elaborate marks made by sectarian sadhus, but generally those containing vertical lines indicate Visnuite and those with horizontal lines Saivite allegiance. The rarely seen marks containing a triangle and a circle might once have indicated an allegiance to Brahma, but would nowadays mean acceptance by the bearer of the whole Trimurti.

Sakta sects use the svastika.

Institution of Marriage EXTRACT

At the entrance of the hall, the threshold ceremony is performed. The officiating priest chants a few mantras of blessings and welcome. The threshold ceremony requires the bride’s mother to receive and bless the groom with rice, red turmeric powder (kumkum) etc., by applying tilak (red dot and uncooked rice) on the groom’s forehead.

Tilak or Bindi

The Tilaka is normally a vermilion mark applied on the forehead. This mark has a religious significance and is a visible sign of a person as belonging to the Hindu religion.

The Tilaka is of more than one color although normally it is vermilion. It also does not have any standard shape and form and is applied differently by members of different Hindu sects and sub-sects.

It is applied as a ‘U’ by worshippers of lord Vishnu and is red, yellow or saffron in color. It is made up of red ochre powder (Sindhura) and sandalwood paste (Gandha). Worshippers of lord Shiva apply it as three horizontal lines and it consists of ash (Bhasma). Soot (Abhira) is also used as a pigment for applying a Tilaka.

Literally, Tilaka means a mark. Sindhura which is also used to describe a Tilaka means red and Gandha which is also a term for Tilaka means pleasant odour. Hence, Tilaka normally connotes, a red mark with a pleasant odour. Some scholars have seen the red colour as a symbolism for blood. We are told that in ancient times, in Aryan society, a groom used to apply his blood, on-his bride’s forehead as a recognition of wedlock. The existing practice among Indian women of applying a round shaped red Tilaka called Bindiya or Kumkum could be a survival of this.

Why Do We Keep Tilak & Bindi (pottu) On Forehead?

The Tilak 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. Religious marks are worn by men and women with ashes, clay, kumkum (Powdered red turmeric) or sandalwood powder. It is a visible sign of a person as belonging to Hindu culture. In earlier times, the Brahmin applied a white chandan mark signifying purity. The kshatriya applied a red kumkum mark. The vaishya wore a yellow kesar or turmeric mark. The sudra applied a black bhasma, kasturi or charcoal mark. Vishnu worshippers apply a chandan tilak of the shape of “U,” Shiva worshippers a tripundra of bhasma, Devi worshippers a red dot of kumkum.

Saivites typically use ashes (called vibhuti) and draw their tilaks as three horizontal lines (tripundra). Vibhuti used by Saivites, means glory and it is also called bhasma (that by which our sins are destroyed and the Lord is remembered). The holy ash is worn with adoration and respect. This is also known as “thiru neeru” in Tamil. The holy ash has lots of spiritual meaning. Vibhuti is so named because it endows one with prosperity. Ash is the substance that results when things are completely burnt off. In natural terms it is a final state. It is also known as Bhasma because it burns away all sins. This ash is the ultimate reality and cannot be changed any more. By applying this as a symbol of Divinity, we prepare ourselves to give up all desires, burn our attachments and temptations and make ourselves pure, holy and sacred, for liberation.

Vaishnavites apply clay (preferably from holy rivers) or sandalwood paste. They apply the material in two vertical lines, which may be connected at the bottom, forming either a simple U shape or a form said to be like a tulasi leaf. Their Tilak is called the urdhva-pundra. Vaishnavites use clay for their Srichurnam. This is also called “thiru mann” (mann is the Tamil word for clay).This is known as Srichurnam and wearing this is as an important part of the daily rites of a Sri Vaishnavite. The Tilak is applied to twelve parts of the body, reciting the twelve names of the Lord. Vedas say, by wearing this mark, he becomes fortunate, gets released of all the worldly bondages and attains liberation.

In Sri Vaishnava sampradaya the tilak is made out of the white mud found in anthills. The scriptures tell us that the mud from the base of a Tulasi plant and the white mud from within the anthill are both pure and best for making tilak. The Sri Vaishnavas will draw two lines representing the feet of Sri Narayana, and in the middle they will put a red line to represent Lakshmi Devi. Because the Sri Vaishnava sampradaya begins with Sri Lakshmi Devi, and they approach Narayana only through Lakshmi, their tilak reflects this process of surrender. Using mud also makes us reflect that we come from clay and go back to clay. 9.

The Tilaks of each sampradaya actually depict the siddhanta of the sampradaya. The Tilak is also believed to have medicinal and protective functions. The pastes applied are considered to give cooling effect to the body.

The Tilak is also considered to bestow spiritual comfort and protection against demons, bad luck, and other evil forces. The tilak cover the spot between the eyebrows, which is the seat of memory and thinking. It is known as the ajna Chakra in the language of Yoga and gives concentration of spiritual energy on the forehead between the eyebrows.

The tilak is applied with the prayer “May I remember the Lord. May this pious feeling pervade all my activities. May I be righteous in my deeds.”

Even when we temporarily forget this prayerful attitude the mark on another reminds us of our resolve. The tilak is thus a blessing of the Lord and a protection against wrong tendencies and forces. The scriptures say that a Hindu without tilak is worthy of condemnation and is compared to intellect without clarity.
Traditionally Bindi is red in colour. ‘Bindi’ is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘bindu’ or a drop, and suggests the mystic third eye of a person. It is applied as an ornamental mark on the forehead between the two eyebrows — a spot considered a major nerve point in human body since ancient times. The bindi is believed to prevent the loss of “energy”, as well as bringing spiritual protection against demons or bad luck. The red ‘kumkum’ between the eyebrows is said to retain energy in the human body and control the various levels of concentration. It is also the central point of the base of the creation itself — symbolising auspiciousness and good fortune.
The Kumkum which ladies keep on the forehead is to symbolize that they are married. Normally guys walk straight and ladies would walk with head down. By seeing the Kumkum on the forehead, one can understand that the girl is married. In early days, there had been a custom that married guys would have a ring in their second foot finger, as metti seeing that the girl would identify that he is married…
We are told that in ancient times, in Aryan society, a groom used to apply his blood on-his bride’s forehead as a recognition of wedlock. The existing practice among Indian women of applying a round shaped red Tilaka called Bindiya or Kumkum could be a survival of this idea. No one knows exactly when the tradition of putting a bindi started.

Hindu Rituals- Why do we follow them?

5. Why do we wear marks (tilak, pottu and the like) on the forehead?

The tilak or pottu 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.

In earlier times, the four castes (based on varna or colour) – Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Sudra – 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 Sudra applied a black bhasma, kasturi or charcoal mark signifying service as he supported the work of the other three divisions.

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 and so on).

The tilak cover the spot between the eyebrows, which is the seat of memory and thinking. It is known as the Ajna Chakra in the language of Yoga. The tilak is applied with the prayer – “May I remember the Lord. May this pious feeling pervade all my activities. May I be righteous in my deeds.” Even when we temporarily forget this prayerful attitude the mark on another reminds us of our resolve. The tilak is thus a blessing of the Lord and a protection against wrong tendencies and forces.

The entire body emanates energy in the form of electromagnetic waves – the forehead and the subtle spot between the eyebrows especially so. That is why worry generates heat and causes a headache. The tilak and pottu 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.

Basics of Hinduism: Why do many Hindus wear a dot near the middle of their forehead?

The dot worn on the forehead is a religious symbol. It represents divine sight and shows that one is a Hindu. For women, it is also a beauty mark.

Longer answer: The dot worn between the eyes or in the middle of the forehead is a sign that one is a Hindu. It is called the bindi in the Hindi language, bindu in Sanskrit and pottu in Tamil. In olden days, all Hindu men and women wore these marks, and they both also wore earrings. Today it is the women who are most faithful in wearing the bindi.
The dot has a mystical meaning. It represents the third eye of spiritual sight, which sees things the physical eyes cannot see. Hindus seek to awaken their inner sight through yoga. The forehead dot is a reminder to use and cultivate this spiritual vision to perceive and better understand life’s inner workings, to see things not just physically, but with the “mind’s eye” as well.

The bindi is made of red powder (called sindur, traditionally made from powdered turmeric and fresh lime juice), sandal paste or cosmetics.


In addition to the simple dot, there are many types of forehead marks, known as tilaka in Sanskrit. Each mark represents a particular sect or denomination of our vast religion. We have four major sects: Saivism, Vaishnavism, Shaktism and Smartism. Vaishnava Hindus, for example, wear a v-shaped tilaka made of white clay. Elaborate tilakas are worn by Hindus mainly at religious events, though many wear the simple bindi, indicating they are Hindu, even in the general public. By these marks we know what a person believes, and therefore know how to begin conversations.
For Hindu women, the forehead dot is also a beauty mark, not unlike the black mark European and American women once wore on the cheek. The red bindi is generally a sign of marriage. A black bindi is often worn before marriage to ward off the evil eye. As an exotic fashion statement, the dot’s color complements the color of a lady’s sari. Ornate bindis are even worn by actresses in popular American TV shows.
Do not be ashamed to wear the bindi on your forehead in the United States, Canada, Europe or any country of the world. Wear it proudly. The forehead dot will distinguish you from all other people as a very special person, a Hindu, a knower of eternal truths. You will never be mistaken as belonging to another nationality or religion. The sacred forehead dot is an easy way of distinguishing Hindus from Muslims*. And don’t be intimidated when people ask you what the dot means. Now you have lots of information to give a good answer, which will probably lead to more questions about your venerable religion. *And from Christians, we suppose!
For both boys and girls, men and women, the dot can be small or large depending on the circumstance, but should always be there when appropriate. Naturally, we don’t want to flaunt our religion in the face of others. We observe that many Christian men and women take off or conceal their crosses in the corporate business world. Some communities and institutions disallow wearing religious symbols entirely.
Courtesy to

Hinduism For All

An Introduction to the World’s Oldest Way of Life

Author: Srinivasan, Editor: Venkat, Giri Trading Agency, pages 65-67

Viboothi: Vibhooti in Sanskrit means wealth, but it also means sacred ash – or the real wealth – the spiritual one. Created from burning cow dung, scientifically it has great medicinal properties… Both householders as well as those who have renounced the world wear it after the customary bath. All idols of Shiva and his offspring are offered this ash and received as their blessings both in temples and homes.

Kumkum: Kumkum is the mark of auspiciousness on a woman’s forehead. Vermillion in colour, this is also worn by males in many cases. Prescribed to be worn on the forehead – between the eyebrows, and along the parting of the hair after marriage – this sign denotes life in its liquid form – blood, but as a powder. Originally made with a mixture of lemon juice and herbs (there are many modern versions made of chemicals, some of them harmful), this mark announces that one who wears it is not in mourning, in other words happy.

This mark also pints to that portion of the forehead which is the focal point of supreme intellect – in Sanskrit – the final point of the awakened kundalini – a system of yoga said to be perfected only by rigorous practice. It is said that after one attains this kind of perfection, the body reaches the final perfection.

Kumkum is worn by all Hindu females from childhood to old age before widowhood. The only other time when this mark is not worn is during the menstruation period – simply to denote that this is a period to respect the woman’s privacy. Perhaps this was the same logic to denote the time of mourning as well.

Namam: Namam virtually means the name. Vaishnavites or those who accept the supremacy of Vishnu alone sport this mark. The reasons for this mark are the same as in the case of the followers of Shiva. However this mark is applied vertically on the forehead. This mark has been made universal by various sects of Vaishnavism or adherence to the cult of Vishnu.

Hinduism, An Introduction

By Shakunthala Jagannathan, Vakils, Feffer and Simons Ltd., 1984, pages 70, 71

Before settling down to perform pooja, the worshipper adorns his forehead with red powder (kumkum). Also worn are sandalwood paste or holy ashes (vibhuti). This spot between the brows is the seat of latent wisdom and of concentration of the mind, so vital for worship.

Women usually wear a red mark as red is the colour of auspiciousness as also of power. This mark is worn by girls and women all the time and by men nowadays only during worship. This is to remind us of the powers of the three consorts of the Trinity and the grace they bestow on worshippers.

As it is a sign of auspiciousness, in former days (and even today in orthodox homes) it was not worn by widows and when there was death in the family. This is why it is mistakenly thought to be a sign of marriage in women. This is not so as even unmarried girls and men wear this mark. (In some parts of the country, however, sindoor or red powder is worn on the hair parting by married women only.)

Although the kumkum or bindi is usually worn as a round circular spot, women adorn their foreheads with different designs. A crescent moon reminiscent of the moon adorning Shiva’s locks is drawn on the forehead by worshippers of Shiva, or a star to remind themselves of the great Universe.

Men who are devotees of Shiva wear vibhuti or holy ashes on the forehead in three horizontal lines to remind themselves of the three aspects of God-head, Creation, Preservation and Destruction. Also that the human body ends in ashes, as Hindus cremate the bodies of their dead, possibly one of the few peoples of the world to do so. 11.

Women devotees of Vishnu wear the tilak, a straight line in red, though this custom is on the decline with young people. Men devotees wear a ‘Y’ or ‘U’ sign in white (with or without a red line in the centre) symbolising the sacred feet of Vishnu, the red line depicting Goddess Lakshmi, also known as Sree Devi. In some parts of the country, this ‘U’ sign is believed to symbolise the sacred lotus opening out at the feet of Lord Vishnu.

Devotees of Krishna wear a sandalwood ‘U’ mark as Krishna is the beloved of all and the fragrance of sandalwood is symbolic of the fragrance of his love for his devotees.

These marks on the forehead were mistakenly called caste-marks by the British and this appellation unfortunately continues. However they are not caste-marks and at best the only point out if the wearer is a follower of the Shaiva or Vaishnava faith. Even here the demarcation exists only for men as all women wear the same red dot on the forehead.

(Today young women treat this as a beauty mark and use powders of different colours matching their clothes.)

Principal Symbols of World Religions

By Swami Harshananda, Sri Ramakrishna Math, 2003, pages 9-16

[Symbols in Hinduism, compiled by Swami Nrityavani, Chinmaya Mission, pages 75, 76, the portion within << >> below]

Hinduism, Sivalinga: Siva is said to be fond of bhasma or the holy ash. Hence wearing the sacred ash on the forehead or other parts of the body (as Tripundra) is a must for the Saivites. The ash is normally taken from the sacred fire, grhyagni, though readymade ash is also available. It is applied as three horizontal lines. These lines are said to represent: the three aspects of Siva, the three syllables of Om, the three Vedas, the three selves, the three fires, and the three daily oblations. Wearing the tripundra is believed to purify the votary.

<<Sricakra: The Sricakra is perhaps the most important and the most widely used symbol of the Sakti cult, the cult of the votaries of the Divine Mother… The Sricakra is the symbol of the Lalita-aspect of the Divine Mother. It is essentially a yantra, a geometrical diagram representing the form-pattern of the Goddess. The Sricakra consists of a dot (bindu) at the centre surrounded by nine triangles… This bindu, like a dicotyledonous seed, contains the Siva-Sakti principle as one closely-knit unit.

Urdhvapundra: Literally the word means a religious mark (pundra) which is worn upright (urdhva). In common parlance it is called nama. Since it has been ordained by the Vaisnava scriptures that while marking the various parts of the body with the urdhvapundra, names of Lord Visnu (like Kesava) are to be repeated and that the respective mark represents the respective aspect of the Deity indicated by that particular name, the word nama (= name) has become synonymous with the urdhvapundra itself… >> The Hindu religious tradition has always insisted upon its followers to wear religious marks appropriate to their faith, on their bodies, especially on the forehead. Urdhvapundra is one such mark. The meaning and significance of this symbol is rather obscure to discover. When marked on the forehead of the Deity in a temple, it may signify the power of that Deity to uplift the votaries. When marked on the forehead of the votary, it may remind him to take a spiritually upward path. It is sometimes interpreted that the two lines on the outside represent the ida and pingala (the two passages for the flow of pranic energy intertwining the backbone) and the middle line (marked in red or yellow colour) represents the sushumna passage (through which the kundalini power flows after awakening). The three together represent the yogic path or spiritual ascent… The Urdhvapundra is marked as a ‘U’ by the vadagalais (the Northerners) and as a ‘V’ by the tengalais (the Southerners). Clay, white or yellow, is used for marking the outer lines and turmeric or sricurna (a kind of red powder) for marking the central line.

The World’s Religions, A Lion Handbook 1982, page 188

Concepts of Hinduism, By Raymond Hammer

The Vaishnavite … paints red or white vertical lines on his forehead, or red, black or white spots between his eyebrows.

The red mark on an Indian woman’s forehead usually signifies that she is a Hindu, but practices vary from area to area.

Forehead Markings

Many people of India, especially those who follow the Hindu religion, wear colored markings on their foreheads and other parts of their bodies. In general, forehead markings identify a person’s third eye, or what Hindus believe is the center of a person’s nervous system, the area in which a person can see spiritual truths. These markings usually take the form of red, white, and black dots or lines, or combinations of dots and lines, which have either social or religious meanings. The practice of marking the body, especially the forehead, with these symbols dates back to ancient people who lived in southern Asia around 2500 B.C.E.

Many historians believe that ancient ancestors of the modern residents of India began the custom of placing symbolic marks on their foreheads. Although the exact reasons and time forehead marks began has yet to be determined, some think the red markings had their roots in an ancient practice of blood sacrifice, that is, killing animals or people as an offering to the gods. Perhaps red marks were placed on the body as a symbol of the blood offering. Other experts have uncovered ancient religious rituals where worshippers wore garlands of leaves and cut symbols and shapes out of leaves to place on their foreheads.

A Hindu holy woman marks her forehead with an intricate red design.

The modern forehead markings worn by Indian people and those of Indian descent have different names, depending on the type of marking and what the marking is made of. 12.

Red dots are called bindi or pottu. They are usually made of a paste called kumkum, which is made of turmeric powder, a yellow spice, which is common in India. The yellow turmeric is mixed with lime juice, which turns it bright red. White lines are called tilak, which is the name of the sacred white ash that is used to make them. In addition to the forehead, tilak are often placed on the chin, neck, palms, and other parts of the body.

There are two basic types of forehead markings. Religious tilak and bindi are worn by both Hindu women and men and indicate which sect, or branch, of Hinduism the wearer belongs to. There are four major sects of the Hindu religion, depending on which gods are worshipped most devoutly, and each sect is recognized by different types of forehead markings. For example, those of the Vaishnav sect honor Lords Vishnu and Krishna and mark their heads with white lines in the shape of a “v.” Followers of Lord Shiva are in the Saiv sect and mark their foreheads with three horizontal lines. Many Hindus believe that people have a “third eye,” which sees spiritual truths, and that this third eye is located on the forehead above and between the eyes. Many Hindu temples keep kumkum paste at the entrance, and all who visit place a dot of it on their foreheads.

The second type of forehead marking is the bindi, or dot, worn over the third eye by many Indian women, which shows whether they are married. Young, unmarried women wear a black bindi, and married women wear a bright red bindi. Widows, whose husbands have died, either wear no bindi, or wear a white dot made of ash. Mothers sometimes place black bindi on the foreheads of babies and small children for protection against evil spirits. During the late twentieth century the bindi became a fashionable form of decoration, and rather than using the traditional powder women could buy red felt bindi that stuck on the forehead. Women began to use bindi of different decorative shapes and even use gemstones, like rhinestones and pearls, for a glamorous look.

Mention of the “third eye” came up in at least one of the articles on each of the preceding pages.

In my library, I have dozens of books written by Christian authors on New Age and New Age themes, almost all of which refer to or go into detail on the above–referred “third eye” when discussing Hinduism, especially in the context of the practice of yoga.

On the cover of the book titled “Return To The Centre” by Benedictine Father Bede Griffiths, the New Age monk who was the head of the infamous Saccidananda Ashram, Shantivanam, there is an autographed photograph of Bede Griffiths swathed in a saffron-colored shawl and wearing a bright red bindi in the centre of his forehead. Makes one wonder which “centre” he is referring to in the book title. Not surprisingly, the 19th and last chapter of the book is called “Yoga, the Way of Union”.

I would like here to include a few excerpts from one book from my library, “Gods of the New Age – Where Lies Masquerade as Truth”. The author, Caryl Matrisciana, a former New Ager, was born in Calcutta, India, in 1947, and lived there for the first 20 years of her life.

On her tryst with yoga, she explains, “Every morning I found myself sitting cross-legged in my living room with eyes closed, arms relaxed, and palms in my lap facing upward. Later I was to learn that touching my third finger to my thumb added greater energy to this mystical position. I would slowly begin my rhythmic breathing, controlled, shallow and circular, concentrating on my breath going in through my nose and out through my mouth, down one side of me and up the other. This hypnotic performance took me powerfully beyond what I perceived as my limits…
Later I centered upon my ‘third eye’ lodged in the middle of my forehead, believed by occultists to be the center of psychic power
. As my curiosity developed over the weeks and months, so did my Yoga exercises. Although they had started out as a physical practice, they were now embracing Hindu philosophy and a mystical and spiritual dimension too. In the same method I had used to visualize my ‘third eye’ into a reality, I also conjured up energy centers known as chakras… Ultimately, I trained these ‘energies’ to fuse above where I imagined my
‘third eye’
to be… ‘Neti’, the cleansing of the nose with warm salted water… is said to cleanse the membranes inside the nose and to stimulate and strengthen the surrounding area, which includes the eyebrow center. This is an important point for the Anja [sic] Chakra-
the third eye.”

Of her visit to India in 1980, she writes, “The Divine Light Mission promoted Light-and-Sound Yoga with its
initiation… The [Tantric] ‘energy’, which is another name for
, is said to be lying dormant, coiled at the base of the spine. When it is awakened and encouraged up the spinal passage it ultimately achieves cosmic union with the
‘third eye’
… In the gurus’ strange illustrations, the female power or ‘shakti’ is seen as the serpent. She is awakened through vigorous breathing and upward pushing. Her lover*
supposedly resides in the
‘third eye’
. When at last they meet, a cosmic orgasm takes place… And that’s what people call enlightenment!”

My office shelves are lined with unbelievably
children’s books… One of the most shocking of all these books is titled ‘Meditating with Children: The Art of Concentration and Centering’ by Deborah Rozman…

The artwork in the book is a collection of
Hindu symbols
, including
the third eye…”

Godmen and godwomen like Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Mata Amritanandamayi, the Shankaracharyas, sleaze-swami Nithyananda, etc. are never seen without prominent sacred markings on the foreheads.

“Lord lords here” [Mylapore Talk, 1-7 November, 2009] says this about the Virupaaksheeshwarar temple: “Viroopam means in contrast to nature. Akshi means eye. Virupaaksheeshwarar means one who has an eye contrary to nature, one who has a
third eye
. The lines outlining the third eye can be seen on the
. The lingam is also the largest among the seven Shiva temples here.

Shiva’s third eye appeared in the centre of his forehead in a vertical position, according to Puranic myths, when Parvati, his wife, playfully placed her hands on his eyes from behind. Her act led to chaos in the universe as it became very dark. At this point, the third eye or Trinetra opened up in Shiva’s forehead. 13.

The third eye is associated with end of illusion, destruction of the illusory world, and with higher perception. Shiva is said to open this eye only at the time of destruction of the world at the end of its cycle before its recreation by Brahma. Shiva is said to have burnt Kama, the god of love, to cinders with this eye when he tried to disrupt his meditation. Since then the god of love is said to be formless.” “Shiva’s Third Eye”, Deccan Chronicle, February 4, 2006

Re: Dot on forehead

March 6, 1997

In our Social Studies class we are studying Hinduism. Our teacher asked us to research the colored dot on the forehead of women and to find out what it means. We cannot find the exact meaning. HELP!!!! Barry Basham

Hindus themselves do not know what this means. I certainly do not; it is worn nowadays as a cultural symbol with minor religious overtones. Indian Christians, Jains, Parsis, and Sikhs also often wear the “bindi” on their forehead. If anyone offers an interpretation, it is likely to be a modern one that is not based in tradition.

In strictly religious ceremonies, many Hindus place some other symbol on their forehead as a sign of their faith. Among South Indian Vaishnavas, it is common for men and women to both wear sri churnam (a vertical red line) on
religious occasions. The sri churnam represents the presence of God’s grace in the form of the Divine Mother
Lakshmi. South Indian Saivas also tend to wear vibhuti (sacred ash) on religious occasions or when visiting the temple. However, this is usually not to the exclusion of the bindi. Mani Varadarajan

Bindi [Religion Facts – Hinduism]

One of the most recognizable items in Hinduism is the bindi, a dot worn on women’s foreheads.
It is a form of the tilak, a symbolic mark worn by many Hindu men and women, but has less religious connotations than other tilaks.

Traditionally, the bindi is worn on the forehead of married Hindu women. It symbolizes female energy and is believed to protect women and their husbands. Bindis are traditionally a simple mark made with the paste of colored sandalwood, sindoor or turmeric. The bindi is most commonly a red dot made with vermilion.

In addition, the bindi is a way of accentuating the third eye, the area between the eyebrows where attention is focused during meditation. Men and women often apply a tilak after a puja ritual or on other religious occasions as a way of invoking religious feelings, concentration and focus. Sometimes a woman’s bindi represents sectarian affiliation, like the men’s tilak, but this is less common.

More recently, the bindi has become primarily a decorative accessory and is worn by unmarried girls and non-Hindu women. It is also no longer restricted in color or shape, and self-adhesive bindis made from felt in various designs and colors are common. Bindi styles often vary by the area of India in which they are worn.


1. “Tilak.” Encyclopædia Britannica (2007). Encyclopædia Britannica Online.

2. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Hinduism.

Bindi (decoration)

A bindi (from Sanskrit bindu, meaning “a drop, small particle, dot”) is a forehead decoration worn in South Asia (particularly India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Mauritius) and Southeast Asia. Traditionally it is a dot of red color applied in the center of the forehead close to the eyebrows, but it can also consist of a sign or piece of jewelry worn at this location.

Religious significance

Traditionally, the area between the eyebrows (where the bindi is placed) is said to be the sixth chakra, ajna, the seat of “concealed wisdom”. According to followers of Hinduism, this chakra is the exit point for kundalini energy. The bindi is said to retain energy and strengthen concentration. It is also said to protect against demons or bad luck. The bindi also represents the third eye.

A misconception, urban legend, or myth about the bindi in the western world is that only married Hindu women wear red bindis as a symbol of wedlock.

In modern times, bindis are worn by women of many religious dispositions in South Asia and Southeast Asia, and is not restricted to Hindus. Many Muslim women in Bangladesh and Pakistan wear the bindi as part of makeup. It is also used in festivals such as Holi.

Red represents honor, love and prosperity hence was worn traditionally by women to symbolize this.

The red bindi has multiple meanings which are all valid at the same time. This is also a spiritual symbol.

-By one simple interpretation it is a cosmetic mark used to enhance beauty.

-From Vedic times, the Bindi was created as a means to worship ones intellect. Therefore it was used by both men and women. The worship of intellect was in order to use it to ensure our thoughts, speech, actions, habits and ultimately our character becomes pure. A strong intellect can help one to make noble decisions in life, be able to stand up to challenges in life with courage, and recognize and welcome good thoughts in life. The belief was that on this a strong individual, a strong family and strong society can be formed.

-In meditation, this very spot between the eyebrows (Bhrumadhya) is where one focuses his/her sight, so that it helps concentration. Most images of Buddha or Hindu divinities in meditative pose with their eyes nearly closed show the gaze focused between eyebrows (other spot being the tip of the nose – naasikagra).

-Swami Muktanand writes ‘auspicious Kumkum or sandal wood paste is applied (between the eyebrows) out of respect for inner Guru. It is the Guru’s seat. There is a chakra (center of spiritual energy within human body) here called Ajna (Aadnyaa) chakra meaning ‘Command center’. Here you receive the Guru’s command to go higher in Sadhana (spiritual practice) to the ‘Sahasraar’ (seventh and final chakra) which leads to Self realization. The flame seen at the eyebrow is called ‘Guru Jyoti’. (From Finite to Infinite, by Swami Muktananda, SYDA Foundation, S. Fallsburg, NY, 1989, pp. 88-89)

-The encyclopedic dictionary of Yoga informs that this ‘Ajna Chakra’ is also called as the ‘Third eye’.
This center is connected with the sacred syllable ‘Om’ and presiding it is ‘ParaaShiva’. After activation of this center, the aspirant overcomes ‘Ahamkar’ (ego or sense of individuality), the last hurdle on the path of spirituality. (Encyclopedic dictionary of Yoga, by Georg Fuerstein, Paragon House Publications, NY, 1990, p.15).

Traditional way to apply a bindi

A traditional bindi is red or maroon in color. A pinch of vermilion powder applied skillfully with a practiced fingertip makes a perfect red dot. It takes considerable practice to achieve the perfect round shape by hand. A small annular disc (perhaps a coin) aids application for beginners. First they apply a sticky wax paste through the empty center of the disc. This is then covered with kumkum or vermilion and then the disc is removed to get a perfect round bindi. Various materials such as sandal, ‘aguru’, ‘kasturi’, ‘kumkum’ (made of red turmeric) and ‘sindoor’ (made of zinc oxide and dye) color the dot. Saffron ground together with ‘kusumba’ flower can also work.

Related customs

In addition to the bindi, in India, a vermilion mark in the parting of the hair just above the forehead is worn by married women as commitment to long-life and well-being of their husbands. During all Hindu marriage ceremonies, the groom applies sindoor on the parting in the bride’s hair. The bride must wipe off her red bindi once she becomes a widow. This can be seen as symbolic and shows her status in society. Widows can continue to wear the black bindi but with a white sari.

Many Kurdish women wear tattoo motifs on their forehead to ward off evil spirits and show their ethnic group. In Morocco women used to tattoo their foreheads for good luck. This tradition is now almost extinct. Within North Africa many tribes have used tattoo motifs to symbolize fertility especially on their forehead. Some tribes in Afghanistan still tattoo and decorate women’s foreheads for cultural and traditional purposes.

Ancient Chinese women wore similar marks (for purely decorative purposes) since the second century, which became popular during the Tang Dynasty.

In traditional Korean weddings, the bride also wears a decorative mark on the forehead, similar to the Bindi, though whether this practice came originally from India is not known.

Modern use

Bindis are worn throughout South Asia, specifically India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, by women, men, girls and boys, and no longer signify age, marital status, religious background or ethnic affiliation. The bindi has become a decorative item and is no longer restricted in colour or shape. Self-adhesive bindis (also known as sticker bindis) are available, usually made of felt or thin metal and adhesive on the other side. These are simple to apply, disposable substitutes for older tilak bindis. Sticker bindis come in many colors, designs, materials, and sizes. Some are decorated with sequins, glass beads, or rhinestones.

Bindis are not always red, nor always a dot, nor always worn by women. They are called kumkum or bindi, or tilak (“mark”) when worn by men. Usually Hindu women, priests, monks and worshipers wear it. Men wear it on auspicious occasions such as Puja (ritual worship), or marriage, or Aarti (waving of lights), on festive occasions such as on Raksha-bandhan, Bhaai-duj, Karvaa Chauth or Paadwaa or Dasshera, or while embarking on, or upon return from a voyage or a campaign. It is also worn by Jains and Buddhists (even in China).

Bindis are now popular outside South Asia as well. Sometimes they are worn as a style statement. International celebrities such as Julia Roberts, Madonna and many others have been seen wearing bindis.

Bindis were a trend for teenage girls in the U.S. during the mid-1990s. Gwen Stefani, of the band No Doubt, popularized bindis as well as mehndi on the hands. The Indian influence in the U.S. is seen in packed yoga studios, Bollywood-style exercise classes, as well as in American women’s fashion adaptation of bindi (forehead decoration), mehndi (henna body art) and colorful Indian-style garments.

Bindis are not as fashionable to the younger generation and are often worn on formal and traditional occasions now. The popularity of bindis varies with the latest fashion trends of South Asia.

There was a time when bindis were solely used to beautify the space between eyebrows; however, this notion has largely changed over time. Today bindis are worn even in place like the corner of one’s eyes. The white-stone bindis are widely used by young women to adorn their eyes. In India, bindis are used by young girls to decorate nails, nose and even the belly button. Jasmine Chanchani, who has been specialising in this form of bindi art, commented, “If you are daring enough and have a body to show off, a bindi tattoo near the navel can be a very hot style statement. Wear a simple, short top with your skirt or denim, make the belly button bindi design the focal point and watch ’em gape.

Alternative names of bindi

A bindi can be called:

Teep (literally meaning “a pressing”) in Bengali

Tikuli (literally meaning “a small Tika”) in Madhyadeshi areas

Chandlo in Gujarati meaning moon shape.

Tilak in Hindi

Kunkuma or Bottu or Tilaka in Kannada 15.

Tilo in Konkani

Kunkoo or Tikli in Marathi

Bindi in Punjabi meaning long red mark.

Pottu in Malayalam and Tamil

Bottu or Tilakam in Telugu

Gopi dots are the small dots over the eyebrows used in marriage or festivals.

Nande is a term erroneously used to describe a bindi in Malaysia. It may contain pejorative connotations although not in most cases.

Bindi: The Great Indian Forehead Art

All You Need to Know about Bindis, by Subhamoy Das, guide

The bindi is arguably the most visually fascinating of all forms of body decoration. Hindus attach great importance to this ornamental mark on the forehead between the two eyebrows — a spot considered a major nerve point in human body since ancient times. Also loosely known as ‘tika’, ‘pottu’, ‘sindoor’, ’tilak’, ’tilakam’, and ‘kumkum’, a bindi is usually a small or a big eye-catching round mark made on the forehead as adornment.

That red dot

In southern India, girls choose to wear a bindi, while in other parts of India it is the prerogative of the married woman. A red dot on the forehead is an auspicious sign of marriage and guarantees the social status and sanctity of the institution of marriage. The Indian bride steps over the threshold of her husband’s home, bedecked in glittering apparels and ornaments, dazzling the red bindi on her forehead that is believed to usher in prosperity, and grants her a place as the guardian of the family’s welfare and progeny.

A Hot Spot!

The area between the eyebrows, the sixth chakra known as the ‘ajna’ meaning ‘command’, is the seat of concealed wisdom. It is the centre point wherein all experience is gathered in total concentration. According to the tantric cult, when during meditation the latent energy (‘kundalini’) rises from the base of the spine towards the head, this ‘ajna’ is the probable outlet for this potent energy. The red ‘kumkum’ between the eyebrows is said to retain energy in the human body and control the various levels of concentration. It is also the central point of the base of the creation itself — symbolizing auspiciousness and good fortune.

How to Apply

Traditional bindi is red or maroon in color. A pinch of vermilion powder applied skillfully with practiced fingertip make the perfect red dot. Women who are not nimble-fingered take great pains to get the perfect round. They use small circular discs or hollow pie coin as aid. First they apply a sticky wax paste on the empty space in the disc. This is then covered with kumkum or vermilion and then the disc is removed to get a perfect round bindi. Sandal, ‘aguru’, ‘kasturi’, ‘kumkum’ (made of red turmeric) and ‘sindoor’ (made of zinc oxide and dye) make this special red dot. Saffron ground together with ‘kusumba’ flower can also create the magic!

Fashion Point

With changing fashion, women try out many shapes and designs. It is, at times a straight vertical line or an oval, a triangle or miniature artistry (‘alpana’) made with a fine-tipped stick, dusted with gold and silver powder, studded with beads and crusted with glittering stones. The advent of the sticker-bindi made of felt with glue on one side, has not only added colors, shapes and sizes to the bindi but is an ingenious easy-to-use alternative to the powder. Today, bindi is more of a fashion statement than anything else, and the number of young performers sporting bindis is overwhelming even in the West.

Buy a Bindi

Even those who use the bindi purely for decorative purposes, often notice its power.

Bindi: The Great Indian Forehead Art

Bindi History, Legends, Significance by Subhamoy Das, Hinduism guide

‘Bindi’ is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘bindu’ or a drop, and suggests the mystic third eye of a person.

In ancient India, garlands were an important part of the evening-dress of both men and women. This was often accompanied by ‘Visesakachhedya’, i.e., painting the forehead with a bindi or ’tilaka’. In those days, thin and tender leaves used to be cut into different shapes and pasted upon the forehead. These leafy bindis were also known by various names — ‘Patrachhedya’, ‘Patralekha’, ‘Patrabhanga’, or ‘Patramanjari’. Not only on the forehead, but also on the chin, neck, palm, breast and in other parts of the body, sandal paste and other natural stuff were used for decoration.

Myths and Significance

The vermilion, traditionally used exclusively for bindis, is called ‘sindura’ or ‘sindoor’. It means ‘red’, and represents Shakti (strength). It also symbolizes love — one on the beloved’s forehead lights up her face and captivates the lover. As a good omen, ‘sindoor’ is placed in temples or during celebrations along with turmeric (yellow) that stands for intellect especially in temples dedicated to Shakti, Lakshmi and Vishnu.

Sindoor in Scriptures

‘Sindoor’ and ‘kumkum’ are of special significance on special occasions. The practice of using ‘kumkum’ on foreheads is mentioned in many ancient texts (Puranas), including Lalitha Sahasranamam and Soundarya Lahhari. 16.

Our religious texts, scriptures, myths and epics too mention the significance of ‘kumkum’. Legends have it that Radha turned her ‘kumkum’ bindi into a flame-like design on her forehead, and in the Mahabharata, Draupadi wiped her ‘kumkum’ off the forehead in despair and disillusion at Hastinapur.

Bindi and Sacrifice

Many people associate the red bindi with the ancient practice of offering blood sacrifices to appease the Gods. Even in the ancient Aryan society, a bridegroom made a ’tilak’ mark on the bride’s forehead as a sign of wedlock. The present practice could be an extension of that tradition. Significantly, when an Indian woman has the misfortune of becoming a widow, she stops wearing the bindi. Also, if there is death in the family, the women folks’ bindi-less face tells the community that the family is in mourning.

Bindis: Why do Indians wear a red dot on their forehead?

Aside from beautiful saris and magnificent gold jewellery one of the most internationally famous body adornments worn by Indian women is the red dot on the forehead, the bindi. Travelling in India you might notice that these forehead decorations are not unique to women. So why do Indians wear red dots and similar forehead decorations?

What is the bindi?

By bindi I’m referring to that red dot seen most commonly decorating the foreheads of Indian women, or to be more precise by Hindu women. Because of the many dialects spoken throughout India, bindis are otherwise known by many other names including bottu, kumkum, pottu, sindoor, teep, tikli, tika, tilak, tilaka, and tilakam.

The word “bindi” comes from the word “bindu” which means “drop” or “dot” in Sanskrit; an apt description of this spot of color.

The color is made from several possible substances:

Powder: The ancient custom is to use powder which is applied to the forehead with a skilful finger to make the bindi. The substances used to make this powder have varied through time but are usually one of the following:
Kumkum: This is a powder made from red turmeric. Turmeric is one of the most traditional substances used for bindi creation, and in the past was combined with lime and other herbal ingredients to make the base for the bindi paste.
Sandalwood paste
Ashes (called vibhuti)
Zinc oxide: Powder made from Zinc oxide and dye
Vermilion: This is a powder containing cinnabar which is a source of mercury sulphide, a dangerously toxic compound. Sometimes it contains lead tetroxide which has been shown to be carcinogenic for lab animals. Mercury and lead-filled vermilion is dangerous and should not be used.
Saffron ground together with kusumba flower

Sticker: A sticker made from paper or rexine is often used today because it is easier to apply than the traditional powder.

Any natural materials at hand: In ancient times, leaves, seeds, fruit and even soot were used to create bindis. Leafy bindis were called Patrachhedya, Patralekha, Patrabhanga, or Patramanjari but are not really used today.

Now we understand the “what” but we don’t yet have the “why”. Why are these Indian forehead spots worn in the first place?

Why do Indians wear bindis? What is the bindi meaning?

There are an abundance of theories regarding the meaning behind the ancient tradition of wearing a bindi. Here are some of the theories unraveling the mystery of the Indian forehead spot:

Theory 1: A remnant of an old Aryan marriage tradition

Although the bindi is worn on an everyday basis by many women, it is also worn in the Hindu marriage ceremony. After marriage many women choose to wear a red bindi which has led to the misconception that it is only married Hindu women who wear one. In fact this isn’t the case and although perhaps married women wear them most often, the bindi can be worn by men and women, single or not.

Why the association of wearing a bindi with marriage? One theory goes back to around 1500 BCE, at the time when a light-skinned Indo-European race called the Aryans, are said to have conquered India. One of the alleged Aryan wedding traditions was for the marriage to be sealed with blood: The groom would apply a drop of his own blood onto his new bride’s forehead as part of the ceremony. The theory is that over time this tradition was modified to apply red powder instead of blood. This ancient marriage-association of the red spot may explain the tradition of there being a high prevalence of married women wearing a red spot on their forehead.

It is interesting to note that Korean weddings also have a similar tradition of the bride wearing a decorative forehead spot. The origin of this tradition is unclear but some sources suggest that Aryans may have reached some Korean settlements at some point in history.

Theory 2: It is worn to strengthen the brow chakra

Around 3000 BCE, the seers of ancient India wrote the scriptures known as the Vedas, and in these they described the existence of areas of concentrated energy within the energy field of the human body. These energy centers were named “chakras”. There are seven main chakras that run along the center of the body, and the sixth one (called the “brow chakra”, ajna, or “third eye chakra”) occurs exactly where the bindi is placed. Every chakra is believed to have different properties, and the bindi is believed to strengthen the brow chakra’s beneficial qualities which include the following: 17.

Access to inner wisdom: There is a spiritual belief that we all have inner wisdom within us (although we do not always access it unfortunately because we are often distracted by the chattering mind). This inner wisdom is sometimes referred to as the “inner Guru”. The brow chakra is thought to be the seat of your concealed wisdom and the command center of the inner Guru. Placing the bindi here aims to help you access the inner Guru, to facilitate your ability to see the world with wiser eyes and interpret the things you see in a truthful, unbiased manner. Given that it enables this spiritually heightened way of seeing the world through wisdom and truth, it becomes clear why this chakra is sometimes called the “third eye“.
Because the “inner Guru” is so wise that it can find solutions to everything, strengthening this chakra with a bindi is also thought to protect against tricky situations and bad luck.

Helps you overcome the ego: The “ego” is our “false self”. By this I mean it is what our mind thinks we are, rather than who we really are. The mind gives us all sorts of labels depending on our jobs, our familial role (e.g. daughter, mother, aunt etc.), our personality (introverted/ extroverted, perfectionistic, jealous etc.) and other labels that are not relevant to who our true selves are deep inside.
The inner Guru helps you to avoid getting caught up in all these false labels and hold on to your true self.
There are certain times where strengthening this inner Guru and suppressing the ego is particularly important:

Helps married women let go of their attachments to their old life:
This may be another reason why the bindi is worn in the marriage ceremony and thereafter by married women. In accordance with ancient tradition, when a Hindu woman gets married, she gives up her name and her old living arrangements when she moves into her new husband’s house. It is human nature (or rather the ego’s nature) to attach your identity to things like names and houses, so strengthening the brow chakra with a bindi can help overcome such attachments to ease the transition.

Removing ego for important people: Sometimes people in highly respected places, like priests, royalty and important politicians may wear a bindi to remind themselves not to be carried away by the ego’s label of them as “important people”.

Helps you meditate: The inner Guru’s ability to help quieten the ego also helps silence unnecessary, unhelpful thoughts and emotions, or the “chattering mind”. This comes in useful during spiritual practices and meditation.

Helps promote peace of mind: Because the bindi aims to quieten the ego with its often critical thoughts and negative emotions, it helps promote inner peace and aids in concentration in general, on any task at hand.

Access to spiritual planes:
The chakras that are higher up in the body are said to be more closely connected with subtle energy where deities and other powerful spiritual powers dwell. Along with the other reasons described, this is another one of the reasons you’ll often see Hindu priests wearing a bindi-like mark on their forehead. Marking this spot is also common for both men and women during many religious times in Hinduism including during ritual worship (called Puja). Superstitious folk believe that the third eye’s spiritual nature means that a bindi in this location can protect one from negative energies.

Access to kundalini energy:
According to Vedic scriptures, each chakra center contains special energy called kundalini energy. When a chakra is open it can leak out energy. The bindi is said to protect against energy loss and strengthen the energy in the third eye and of the body in general.

Theory 3: Ancient practice of differentiating different castes or groups

One theory is that the bindi was used to help distinguish between different castes. The Indian caste system is a social stratification that generally categorizes people by their ancestral professions, denoting if they came from a line of scholars, warriors, farmers, artisans and so on. Each caste had different degrees of power and prestige and the caste to which they were born into was believed to give a rough idea of the person’s social standing, financial status, and even their intellectual ability. Different colors and shapes of bindi may have been attributed to certain castes; a useful visual tool for a culture that placed great importance on mixing with the “right” people in society. There was a time when if a man came in contact with the lowest group in the social hierarchy (“the untouchables” who didn’t even have a caste) he’d quickly go to clean himself thoroughly!

Castes aside, facial markings were also used to identify different religious subsections. To this day bindi-like forehead smears and facial markings are used by followers of different sub-sects of Hinduism. For example followers of Lord Vishnu have one mark whilst followers of Lord Shiva, Devi Shakti and Goddess Shakti have a different marking.

Theory 4: Bindi are simply a body decoration fashion statement
Whilst it is likely that the bindi has more meaning than being a body ornament alone, for some people today it serves the purpose of beautification more than anything else. This is especially the case when worn by Westerners who have not been educated in the Vedic scriptures.

Why are the bindis red?
Most often, the bindi are red dots. Why red? There are many possible meanings of the color red, but in the context of bindi it is thought to represent the following in particular:




Strength (“Shakti”)

Passion – In Hindu philosophy of religion there is a term, “prakriti” which means “nature”, and it is believed that nature is made up of three main components: goodness (sattva), passion (rajas), and darkness (tamas). Each of these has as color: White for goodness, red for passion and black for darkness. Being the color of passion, red is associated with love and fertility. 18.

If the Aryan origins story has some truth to it, the bindi’s color may simply be because it was the closest color to the original blood spot that was placed on the forehead in Aryan wedding ceremonies. Another story is that there was an ancient practice of making blood sacrifices to the Gods, but that over time this custom transformed into one of offering red gifts and wearing red, which may explain why red is the most often seen color of the bindi.

Although red is the most commonly seen color for bindi, there are other bindi colors available with different meanings.

Other bindi colors

Black bindi: The second most prevalent bindi color is black. Unmarried women and widows are most likely to be seen adorned with this. Once a wife is widowed, it is culturally unacceptable for her to wear a red bindi anymore and instead she can only wear a black one.

Whatever color bindi that matches their outfit! In modern times bindis have become more a fashion accessory than a strictly religious piece. Decorative bindis can be found in an abundance of colors and shapes to suit any mood and outfit.

Forehead markings in India

February 19, 2003

Intro: Various head markings in Hindu culture are presently known as, bindi, tika, pottu, sindoor, tilak, tilakam, kumkum, chandan, aguru, and kasturi. Bindi is a Sanskrit word meaning bindu or drop. The bindi is also a symbol of the goddess Parvati. It is a powder or sticker placed on the sixth chakra known as Ajna.
Ajna means command. Another marking that accompanies the bindi is called Chandan. Chandan is a paste made out of Sandalwood, and is worn right above the bindi.

It is believed that in meditation kundalini (energy) rises from the base of the spine to the ajna which acts as an outlet for divine energy. The bindi is used to conserve the kundalini created in meditation for the body, and helps the wearer wield their power of concentration.

In Hindu temples, Chandan is offered to the gods. After the offering, a priest may smear some of the paste on worshippers’ foreheads. Chandan can be a friendly welcoming guest for wedding attendees too. At many marriage ceremonies, chandan is kept at the entrance to be put on as a pre-wedding watch ritual. In the heat of some climates it is used on the forehead as a cooling agent.

History: The bindi is typically red/maroon to symbolize the ancient practice of blood sacrifices for the appeasement of gods. In past Aryan society, the bridegroom during a wedding would always make a tilak
(mark) on the bride’s forehead as a sign of wedlock. Husbands and wives still to this day make the bindi dot with kumkum powder on each of their foreheads when worshipping at a temple.

Are bindis permanent?

By Julia Salgado, eHow Contributor, May 24, 2011

Bindis are worn by Hindus as a connection to the spiritual side of life. They are not permanent and can be attached and removed at any time. The wearing of a bindi carries great symbolism and represents not only a person’s faith but also her marital status and other facets of her personality. The bindi is also not the only type of forehead marking worn by Hindus.

Bindi Origins

Although the ancient origins of the bindi are unknown, the practice of wearing a bindi has been around for centuries. They are worn in the middle of the forehead in a place that Hindus believe is the spiritual — or third — eye. In ancient times, this was believed to be a major nerve in the human body and sensitive to spirituality. Hindus knew this area by various names, one of which is the Ajna chakra.

Bindis and Tilakas

The bindi refers specifically to the mark on the forehead that is stuck on. It does not refer to the mark which is drawn on or the practice of attaching jewelry to the forehead. When the mark is drawn on, it is called a tilaka and when it comprises a piece of jewelry it is called a tikka. Tikkas are usually reserved for more formal occasions, such as weddings.

Bindis and Marital Status

A bindi is also a reflection of marital status. If a woman is wearing a red circular bindi, this generally means she is married. Some married women may choose to wear another shaped bindi but color it red or incorporate a red spot into it to represent their marriage. Married women are by no means obliged to wear a red bindi, but will often choose to advertise their marital status. Some younger people have begun wearing bindis in other locations rather than the traditional, central forehead location, including diagonally above either eye.

Bindi Symbolism

The shape of a bindi holds great symbolism for Hindus. If a bindi is a teardrop or circle, it signifies a blessing from the deities. A swan symbolizes beauty and communal values, a snake symbolizes cunning or fertility and an elephant’s trunk symbolizes strength. A bindi in the shape of a square represents the four elements, a trident represents creation, destruction and regeneration while a spear represents victory. Some shapes to be wary of include a hollow teardrop resembling a noose, which represents the deity of death catching his victims, or the symbol of an eye, which shows reverence to the Khumari living goddess. Anyone who marries a former Khumari is said to meet a tragic end. 19.

Types of Bindis

By Cindi Pearce, eHow Contributor

A bindi is a forehead decoration worn by women, children and men in South Asia. The word bindi comes from bindu in Sanskrit, which means a drop, small particle, a dot. Bindis traditionally are red but also come in other colors. The dot is made using vermilion or tikka powder. The bindi is placed in the center of a woman’s forehead, close to her eyebrows. Sometimes the bindi is jewelry rather than a red dot. Many consider the bindi as representative of the mystic third eye. The bindi is often a social symbol much like a wedding band. Red represents good fortune in the new home of the bride.

What do Bindis mean?

By Stephany Elsworth, eHow Contributor

The bindi, or kumkum, is a small dot or marking that is customarily worn between the eyebrows. The bindi mark has multiple meanings and uses within the Hindu tradition.

FAQ: What does the red dot on the forehead mean?

The ‘Red dot’ on the forehead is not always only red and nor is it always a dot. The dot is called ‘Kumkum’ or ‘Bindi’, and when worn by men it is called ‘Tilak’ (mark). Usually Hindu women, priests, monks and worshippers wear it.

Men wear it on auspicious occasions such as Puja (ritual worship), or marriage, or Arati (waving of lights) on festive occasions such as on Bhaai-duj, Karvaa Chaud or Paadwaa or Dasshera) or while embarking on, or upon return from a voyage or a campaign. It is also worn by Jains and Buddhists (even in China).

Like all Hindu symbols, ‘red dot’ has multiple meanings which are all valid at the same time. Let us explore them:

1. By one simple interpretation it is a cosmetic mark used to enhance beauty.

2. In meditation, this very spot between the eyebrows (Bhrumadhya) is where one focuses his/her sight, so that it helps concentration. Most images of Buddha or Hindu divinities in meditative pose with their eyes nearly closed show the gaze focused between eyebrows (other spot being the tip of the nose – naasikagra).

3. All Self-realized saints from India (such as Saint Jnaneshwar, Saint Tukaram) as well as West describe their experience of seeing ‘a bright flame (Jyoti)’ of the size of a little finger tip at this spot. They ‘see’ this jyoti both with their eyelids closed and even with the eyes open, hence the term ‘seer’. This is the mystical meaning behind Kumkum. ‘Siddha Siddhant Paddhati’ of Gorakshanath (circa 11th century) describes a linga-shaped jyoti at the spot.

4. Swami Muktanand writes ‘auspicious Kumkum or sandal wood paste is applied (between the eyebrows) out of respect for inner Guru. It is the Guru’s seat.
There is a chakra (center of spiritual energy within human body) here called Ajna (Aadnyaa) chakra meaning ‘Command center’. Here you receive the Guru’s command to go higher in Sadhana (spiritual practice) to the ‘Sahasraar’ (seventh and final chakra) which leads to Self-realization. The flame seen at the eyebrow is called ‘Guru Jyoti’. (From Finite to Infinite, by Swami Muktananda, SYDA Foundation, S. Fallsburg, NY, 1989, pp. 88-89)

5. The encyclopedic dictionary of Yoga informs that this ‘Ajna Chakra’ is also called as the ‘Third eye’. This center is connected with the sacred syllable ‘Om’ and presiding it is ‘ParaaShiva’. After activation of this center, the aspirant overcomes ‘Ahamkar’ (ego or sense of individuality), the last hurdle on the path of spirituality (Encyclopedic dictionary of Yoga, by Georg Fuerstein, Paragon House Publications, NY, 1990, p. 15). Thus the monks apply the auspicious mark of Kumkum on the forehead as an act of worship to the inner Guru to overcome ego. It is also the same reason why married women wear the ‘red dot’. After marriage Hindu women give up their name. They take the pains of pregnancy and delivery, yet the child carries father’s name. This selfless sacrifice is done out of love, and for the sake of family and society. It is for this reason wearing the red dot is considered a sign of ‘Soubhagya (good fortune)’, because sacrificing you ego and performing selfless action out of love is considered a sacred act and a good fortune.

6. Magsaysay Award winning Pandurang Shastry Athawale who is kindling ‘back to Vedic basics’ spirit, writes ‘Tilak is not a mere cosmetic adornment, or sign of being religious, it is a symbol of worship of intellect.

Worship of intellect is trusting your own intellect AND other’s intellect, especially in the fields you do not have enough knowledge. Intellectual honesty and its worship have been corner stones of Hindu thought. At the end of Gita (18:63), Bhagwan Krishna asks Arjun ‘Vimrushyaita dasheshena yathechhasi tathaa Kuru’ ‘Fully THINK (ponder) on what I said and then do as YOU deem fit’. Indian scriptures ask ‘Drushtipootam nyasetpaadam, vastra pootam pibet jalam’ – Look (think) before you leap (embark on any activity) and ‘filter the water with a cloth before you drink’.

It is this intellectual honesty that made losers in debates such as Mandan Mishra sincere followers of the victors like Shankaracharya. Shankaracharya writes ‘If Vedas tell that fire is cold, then I will not accept that. But at the same time I am confident that Vedas will never tell me such things’.

Kathopanashad calls intellect as the charioteer. Body is a chariot, Indriyas (sense/cognitive organs) are horses, mind is the reins to be used to control them, Atman (Self) is the rider within, and Vishay (objects of senses) are the tracks on which horses run. (Sanskruti Poojan, by Pandurang Shastry Athawale, Sadvichar Darshan Trust, Mumbai, 1988, pp.225-8 in Hindi/Marathi/Gujarati) Shastryji also mentions tilak as the ‘third eye’ of Shiva and reminds that Shiva destroyed Madan (God of desire) by opening the third eye. Thus the Tilak asks us to not look at women as object of desires, but look with ‘Bhaav’- respect, honor and worship for their sacrifice for the family and society. 20.

It is intellect worship the Kumkum symbolises. Hence a victor returning from a campaign is applied a Tilak. It asks us to overcome the ego, be selfless, yet asks to do all actions/ work/ worship with intellect.


By Jit Majumdar

1. point; mark; drop; dot; spot

2. mark; symbol; truth; primal origin; infinity; absolute; immeasurable; subtle; the primal cause; the cosmic seed; pearl

3. the dot in Indian alphabets that represents the Anusvāra which is associated with Śiva and Śakti and is of metaphysical significance; in Tāntrika philosophy, the primordial state of Śiva and Śakti in which they are united and undifferentiated, and exist as the zero-point of all creation.

Yantra: Vedic Power Symbols

The Dot (bindu)
For example, the dot (•
or the bindu) signifies the focalized energy and its intense concentration. It can be envisaged as a kind of energy deposit which can in turn radiate energy under other forms. The dot is usually surrounded by different surfaces, either a triangle, a hexagon, a circle etc. These forms depend on the characteristic of the deity or aspect represented by the Yantra. In the tantric iconography, the dot is named bindu;
in tantra bindu is symbolically considered to be Shiva himself, the source of the whole creation.

Bindi morphs into hip accessory

By Sadhna Shanker, Thursday, October 6, 2005; also in Deccan Herald October 13, 2005

“The wonderful thing about the bindi today is that you can vary the shape and color to suit your facial structure, mood, or dress and use the line, dot, tear drop, serpent – whatever you want. It makes me feel very ethnic,” says Julia Simlai, a lecturer in geography at the Isabella Thoburn Degree College in Lucknow…

Interestingly, it’s not the soap heroines but the villainous women sporting bindis with intricate patterns that include serpents, skulls or even scorpions who have become the fashion icons…

The bindi, which comes from the Sanskrit word “bindu,” meaning “point” or “drop,” has been part of the Indian cultural landscape for centuries. Its placing has tremendous significance. According to tradition, the spot between the eyebrows – “ajna chakra” – is believed to be the seat of concealed wisdom and the center point of all existence. While meditating, latent energy is said to rise from the base of the spine and move toward the head to this command spot, or ajna, which is the outlet for this energy. The red bindi is said to retain this energy and thus enhance concentration. Men, especially those on a spiritual path and bridegrooms, also use bindis, but it is primarily a feminine decoration.

In older times it was applied using red turmeric and later zinc oxide. The perfect round shape was achieved by practice.

Even today, for many women the bindi has tremendous symbolic significance. “I always wear a small red dot, even at night, as I consider it auspicious and it reaffirms my married status,” says Sangeeta Bansal, who is from a traditional family and has childhood memories of widows with blank foreheads.

The Culture of Bindi – Tiatr Review [probably from the Herald, Goa] EXTRACT

Bindi or tika, pottu, sindoor, tilak, tilakam and kumkum worn on the forehead is a very important sacred part of dressing up of Hindu women. Bindi is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘bindu’ or drop. It is supposed to signify the mystic ‘third eye’ of a person. The very positioning of the bindi is significant. The area between the eyebrows is the seat of latent wisdom. This area is known as the Ajna or 6th chakra, meaning ‘command’. Chakras are the centres of psychic energy in the human body. It is said to control various levels of concentration attained through meditation. The central point of this area is the “Bindu” wherein all experience is gathered in total concentration.

Tantric tradition has it that during meditation, the Kundalini, the latent energy that lies at the base of the spine, is awakened and rises to the point of sahasrara situated in the head or brain. The central point, the bindu, becomes therefore a possible outlet for this potent energy. It is believed that the red kumkum lies between the eyebrows to retain [this] energy in the human body

Men wore central vermilion dot as a mark of spiritual intelligence. The forehead dot known as the “urna” is found on the 2nd and 3rd century AD sculptures of Lord Buddha. Today most men* wear kumkum specifically during worship or religious ceremonies. *Hindu men

The Bindi on her Forehead – Tiatr Review [by Meher Castelino, probably from the Herald, Goa] EXTRACT

The position of the bindi is between the eyebrows probably where the mythical third eye is believed to be.

Hinduism Glossary of terms

Bindu or Vindu

(1) A point, a metaphysical point. (2) Undivided Light of Consciousness. (3) The compact mass of sakti gathered into an undifferentiated point ready to create (4) Parah pramata, the Highest Self or Consciousness. (5) Anusvara or nasal sound, suggesting the fact that Siva in spite of the manifestation of the universe is undivided. (6) A specific teja or light appearing in the centre of the eye-brows by the intensity of meditation.


Written also as Vindu, a point; a metaphysical point; ghanibhuta sakti – the compact mass of Sakti gathered into pramata -the highest Self or Consciousness; the anusvara or nasal sound indicated by a dot on a letter indicating the fact that Siva in spite of the manifestation of the universe is undivided.

Release Tension: Put tilak on forehead

Tilak, which is made with the soils collected from different places of pilgrimage has unlimited benefits. Application of soil tilak on the forehead means a strong curtain to keep the mind pious.

Tilak is a mark made on forehead as an emblem which can be made with many things like sandalwood paste, vermilion, cinnabar, ashes etc. But the tilak, which is made with the soils collected from different places of pilgrimage has unlimited benefits. In the ancient time, people used to wash their hands with soils. Germ killing capability of the soil is even recognized by the modern science. Put anything in soil and soil annihilates it within a few days. Hence soil is an excellent medium for smearing the body.

Application of soil tilak on the forehead means a strong curtain to keep the mind pious. A tilak on the forehead also depicts upward movement of spinal nerve from the base of the heart to the top of the brain. Every thought that arise in our mind first of all triggers a vibration in the nerves of the brain. With those vibrations, brain stimulates all the sense and motor organs to act in a coordinated way. Hence purity of thoughts and distortion free brain is necessary for faithful execution of the thought. A spot on the forehead between the eyebrows is known as the “fore center”. Whenever thinking gets intense, one feels slight pain at that spot. Hence, our sages made provision of applying a tilak at this spot to relieve it from unnecessary tension. Even the most distrusting people prefer to apply a tilak with sandalwood paste on their forehead when they suffer from severe headache. Isn’t it wonderful?

Feeling Pressure on my Third Eye

Question: “I am getting tingling in the middle of the forehead; it is just like a heartbeat. Why is it happening? Please explain.”

Psychic Advice:
Feeling pressure on your third eye in the middle of your forehead is one of the symptoms of third eye opening, and tingling or pulsing like a heartbeat can be third eye opening vibrations. The third eye is also called the “brow chakra” or the 6th chakra, and it is the center of your intuition in the world. When your third eye opens, it means that your intuition is increasing, allowing you to see life and the world more clearly.
The Third Eye can be called the “all-seeing eye” because you can see and perceive many more levels and dimensions of truth and reality. In ancient times, seers were often blinded so they would not be distracted by the illusions of physical sight. Insight is far more powerful than eyesight, so you can see much more accurately with the minds’ eye.
If you are wondering how to develop power of the third eye, you can start by closing your eyes gently, and focus all of your attention on the middle of your forehead. Allow the feeling of tingling or pulsing, or feeling pressure on your third eye. Simply relax, and focus light in that area. Imagine that inside your forehead is like a blank screen, and allow the Universe to project images onto that screen. At first you may see only light, but as you continue meditating to open the third eye, you may start to “see” symbols, images and other impressions. Pay attention to them, because they can be very quick and fleeting, like dreams. Do not be too eager or anxious, because impatience can stop the flow of intuitive impressions – simply relax, let it come to you, and let your guides and the Universe communicate with you.
You can visualize that there is a beautiful gem (like a diamond, amethyst or ruby) in the center of your forehead. This will help you focus your intuitive energy, and it will also protect your third eye as it opens so you are not overwhelmed with psychic impressions. The Hindus place a bindi (usually a jewel or a dot) on the brow chakra because it is believed that all energy in the human body is generated to this point, and wearing the bindi concentrates it.
The Kundalini energy rises from the base of the spine and moves towards the head; a bindi placed between the eyebrows retains the vital energy in the human body and promotes a high level of concentration.

Importance of the Tilak

Deccan Chronicle, August 4, 2005 EXTRACT

In Hindu tradition, during ritual worship, a tilak or a mark is applied in the centre of the forehead just above the eyebrows… A mark of auspiciousness, tilak is applied at the Ajna Chakra, the location of the third eye or the inner conscience. Chakras are psychic centres also known as consciousness potentials. According to Tantra Yoga, tilak on the forehead helps retain energy from Kundalini in the body and control all the aspects of concentration useful for meditation.

The size and shape and colour of the tilak indicate the beliefs of the worshipper who adorns it. 22.

Devotees of Shiva adorn foreheads with three parallel horizontal lines, followers of Vishnu adorn their foreheads with a U-shaped symbol, and worshippers of Shakti or Devi use a round dot. Some people combine the symbols of Vishnu and Shiva to signify the oneness of the Supreme Being…

Rules governing the location, method and style of applying a tilak are quite detailed. Women are advised to apply one with the base of their ring finger and the men with their thumbs…

[The tilak] is even considered as a protection against bad spirits, ghosts, evil influences, and nightmares.

Catholic shrines draw Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims

By Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor August 23, 2004

LOURDES, France (Reuters) In an unexpected twist of globalisation, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and other pilgrims regularly worship at famous Roman Catholic shrines to the Virgin Mary such as Lourdes in France and Fatima in Portugal.

The sight of some south Asian women in splendid saris mingling with the European pilgrims is the first hint that reverence for Mary has crossed religious borders.

Standing near the grotto where she was said to have appeared in 1858, two women wearing the Hindu red dot or “bindi” on their foreheads said they prayed daily to the Madonna. “I come here for peace of mind and heart,” said Buvaneswary Palani, a Hindu from southeastern India who now lives in southern France.

Hindus criticise Christmas stamp

November 1, 2005

A Christmas stamp depicting a Hindu couple worshipping baby Jesus has been criticised as “disrespectful” but Royal Mail has refused to withdraw it.

The stamp, featuring a man and woman with Hindu markings, is one of six depicting images of Madonna and child from around the world.

The Hindu Forum of Britain has asked for it to be re-designed without the Hindu markings or withdrawn.

Royal Mail, while apologetic, said it was not possible to amend or withdraw.

A Royal Mail spokesman apologised for any “unintentional offence” caused to the Hindu community by the 68p stamp, taken from a 17th century picture.

The image features a man with a “tilak” marking on his forehead, identifying him as a Vaishnava Hindu, while the woman has the traditional “kumkum” mark on her forehead identifying her as a married Hindu woman.

The original painting hangs in a Mumbai gallery.

A Royal Mail spokesman said: “It was common for Hindu artists during that period to paint images that depicted western culture, including paintings about Christianity.

“The stamp simply features a Hindu artist’s interpretation of Christianity’s Madonna and Child scene.

“However the Royal Mail does apologise for any unintentional offence caused to the Hindu community.”

The Hindu Forum of Britain, an umbrella body representing more than 250 Hindu organisations, called the stamp “disrespectful” and questioned its use.

Artistic license

Secretary General of the Hindu Forum, Ramesh Kallidai, said: “Royal Mail sources claim that the original painting printed on the face of the stamp is dated 1620.

“While many people doubt the authenticity of the age of the painting, we believe that even if this were true, it would be insensitive to use it at a time when the issue of conversions in India has been a subject of heated debate.

“Even if we accept that an artist in 1620AD took the artistic license to portray practising Hindus worshipping the baby Christ, we should be asking if this is politically and sensitively correct in the 21st century.”

He asked for it to be withdrawn or re-designed without the Hindu markings.

“The use of Hindu images in an appropriate manner has never been an issue,” he added. “It is only when images are used in a disrespectful or inappropriate way resulting in offence and hurt that we become concerned.”

The above news was published in, among others, the Deccan Chronicle [UK Hindus angry with Jesus stamp] and the New Indian Express [Row between Royal Mail, Hindus intensifies] of November 3. The stamp was finally withdrawn, 23.



All she wants to do is Dance…
[This is a radical Hindu site]

March 18, 2006 [article about a Muslim girl into performing a Hindu dance form, not reproduced here]

COMMENT by “ashvin” March 20:

Apart from Bharathanatyam and Yoga, I’ve heard some Indian Christians even raise objections to the wearing of bindis/ bottus — perhaps because of [their] religious significance? But thankfully most Indian Christians I know don’t have a problem with any of the above and we’re all better off because of it.

COMMENT by “Shiva” March 21:

As a rule among Christian Indians, you will find Catholic women wearing the bindi with the mangalsutra (and men who have taken to sporting tilaks of sandal paste in church). Not so among Protestants. I used to know a Protestant who was born a raised a Tamil Brahmin who embraced Christianity fairly late in life (in his 20s). His family is verrry vegetarian (no cakes even because it contains eggs). Yoga and Bharatanatyam are certainly rooted in Hindu tradition and if someone feels conflicted about learning these disciplines they require understanding and support. OTOH when it comes to Hindustani music it is one happy confluence. Ustad Rais Khan who migrated to Pakistan many years ago brought his son to Bombay for his debut after which of course happened after a puja at Siddhi Vinayak (where else?). Why talk about brothers and sisters from other faiths? In fact among Tamil Brahmins some Iyengar families have problems with their daughters learning Bharatanatyam whose presiding deity is Natarajan and Sabhapathy – Shiva himself. Of course Narayana is Ranganathan. But I guess Shiva and Narayana are in charge of different stages?

Conversion violence

By Swami Dayananda Saraswati

A committed Christian will not
wear a tilakam, much less have rangoli, in front of the house. If there is no rangoli at the entrance to a Tamil Nadu house, we immediately know that it doesn’t belong to a Hindu.

Tamil Nadu: A thousand Dalit Christians reconvert to Hinduism

By Nirmala Carvalho April 14, 2008
In a single ceremony Dalits take on oath for Hinduism and sign an affidavit. Caste discrimination is affecting the local Church. New Delhi (AsiaNews) – A thousand Dalit Christians were reconverted to Hinduism today, the 117th anniversary of the birth of Bhimrao Ambedkar, the messiah of the Dalits, in the town of Tirunelveli (Tamil Nadu).
Arjun Sampath, president of the Hindu Makkal Katchia (HMK), a local political party, announced that “185 Christian Dalit families from villages in Tirunelveli district will formally return to Hinduism.”
The function involved an atonement ritual (prayaschitha yagam) followed by a purification rite (sudhi chadangu).
“We’ll purify all those who return to Hinduism by sprinkling Ganga theertha (Ganga water) and Sethu theertha (sethu water),” Arjun said, adding that all of them would also get sacred Hindu names as well.
Those who want to follow the Shiva (Saiva) cult will be given sacred ash (bhasmam) and a string of dark berries of elaeocarpus ganitrus (rudraksha).
Followers of Vishnu will get a mark on their forehead (tilak) and a string of holy basil (tulsi).
All Christian Dalits who return to the Hindu fold will get a formal initiation (mantra deeksha) in both Sanskrit and Tamil.
Indeed a statement of faith is not enough for the HMK. “The members who return to Hindu fold will take an oath [. . .] and sign affidavits. Later, we’ll get the conversion certificates from Arya Samaj to get their names changed in the Gazette,” Arjun said. What is more, the HMK is also planning to re-convert another 20,000 Christians in Villupuram district, starting next August.


Since these South Indian converts to the Vaishnavite sect of Hinduism were ritually welcomed with a tilak on their foreheads along with a purification rite and new Hindu names – a type of baptism, it is an indisputable fact that the tilak is a sign of being a Hindu. A similar story from North India follows:

Orissa Christians made an offer they can’t refuse

Vijaita Singh, Kandhamal, Orissa, October 10, 2008

Days after he fled his home, there was something that stood between Hari Chand Digal and his home, his paddy field, two cows and 15 goats. He had to give up his faith if he wanted his home. So one morning 15 days ago, Digal, 42, finally gave in and lowered his head. A barber shaved off his hair, holy water was sprinkled on him and in a chatter of mantras, he was made a Hindu again… Digal, a Christian villager, was among those who lost their homes on August 26 in his Minia village, 250 kilometers east of Bhubaneswar, the state capital. It was gutted by arsonists. 24.

He and his family had to take shelter in the nearby jungles. He stayed in a relief camp for days, like the other displaced people huddled in shelters in Kandhamal district, Bhubaneswar and Cuttack. Then, he and 70 other families were offered a deal: he could return to his village and have his property back if he became a Hindu…
Next door, Digal’s neighbour Prashant Digal, 28, also a Christian, sports a red tilak on his forehead to show he is now a Hindu.
Prashant was Christian until 15 days ago…

What made Hindus angry in Karnataka

François Gautier

October 6, 2008 Digest no. 1014 October 13, 2008 EXTRACT

Newlife, one important western-funded missionary centre (, began making conversions in and around Mangalore by accosting poor people in market areas, or in bus stands, befriending them and then taking them to churches to introduce them to the father.

Upon introduction they were paid Rs 2,500 per person and then taken to the Velankanni shrine, in Tamil Nadu, where they would get another Rs. 3,000.

When they finally converted to Christianity by changing the name, they got an incentive of Rs 10,000 onwards.

Newlife would then give them instructions to abandon wearing tilak on forehead, not to visit and offer prayers at the Hindu temples, replacing the photos and idols of Hindu gods and goddesses with a Cross, etc.

New rule in temple town against Christian evangelization

July 20,2006 Tirupati (ICNS) Charging that Christian missionaries are carrying out evangelical and conversion activities in the Hindu temple town of Tirupati, the temple authorities have made it mandatory for all employees to sport a
on their foreheads. Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) that manages the affairs of Lord Venkateswara temple, on Wednesday issued direction to all its 10,000 employees to sport a ’tilak’ on their forehead. ‘Tilak’ is a mark of Hindu auspiciousness. Officials said the new rule has been issued amid allegations that some employees were helping in the evangelical activities like distributing pamphlets among pilgrims visiting the temple located on Tirumala Hills.
By sporting a ’tilak’ the employees would be expressing their firm faith in Hindu religion and desist from any move, which violates the sanctity of the place, authorities said.

Common Hindu traditions are always ridiculed. For example application of bindi, tilak sindoor are jeered at as devil eye and related to satanic spirits. “Even though tilak is considered a symbol of Shiva by the Hindus, the use of these symbols is dangerous and gives them an opportunity to come under the influence of satanic spirit. Thus girls beware,” says the book published by Masihi Sahitya Sanstha (see Hindi translation of Sex, Love and Marriage by Zac Poonen, p. 102).

From HINDUISM TODAY December 1986

A bimonthly published by the Saiva Siddhanta Church with headquarters in Hawaii, U.S.A. EXTRACT:

G.M. Jagtiani of Bombay wrote: “A mischievous attempt is being made by some Christian missionaries to wear the saffron robe, put tilak on their forehead, recite the Gita and convert the Hindus to Christianity.”

Hindu Manners, Customs and Ceremonies

By Abbé J. A. Dubois, 3rd edition, 1906. Pages 111, 119, 628-631

“Siva-bhaktas or votaries of Siva are also called Lingdaris. The distinctive sign of the Sivaites is, generally speaking, the Lingam.”

It is difficult to conceive [of] anything more
than the meaning of the two marks of Hindu worship, namely the Lingam and the Namam*,” adds Henry K. Beauchamp, editor of the book. *Tilak


Dubois, a French Catholic missionary, should know. He spent 31 years living in South Indian villages.

Scandalous Ecumenism with Hinduism

SSPX Newsletter of the District of Asia,
July-December 2003, Lawrence D’Souza

The mass is said squatting on the ground, on a little table surrounded by small lamps. The priestly vestments were completely cast away, the celebrant being in his civil clothes wears a saffron shawl with the character OM in its centre. All the mantras and prayers in this abominable mass begin with ‘OM‘. ‘Tilak’ is applied on the foreheads of priests and people.

Hinduism at a Glance

SSPX Newsletter of the District of Asia,
July-December 2003, Lawrence D’Souza 25.

In the Hindu practices, even that which appears as a merely social element is not really free of the ‘spiritual’ significance (I mean in the occult sense) such as men and women applying the red powder (Tilak) on their foreheads which signifies the third eye of Shiva known as “Jnana-Chakshu,”, (Eye of Wisdom) from which flows the ‘river of fire’ and destroys everything, for Shiva is the destroyer of the worlds (hellish indeed).


Lawrence D’Souza was a Catholic seminarian at the Pius X Major seminary in Goregaon in Mumbai, who along with Gregory Noronha, Anthony Alphonso and Anthony Rodrigues joined the schismatic Lefebvrist movement [Society of St. Pius X] and pursued seminary studies in the SSPX’s Australian seminary in 2003. He later returned to the Catholic Church and rejoined the seminary in Mumbai to continue his priestly studies.

The Indian Rite of the Mass

You are at St. Ann’s Church, Toronto, Canada. It is July 2, 2006 during Sunday Mass. The co-celebrating priests are at left above, Fr. Thomas D’Sa from India and to his right, the parish priest of St. Ann’s. Fr. D’Sa is the Director of the National Biblical Catechetical Liturgical Centre, NBCLC, a department of the Conference of Catholic Bishops in India, which officially endorses and promotes this Indian Rite of the Mass.

In the first part of the Mass, equivalent to the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar, the girls dance and sing in honor of the Holy Trinity, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, above. However, the chant features the mantra “OM,” the supreme vibration in Hinduism. OM also represents the Hindu trinity Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.

During the Mass both priests sport a white dot between their eyebrows. The most common meaning of this dot is to proclaim oneself Hindu.

Hindu “Mass” Sparks Violent Altercation in Toronto Churchyard

By Cornelia R. Ferreira

There are several varieties and meanings for this dot, the first being that the wearer proclaims he is a Hindu. The location between the eyebrows is supposed to be a center of spiritual energy and a focus of meditation.
The dot in that position represents the “third eye” of divine inner sight — i.e., of occult knowledge and abilities — and awareness of unity with the universe, which Hindus seek to awaken. Focusing on the god within, the dot is a symbol of the worship of the intellect.

14. Articles on the dot can be found at; _9/msg00176.html;; and

Hindu services blessed by Catholic prayers

April 14 2009
A unique one-of-a-kind in the world Hindu Baccalaureate Service was held at University of Nevada-Reno (UNR) in USA on Saturday where the graduating students touched the feet of a Swami (monk) to seek his blessings and where a Catholic priest read his blessing prayer.
Attended by Nevada’s first lady Dawn Gibbons and Provost of UNR Marc Johnson, the Service at this top research university included a bhajan (devotional song) “Radhe Radhe Govinda” by famous performer Jim Eaglesmith and the graduating students chanted after him. Tilak (religious mark) was applied on students’ foreheads and they sought blessings from the burning flame, which was passed around.

Organized by acclaimed Hindu statesman Rajan Zed and Indian Student Organization (ISO) at state-supported UNR established in 1864, it started and ended with “Gayatri Mantra” (the most sacred verse from Rig-Veda, oldest scripture of the world composed around 1,500 BCE) recited by Rajan Zed. Traditional lamp was lighted before the statue of goddess Saraswati, patron of learning and the arts. Laddoos, ceremonially prepared by senior Hare Krishna devotee Annabelle Younger, were distributed as prasad (blessed food) to the participants.
Swami Vedananda, a well-known Hindu monk from California, in his keynote address, blessed the upcoming graduates with wisdom from Vedas, Upanishads and Bhagavad-Gita, all ancient Hindu scriptures. Although a Hindu Baccalaureate, it also included Hebrew prayer from Torah, Buddhist prayer in Pali, prayer from Koran in Arabic, Native American blessing in Paiute, besides prayer blessings by Catholic, Presbyterian, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, International Community of Christ, and Baha’i religious leaders.
There is a renewed interest in Baccalaureate services, which originated at Oxford University in 1432 when each bachelor was required to deliver a sermon in Latin. Very popular event in various universities including Columbia, Dartmouth, Tufts, Indiana, etc., it usually included traditional Christian worship service but now many hold interfaith services.

Indian Church Divided on Inculturation Strategy to Entice Hindu Converts EXTRACT
Mario Rodrigues, The Statesman November 2, 2005

A conclave of priests and bishops at the Papal Seminary in Pune last week called for the renewed “Indianisation” of the Catholic Church and the adoption of
Hindu rituals, including
aarti during Mass, studying Sanskrit and the Vedas, experiencing ashram life and so on. … 26.

Today, Indianisation of the Church has come a long way. How far down the road of Indianisation the post-Conciliar Church here has travelled can be deduced from the fact that new-age churches are modelled after temples, the “Indian rite mass” (conceived by Cardinal Parecattil of the Syro-Malabar Church and the Jesuit [sic]
Dr Amalorpavadas of the Latin Church, “masterminds” behind the inculturation movement in India) incorporates (Brahminical) Hindu rituals such as the chanting of Vedic and Upanishadic mantras.
Prayers begin with “OM”, readings are taken from the Hindu scriptures such as the Bhagvad Gita, tilak is applied to foreheads of priests and people, priests wear a saffron shawl instead of a cassock and sit on the ground at a table surrounded by small lamps rather than stand at the traditional altar.

Behind the Namaskar,%20%20Shivraj%20Singh%20Chauhan,%20Surya%20namas

Editorial, The New Indian Express, September 1, 2009

Even as the BJP remains embroiled in internal disputes, an issue which is tangentially related to the leadership tussle has surfaced in Madhya Pradesh. It is the belief that the party overtly and covertly plays the Hindutva card irrespective of whether a hardliner like Narendra Modi or a moderate like Shivraj Singh Chauhan is in charge of its government. Although the latter told his election rallies earlier in the year that Hindutva is vikas, his government has long been insisting on making the yogic exercise, Surya Namaskar, a part of the extra-curricular activities in schools.

The argument that the homage to the sun has nothing to do with Hinduism, unlike, say, the Saraswati Vandana, which was Murli Manohar Joshi’s favourite, will not be easily accepted if only because of the state government’s political complexion. Not unexpectedly, the minority educational institutions obtained a stay order from the Bhopal high court. It said that the obeisance to the sun could not be made a compulsory event in schools.

Normally, this should have been the end of the matter. But the BJP is nothing if not driven by deep veneration for the faith of its choice. So, despite the two-year-old judicial diktat, at least two Christian missionary schools in Jhabua and Rajgarh were not only asked to hold the programme once a week, but also warned that the local authorities would keep a watch on whether they were complying with the order.

Given this show of defiance, either deliberately or inadvertently because the government’s promise to the judiciary had not percolated down to the lower levels of the administration, the high court has had to reiterate that the ritual could only be optional. Apart from the Catholic Church, the Jamiat-e-ulema Hind (which should not be confused with the fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami) had also approached the high court in this matter.

But it isn’t only a question of the high court overruling a religious observance. What is more important is a typical attempt by a BJP government, first, to reassert its Hindu credentials to the students, parents and the general public and, secondly, to create a divide between those who may opt for the Surya Namaskar and those who will not. It is the achievement of this sectarian objective which is apparently at the root of a programme, which the state government must have known will not cross the judicial hurdle.


which a-hole wrote this..????? Surya Namaskar is a great exercise and Pranayama +Yoga should be compulsory in our schools so that our kids have the character and compassion to execute their dharma in modern materialistic world bombarded by trashy ads ,encouraging negative stereotypes and brain-dead reality tv. I am sick of this pseudo-secularism and west-obsessed low-self-esteem journos. When did Yoga and Saraswati Vandana became intolerant and fascist???…Those who think so can go to Paki-land or America. India is for Indians…..Get a grip m-fker. By Kannan

Doing Suryanamaskara & Yoga is good for an individual personally. The west is also looking towards these practices. There should be no problem to make them compulsory. In fact this should be practised across India. A govt. like Gujarat should rule the nation. Only then we will get back our lost glory. By Suchithra

It is not clear who wrote this piece. There is a clear bias in the narration and presentation of facts. Well, if you are worth your salt, then write a piece on the matter of Christian schools barring Hindu girls from wearing Bindi and bangles across the country!! Let’s see what you will pen. You say the native culture of this land is sectarian because some of our citizens want to follow Semitic culture and therefore anything native becomes “sectarian”? You are Roman when in Rome, but not Indian when in India?! Think before you write something. By Kishore

Sacrosanctum Concilium and Inculturation of Liturgy in the Post-Conciliar Indian Catholic Church

By Jon Douglas Anderson

“Theology and Inculturation in India” Directed Study, Summer-Autumn 2009, with Dr. Michael Sirilla [Associate Professor of Theology], Franciscan University of Steubenville

We learn from the commentary of [Fr] Amalorpavadass that this is precisely the case. He explains that there are, in fact, just such ritualized gestures offered to each [during the Indian rite Mass- Michael]:

To the Celebrant-President … Pushparati with a tray of flowers (with a burning wick or incense stick place in it) is offered to the priest as he reaches the sanctuary after the bhajan singing (prior to arati he may be given the tilak with sandal paste and kumkum)… 28.

NOTE: Read Jon Anderson’s paper and my response to it at

Yoga-A Path to God?

By Louis Hughes, OP, Mercier Press, 1997


The ashram’s chapel is intended to remind one of a Hindu temple. Its cave-like sanctuary opens out into a forest of stone pillars that seem to merge into the nearby trees. At the times of prayer saffron-clad monks and other worshippers sit cross-legged on the floor. Here the daily Indian-rite Eucharist is celebrated with Sanskrit chants to the accompaniment of Indian musical instruments such as sitar and tabla. Extracts from the Vedas, Upanishads, Sufi and Buddhist mystics, as well as Biblical readings, are incorporated into the Church’s Morning and Evening liturgies. All the Services are rich in symbolism whose origins are Hindu rather than Christian:
(the slow circular movement of lighted camphor) before the Blessed Sacrament, chanting of the sacred syllable Om
and the placing of tilak, coloured powder or paste on the worshippers’ foreheads as a sign of welcome. There are two one-hour meditation periods daily, coinciding with dawn and sunset.

New Church Dedicated to St Gonsalo Garcia Inaugurated in Vasai

Bishop Thomas Dabre

Mumbai, February 10, 2009 – A New church dedicated to the native saint Gonsalo Garcia was inaugurated by Thomas Dabre, Bishop of Vasai on February 8 at 5pm. The church is located near the Bishop’s House in Vasai which is also known as New Barampur area. This new parish has a large number of Konkani-speaking people.
“The entire Vasai Diocese is for the people of all languages,” declared the Bishop while inaugurating the church. “We have worked very hard, hand-in-hand to build this church and the land of agriculture has become the land of God today,” he said.
Vasai, a suburb of Mumbai, is known for Catholics of different ethnicity and for the churches. Historically Vasai has a significant status. Christianity is flourishing here since the last 2000 years. It is said that St Bartholomew, one of the disciples of Jesus, had brought Christianity here.
When the son of the soil Gonsalo Garcia, a Franciscan Friar, who was crucified on February 5, 1597 in Nagasaki Hills, Japan and later canonized on June 8, 1862, the importance of the place grew. St Gonsalo Garcia, born to Portuguese father and a Canarese (resident of the Konkan coast) mother in Bassein (now Vasai), on February 5, 1557 is the first Indian saint and the only male Indian saint of today.
Though Vasai is a small place, it houses about a dozen churches. Because of the pleasant weather and the railway facilities, people keep migrating to this place in large numbers.
Before the inauguration, there was a procession from the Bishop’s House to the newly-built church, accompanied by a brass band. A beautiful dance was presented by the children while entering the gates of the church. The Bishop was then welcomed with the
Aarthi and a

Bishops appoint Vasai priest as new spokesperson

Fr. Dominic D’Abreo

May 15, 2012

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) has appointed Fr. Dominic D’Abreo as its public relations officer.

The priest from Vasai diocese in Maharashtra replaces Divine Word Father Babu Joseph, who held the post for more than nine years.

Fr. D’Abreo is currently the registrar and public relations officer of the National Institute of Social Communication Research and Training, CBCI’s media training institute based at Vaishali on the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border. He will take charge of the new post from June 1. He had done his media studies from the Mumbai-based Xavier Institute of Communications. 29.

The art of following a spiritual quest
February 16, 2011;
February 18, 2011 EXTRACT

Fr. Roy Mathew Thottam SJ

Jesuit Father Roy Mathew Thottam looks every inch an artist, from goatee beard to cream-colored kurta, the long shirt so beloved of poets and artists in India, and the jeans that complete the picture. Balding and looking older than his 45 years, the priest from Kerala is a small figure in the corner of the big hall of the Kolkata Salesian center. Father Thottam holds degrees in fine arts from Christ Church university in Canterbury, in the UK, and folklore from Palayamkottai. He spent a year with veteran Indian Christian artist Jyoti Sahi*, learning from and working with him. He has had five solo exhibitions of his paintings and four group exhibitions. Based in the Jesuit Institute for Religion and Culture in Cochin in Kerala state, the priest has been prolific, producing some 600 paintings over the past 20 years.

*of the seditious CATHOLIC ASHRAMS movement, see

Bangalore: NBCLC Celebrates St Cleophas Feast


News & Pics: Jessie Rodrigues
Daijiworld Media Network – Bangalore (SB) September 28, 2009: It was a joyous moment for the religious, staff of NBCLC and faithful to join in the celebration of St Cleophas feast, the birthday of the director of NBCLC, the first celebration in the centre here recently.

Fr Antony Kalliath*, assistant director of NBCLC in his welcome address appreciated Fr Cleo
[Fr Cleophas Dominic Fernandes] ** for his friendly approach with everyone in the centre.

The programme began with the Holy mass with Fr Cleo as main celebrant and Fr Antony along with Fr Vijay Shanthraj as co-celebrants. This was followed by a cultural programme to felicitate Fr Cleo.

*The two pictures, right above

**The two pictures, left above

The Indian Rite of the Mass*

Fr. Thomas D’Sa

You are at St. Ann’s Church, Toronto, Canada. It is July 2, 2006 during Sunday Mass. The co-celebrating priests are … Fr. Thomas D’Sa from India and … the parish priest of St. Ann’s. Fr. D’Sa is the Director of the National Biblical Catechetical Liturgical Centre, NBCLC, a department of the Conference of Catholic Bishops in India, which officially endorses and promotes this Indian Rite of the Mass.

In the first part of the Mass, equivalent to the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar, the girls dance and sing in honor of the Holy Trinity, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit… However, the chant features the mantra “OM”, the supreme vibration in Hinduism. OM also represents the Hindu trinity Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.

During the Mass both priests sport a white dot between their eyebrows. The most common meaning of this dot is to proclaim oneself Hindu.

*A traditionalist site 29.

Sandesha Foundation for Culture and Education, Mangalore

In the pictures, left to right: Tilak-marked Fr. Valerian Mendonca, Bishop Henry D’Souza of Bellary and Bishop Aloysius Paul D’Souza of Mangalore.

Mangalore, Feb 9, 2010: The Sandesha Foundation for Culture and Education (under the auspices of the Karnataka Regional Catholic Bishops’ Council), organized the Sandesha Awards 2009 presentation Ceremony, on Sunday, 8th February, 2009 at 5.30 p.m. at Sandesha, Premnagar, Bajjodi, Mangalore.

All the guests and the Awardees were traditionally welcomed with Poornakumbha Swagatha by the students at the entrance of Sandesha and the guests were escorted in a ceremonial procession.

An invocation dance was then performed by the students of Sandesha. All the guests were escorted to the dais by Fr. Valerian Mendonca (Director of Sandesha), introduced to the audience and honoured with floral bouquets. .. After the award ceremony, the Chief Guest, Most Rev. Henry D’Souza (Bishop of Bellary), said that he was extremely happy to be present on the occasion and felt that he was back in his home town. He congratulated Sandesha for completing its 20 years and remembered the early stages of its inception in 1989.

Sandesha is a diocesan institution for the propagation of the Hindu temple dance art form of Bharatanatyam. See



She Witnessed Jesus and He Healed Them,

Sr. Dr. Herman Joseph

Mumbai: Inter-Religious Dialogue Held at St Joseph Church

Bishop Agnelo Gracias of Bombay

Rons Bantwal, Daijiworld Media Network – Mumbai, January 16, 2012.

The lively and dynamic St Joseph Church Celebrated the Infant Jesus feast and conducted an Inter-Religious Dialogue session at the Church Grounds here on Sunday January 15 at 6.30 pm.

Auxiliary Bishop of Bombay Dr Agnelo Gracias presided over the solemn festal Eucharistic celebration along with more than eight priests.

Soon after the mass the Inter-religious dialogue session began with a prayer dance by Holy Cross School children.

Dr Agnelo Gracias presided over the event with various speakers from across the religious spectrum.

Dignitaries like Bhagvati Kripa Devi Dasi from Bhakti Vedanta, Islamic Vision Research Center director Dr Ahamad M H Shaikh, secretary of Gurudwara, Paramjit Singh Matharu were present for the event.

The parish priest Fr Dominic Vas OCD welcomed the dignitaries and felicitated them with a bouquet.

The programme was conducted to bring together the members of different religions in order to have communal harmony and to build a peaceful Mira Road.


Alwyn Fernandes, Mangalore Monday, January 16, 2012

Bishop of Bombay Dr Agnelo Gracias looks very handsome with tilak.

St Thomas, Turnabout

Evangelisation isn’t always an eastward wave. It’s Indian ‘shepherds’ who’re flocking to the West.

By Seema Sirohi, Society Magazine
January 1, 2007

Jesus must have smiled … at the Christmas celebration of Indian priests and nuns in Rome.

Cardinal Ivan Dias, the Vatican’s senior most Indian, sat in the front row with a tilak on his forehead having lit the traditional lamp to inaugurate the ceremonies.


Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Pedro Lopez Quintana’s Visit to Vasai

Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Pedro Lopez Quintana

Archbishop Pedro Lopez Quintana, the apostolic Nuncio to India visited the Diocese of Vasai on the 1st to 4th of October 2005. On this occasion, an Interreligious Dialogue meeting was organized at Jeevan Darshan Kendra – the Pastoral Centre of

Diocese of Vasai… Ladies of the Hindu Swadhyaya movement accorded the Archbishop a traditional welcome.

A photograph by Amey Mansabdar in the DNA news agency story, Mumbai, October 3, 2005, shows the prelate sporting a “tilak” on his forehead, apparently the outcome of the “traditional [Hindu] welcome” accorded him by the “Ladies of the Hindu Swadhyaya movement”.


[Fundamentalist Baptist publishing ministry of David Cloud] August 28, 2008

Pope John Paul II received a Hindu tika (tilaka) when he arrived to say Mass in New Delhi, India (L’Osservatore Romano, February 2, 1986).

John Paul II received the mark of the adorers of Shiva [Traditionalist site]

On February 2, 1986, John Paul II received on his forehead the Tilac or Tika, the red powdery paste of the Hindus, the sign of recognition of the adorers of Shiva. This is total idolatry and apostasy.


Pope John Paul II visited New Delhi, India, 5-8 November, 1999. The above picture, taken at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi, on November 7, is sourced from The Hindu newspaper group’s “Frontline” magazine, Volume 16, No. 24.

Apparently, the Pope had been misguided by Indian Church leaders about the significance of the application of tilak on one’s forehead inasmuch the same way as Rome had been earlier misguided by them about the meaning of rituals like the arati as well as other symbols and practices that were eventually permitted in or have found their way into the Indian rite of Mass.

Maria Judith Cross
Sent: Saturday, October 21, 2006 11:28 AM


Dear Brother

Praise the Lord. I had been to Bangalore and returned just yesterday. I had been there with my family for their cousin’s wedding. There I had witnessed priests with sandal wood bottu during the mass … Many who have realised their fault have become Protestants. The things there are so pathetic. You an actually see the slumber and fatigue amongst the religious and priests. I returned with so much of burden in my heart. I was wondering if anyone will ever speak about the wrong leaders and the misled faithful. This mail has added to my burden to pray for the perishing leaders of the church. All I can do at this point of time is to pray for them. I hope I had courage and will power like you to write to the Bishops. Did you get any reply? Thanks and God bless you, Love and regards, Maria, Hyderabad

The evidence that the bottu or tilak is Hindu is overwhelming. However, Austine Crasta, the moderator of the Konkani Catholics yahoo group who has studied theology at a seminary in Mangalore, disagrees:

Query on Indian Marital Symbols

KonkaniCatholics digest no. 1699 dated November 15, 2008

Hello Austine, I have a few queries on wearing/display of Indian marital symbols such as bindis, mangal sutras, red bangles. Is it true that these symbols are against the values of Christianity? A spiritual preacher mentioned that the bindi represents tantrik themes, so does the mangal sutra, etc. What does the Catholic Church say about Christian adaptations of these marital symbols? While they may have a certain connotation in Hinduism, does wearing these symbols imply that one believes in these values? Or can one wear these symbols as a matter of choice and disregard their origin? Looking forward to hearing yours and the community’s views on this. Edwin Coutinho

Whether it is called ‘bottu’ (Kannada/Telugu), or ‘Tikli’ (Marathi) or ‘Chandlo’ in (Gujarati) or ‘Pottu’ (Malayalam), the meaning or symbolism of the bindi (Sanskrit: ‘bindu’ = dot) is difficult to pinpoint except with reference to a particular community and a particular time. Today’s society may consider it no more than a decorative item. Austine Crasta

Before his seminary theology studies, he accepted that yoga is a Hindu practice. Today, he “doesn’t know”!

Another uninformed personal viewpoint by a blogger, and an equally uninformed comment on the blog:

The Bindi and Catholics in India 32.

Kiran Ignatius, Bangalore October 21, 2009

Most Catholic women in India, except for maybe in Kerala and the Konkan coast, wear the bindi, the red dot on the forehead. Most non-Catholic Christians (NCC) object to this as being unchristian/unbiblical.

I think if the bindi is unchristian, then so is the sari, and the masala dosa or the biryani!!!

The bindi, in Indian culture, is used by all women who are not widows as a part of shringara/adornment. The reason widows don’t use it is to show that they don’t care for decorations anymore. But I’m digressing. Hindu belief also holds that the bindi keeps the body’s supernatural energy in check. But, to the everyday Indian woman, it is an accessory to look more beautiful. It is also considered auspicious for the woman.

Because it is such an integral part of the Indian culture, and not necessarily only of Hinduism, the Catholic women never really felt the need to abandon this little red dot which made them so beautiful.

One must make a distinction between Indian Culture and Hindu Belief before passing judgement here.

However, Non-Catholic Christians feel that anything related to Indian culture must be essentially unbiblical and hence unchristian. (This is seen even when children are named. Many NCC would consider Indian names like “Kiran”, “Tarun” to be unchristian, but would happily name their son “Richard” or “Dennis” which are equally unbiblical.)

That’s an interesting idea about the Bindi. As long as the reason is purely aesthetic I don’t think there is anything wrong with it. Especially since it’s such a part of their culture. And to say that it’s not Biblical isn’t sound reason because there are plenty of things not mentioned in the Bible like cheesecake, me, light bulbs, cars and so on. Now if it’s used for Hinduism and things in the like they may want to refrain. I think Catholic Indian women can take part in the Church’s universalness and hold onto their own culture. The Church allows culture, thus we have Italian, Irish, Spanish, South African, French and Chinese Catholics all with their distinct cultures with the Church in common. And to get rid of the Bindi because of its connections to Hinduism would mean to get rid of one of the Indian languages because last time I checked, many Indians speak…Hindi and its not mentioned anywhere in the Bible. Those are just the thoughts of a tired stressed out college student in the middle of the night so there may be some doctrinal errors. I’m sorry if there are. Anonymous


Photos of the release of the New Community Bible [NCB] in the major dioceses can be viewed at

Bible ‘Indianized’ to attract converts

Ottawa Citizen, Citizen News Services, July 26, 2008
Barefoot and wearing a sari, with a bindi on her forehead and a naked baby on her shoulder, the woman in the picture is unmistakably Indian. So is the man behind her, clad in a loincloth and turban. This, however, is no ordinary family. The image is one of the Virgin Mary with Joseph and the baby Jesus in the first “Indianized” version of the Bible, published by the Roman Catholic Church last month. The New Community Bible is part of an attempt by the Vatican to attract more converts in the world’s second-most populous country as congregations decline in Europe and North America.

Vatican aims to spread the word with ‘Indianised’ Bible

By Jeremy Page in Delhi, July 26, 2008

Vatican hopes Indian Bible will translate into surge of converts
Barefoot and wearing a sari, with a bindi on her forehead and a naked baby on her shoulder, the woman in the image is unmistakably Indian. So is the man behind her, clad in a loincloth and turban. They could be any poor family in an Indian village. This, however, is no ordinary family. The image is of the Virgin Mary with Joseph and the baby Jesus in the first ‘Indianised’ version of the Bible, published by the Roman Catholic Church last month.

Gandhi, Mother Teresa Featured in “Indianised” Bible EXTRACT

Posted on July 28th, 2008 in News, Religious by Ron Gold
In an effort to attract converts to Christianity in India, a new version of the Bible has been created that adopts traditional Indian and Hindu beliefs. Now, I’m hardly a believer in the sacredness of the Bible, but even I see this new version as being a bit offensive: Barefoot and wearing a sari, with a bindi on her forehead and a naked baby on her shoulder, the woman in the picture is unmistakably Indian. So is the man behind her, clad in a loincloth and turban. They could be any poor family in an Indian village, or at one of the country’s teeming railway stations. This, however, is no ordinary family.
The image is one of the Virgin Mary with Joseph and the baby Jesus in the first “Indianised” version of the Bible, published by the Roman Catholic Church last month. [

Indian version of Bible draws fire over Hindu references

By Dibin Samuel, August 11, 2008

A new Indian version of the Bible recently published by the Catholic Church has run into controversy over its inclusion of verses from the Bhagavad Gita, a form of Hindu chant, and references to the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi.

An illustration in the new version depicts Jesus, Mary and Joseph as poor Indian villagers. Mary wears a simple sari and has
a bindi on her forehead alongside Joseph in a turban and loincloth. [CRITICISM OF THE NCB]

The Bible takes an Eastern influence

Place for Gandhi in Indian Bible

By Matt Wade, New Delhi,
August 9, 2008

The words of the Bhagavad Gita and the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi have found a place in a controversial Bible published in India. An illustration depicts the holy family as Indian villagers: Mary wears a simple sari and has
a bindi on her forehead, while Joseph has a turban and loincloth.

Christian Missionaries Take Aim At India – Deceptive Bible & Other Questionable Tactics

August 10, 2008

Some of the new tactics employed in the Hindu Bible:

Virgin Mary: Barefoot and wearing a sari, with a bindi on her forehead and a naked baby on her shoulder.

India’s New Bible Wears a Bindi–westhead-india-s-new-bible-wears-a-bindi

By Rick Westhead, South Asia Bureau/Toronto Star, November 7, 2009

Father Devassy Athalathil, a priest at the Society of St. Paul in Mumbai, who spearheaded the effort, says he isn’t worried about a backlash.

The Virgin Mother in a sari, Joseph donning a turban. These are just some of the depictions in an Indianized version of the Bible. The controversy that followed means a toned-down second edition this year.

Mumbai, India– When Mary and Joseph discovered a power-hungry king was hunting their son Jesus Christ, they escaped to the safety of Egypt. But before Christianity’s first family fled, barefoot Mary slipped into a sari and put a bindi on her forehead, while Joseph tied tight his long loincloth and turban. At least, that’s how their flight is illustrated in a Bible produced for Indians.

Released in India last year by the Roman Catholic Church, the “New Community Bible” became an immediate sensation – and lightning rod for controversy.

The Trouble with Depicting Jesus

By Elrena Evans, December 15, 2009

Is a Bible showing the Holy Family in traditional Indian clothes any worse than one depicting them as doe-eyed Caucasians in pastels? 34.

When the New Community Bible first released in 2008, it sold 15,000 hardcover copies in a few short weeks. Yet the resulting hue and cry over certain aspects of the Bible, the first to be produced by Indians, for Indians in simple English, has resulted in a few revisions before the second edition went to print this November. [Picture of Caucasian representation of the Nativity scene]

Why the controversy? Open a copy of the Bible, produced by the Society of St. Paul in Mumbai, and you’ll see no changes to the text. But the accompanying illustrations might look a bit different: the Holy Family, for example, is depicted as poor Indian villagers, with Mary wearing a sari and a bindi, and Joseph wearing a turban and loincloth.


It is not the sari, but the bindi that bothers me. While the mark can be for decoration or to show marriage,
its source is the Hindu third eye or inner eye. It is not technically affiliated with the caste system. However, its Hindu roots should have precluded it from the illustration; anything that encourages continuation of anti-Biblical traditions among Christians should be avoided… K.S., December 29, 2009

Mary in sari in Indian Bible

By Cithara Paul June 13, 2010

Enter, a Bible “by Indians for Indians”, replete with quotes from the Gita
to Gitanjali.

The Indian Church is bringing out an “Indianised” Bible next month that will show Mother Mary wearing a sari and even a
bindi on her forehead, and her husband Joseph in a loincloth and a turban.

Indian church to bring out Indianised form of Bible

June 14, 2010

An Indianized form of the Bible will show Mother Mary wearing a sari and a ‘bindi’ (dot) on her forehead and her husband Saint Joseph in a loincloth and a turban. The Indian Church will bring out this form of Bible in July.

On July 14, 2008, I published an 8-page critique of the New Community Bible [NCB]


Auxiliary Bishop Agnelo Gracias of Bombay issued a response to it. This response was circulated among select bishops and some others who were closely associated with the release of the NCB.

Providentially, a copy of the response reached me. While I have prepared a rebuttal of it in early 2009, I have not yet got around to releasing it because I happened to write 17 further reports on the NCB issue, the last of them in July 2010. The Bishop’s response and my rebuttal are still on the ministry’s backburner, but I reproduce below a point from it which concerns the issue of “the dot”.


The second illustration which Mr. Prabhu objects too [sic] is towards the end of NCB, p.2263. Mr. Prabhu on p.7 of his critique states: “Traditionalists will reject the NCB on the basis of just the one drawing of an Indian woman wearing a bindi (tilak) in the centre of her forehead while preparing to do arati (aarti) or puja with a flame, flowers and a coconut on a plate”. […] I can still affirm that these traditionalists who are out of sync with what the Church allows. “Traditionalists” rejecting the NCB is not surprising. For that matter, we have the “traditionalist” followers of Lefebvre who reject Vatican II!


This is just one example of how
Bishop Agnelo Gracias
has “responded” to my critique. I talk of the problem of the woman depicted with the
bindi; he diverts the subject to comment on “traditionalists” despite clearly understanding what I meant when I explained what their reaction to such pictures would be. But why would he address the bindi issue when he celebrates Mass with the Hindu tilak on his forehead, see page 30?


Astrid Lobo Gajiwala

Astrid Lobo Gajiwala, India, holds a Ph. D in Medicine and is the head of the Tissue Bank in Tata Memorial Hospital. She is a founding member of the Satyashodhak, a Mumbai based group of Christian feminists and is
a member of the CBCI Commission for Women, Mumbai Women’s Desk Core Team. As a writer Astrid has published articles in the journal In God’s Image, Daughters of Sarah, Magnificat, Women’s Link, The Month, Vidyajyoti, Jnanadeep among others; Books: Body, Bread Blood; Community of Men and Women and a couple of others.
EXTRACT “Astrid has a Masters in Microbiology and Doctorate in Medicine, as well as, a Diploma in Tissue Banking and a Diploma in Theology for the Laity. She has published theological reflections in books, theological journals and other publications, worked on the Executive Team and served as a Resource Person for the Ecclesia of Women in Asia, Indian Theological Association, Indian Women’s Theological Forum-Mumbai Women’s Desk and Satyashodhak, a feminist collective. From 1992 she has been a Consulter for the Indian bishops’ CBCI Commission for Women, and the Federation of Asian Bishops Conference (FABC). She has served as Secretary of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, Mumbai, and as a member of the parish council, parish Liturgical Team and core team of the Zonal Basic Christian Communities.

Astrid Lobo Gajiwala is
a visiting faculty member of the St. Pius X College, Mumbai, and the Jesuit Regional Theologate, Gujarat.

Since November 2011, she is also on the editorial board
of The Examiner
the Archdiocesan weekly of Bombay that stood by the errors in the New Community Bible and did not publish even a single one of the almost two dozen [known] letters to the editor condemning it.

She claims to be Catholic, while the Church in India has acclaimed her as a theologian. Is she either of those?

Astrid Lobo Gajiwala has only completed “4 years of part-time study” in “theology for the laity” which Church leaders describe as a “diploma in Theology for the Laity“, and that qualification appears sufficient for the Indian church to recognize her as a theologian who now even teaches our unfortunate seminarians!

On the basis of that “part-time study“, and with the tacit support of some bishops, she has joined other feminist nun-theologians to lead women theologians in an Asian Women Theologians’ Forum.

Ecclesia of Women in Asia [EWA]
— of which she is a key figure — is the forum of Asian Women Theologians. She is one of two Indian lay women in the leadership – the other is Virginia Saldanha.

Ecclesia of Women in Asia [EWA]
has had five Asian conferences from inception till date. I have documented enough of their anti-Catholic deliberations, activities, liturgies and statements for the bishops to be able to come down heavily on them and restrain their movement – if they have the mind and courage to. Their “liturgies” appear to be aberrations of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

As for the EWA discussions on women’s sexuality, vaginas and orgasms, and not excluding an unprintable four-letter word relating to an organ of the female anatomy, the less said by me here, the better.

Gajiwala was felicitated
for having

“contributed to the journey of women’s empowerment in Mumbai”,
receiving her citation
“from Bishop Bosco [Penha] amid loud cheering”. Source: The Examiner,
March 6, 2010.

The Church’s Gender Policy, 2010,
mentions Astrid Lobo Gajiwala as one of those who drafted the document:
Now she uses that to further her demands for women’s ordination.

While ostensibly militating against the sexual abuse of women, and for the “empowerment of women” and “gender parity”, their true goal is the ordination of Indian women as priests. A detailed report on Astrid Lobo Gajiwala is under preparation on the same lines as the parallel reports on her colleague and lay feminist-theologian Virginia Saldanha at



Why is all this relevant here? Because despite her Catholic credentials Astrid Lobo Gajiwala arrogantly flaunts her syncretistic and anti-Catholic ideologies.

“Theologian” Astrid Lobo Gajiwala finds that “membership in the Catholic Church can become oppressive” and “said that she belongs to the Church on her own terms“.

Ex. 1a: She holds that all religions are at par.

Catholicism and Hinduism lead to the same Divine.

Ex. 1b: “It is my belief that this bid to convert stems from an inability to understand the saving grace of God in other religions.

Ex. 2:
I would like Christianity defined in some way other than by the waters of Baptism. 36.

Ex. 3:
Teachings that ‘only Jesus is God’ stand in direct opposition to what her children learned at home… “Tell them you are a Hindu who wants to know more about Christ,”
she taught her children.

Ex. 4: “I have no inhibitions about my children worshipping the Hindu pantheon… I settle for the more universal “Om Shanti”… With much regret,
I also make Jesus take backseat… Sometimes
I find it awkward praying before the picture of Krishna and Radha“. “[W]e were teaching them about the One Universal God.

Ex. 5: She and her husband are not open to life and to God’s will and plan in their lives: They “decided to have only two children.

Ex. 6a: “[D]espite the misgivings of the hierarchy, I agreed to bring up my children in two religious traditions, leaving them free to choose their own response to God.

Ex. 6b: She gave her children “the essence of religion without getting entangled in dogma, rituals etc.

Ex. 6c: She calls her children “Hindu-Catholics”.

What, for instance do we write as our children’s religion when filling up their school admission applications? So far, we have settled for “Hindu-Catholics”.

Ex. 7: No family prayers: “as a couple somehow we never succeeded in saying “daily” prayers together.

Ex. 8: “Hinduism affirmed my yearning for a Mother God who had been denied to me for so long.
It put me in contact with the Universal God whose revelation cannot be limited.

Ex. 9: “We are no longer concerned about what the church or the community expects, but about how we can express our respect and love for each other… As a result, our lives have been enriched with a cultural and religious diversity, and God, divested of so many limiting beliefs.

I have not quoted Astrid Lobo Gajiwala on women priests, leaving that information to the larger report.

Of “Bindis and Baptism”


As a new bride, I was aghast when Kalpesh’s family happily set about choosing a name for me. “Astrid” was to be relegated to the past. I had to take on a new identity. Dresses had to give away to sarees. My forehead was to be marked forever with a “tikka”, sign of a Hindu wife… Today I proudly flaunt my crimson “tikka” as a sign of my “shakti”* (power) (despite my mother’s disapproval) and delight in being mistaken for a Gujarathi when I don a saree.Journeying into Communion,

My family, not to be outdone, comes laden with sweets to my in-laws’ home at Diwali, even my 86-year-old mother who once objected (because it was Hindu) to a
bindi (the red dot on a woman’s forehead, usually a sign of marriage, but also a symbol of shakti*, or “woman power”).
Bindis and Baptism,

*In Hindu cosmology,
Shakti is
primal feminine psychic energy.
shakti or
serpent power
is the
subtle female energy
that is awakened in the muladhara chakra in the practise of
kundalini yoga.

Astrid Lobo Gajiwala must be taken very seriously. After all, she is an accredited theologian, her husband is a devout practising Hindu, she was married according to Hindu rites [Kalpesh and I took the seven pheras around the sacred fire], they avoid family prayer, her children have been denied baptism, she and her husband are regarded as a model couple held up to other Catholics and a shining example of an inter-faith marriage and she swears by the bindi/tilak! 37.

Many of the above references are sourced from Astrid Lobo Gajiwala‘s article in which caters to Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Mormons, “Progressive Christians”, etc, and even has sections for atheists and pagans!

Below: Hindus applying tilak, 1 & 2; Catholics adorned with bindi, tilak [Fr Cleophas Fernandes in blue], 3 & 4.

Below: Hindu women with bindis on their foreheads

Below: left, a Saivite; centre, Bhakti Vedantist Bhagvati Kripa Devi Dasi; right, a Vaishnavite

Below: Hindu men with tilak on their foreheads



Chakras Explained – A Godless View of a Person [a Catholic ministry]

By Bruce Sabalaskey

The word Chakra is Sanskrit for wheel or disk. It signifies one of seven basic energy centers in the body which are the openings for life energy to flow into and out of our aura. Each of these centers correlates to major nerve ganglia branching forth from the spinal column. In addition the Chakras also correlate to levels of consciousness, archetypal elements (Jungian concepts), developmental stages of life, colors, sounds, body functions, and more.

Chakra One: Earth, Physical identity, oriented to self-preservation

Located at the base of the spine, this Chakra forms our foundation. It represents the element earth, and is therefore related to our survival instincts, and to our sense of grounding and connection to our bodies and the physical plane. Ideally this Chakra brings us health, prosperity, security, and dynamic presence.

Chakra Two: Water, Emotional identity, oriented to self-gratification

The second Chakra, located in the abdomen, lower back, and sexual organs, is related to the element water, and to emotions and sexuality. It connects us to others through feeling, desire, sensation, and movement. Ideally this Chakra brings us fluidity and grace, depth of feeling, sexual fulfillment, and the ability to accept change.

Chakra Three: Fire, Ego identity, oriented to self-definition

This Chakra is known as the power Chakra, located in the solar plexus. It rules our personal power, will, and autonomy, as well as our metabolism. When healthy, this Chakra brings us energy, effectiveness, spontaneity, and non-dominating power.

Chakra Four: Air, Social identity, oriented to self-acceptance

This Chakra is called the heart Chakra and is the middle Chakra in a system of seven. It is related to love and is the integrator of opposites in the psyche: mind and body, male and female, persona and shadow, ego and unity. A healthy fourth Chakra allows us to love deeply, feel compassion, have a deep sense of peace and centeredness.

Chakra Five: Sound, Creative identity, oriented to self-expression

This is the Chakra located in the throat and is thus related to communication and creativity. Here we experience the world symbolically through vibration, such as the vibration of sound representing language.

Chakra Six: Light, Archetypal identity, oriented to self-reflection

This Chakra is known as the brow Chakra or third eye center. It is related to the act of seeing, both physically and intuitively. As such it opens our psychic faculties and our understanding of archetypal levels. When healthy it allows us to see clearly, in effect, letting us “see the big picture.”

Chakra Seven: Thought, Universal identity, oriented to self-knowledge

This is the crown Chakra that relates to consciousness as pure awareness. Some refer to it as a “god source.” It is our connection to the greater world beyond, to a timeless, spaceless place of all-knowing. When developed, this Chakra brings us knowledge, wisdom, understanding, spiritual connection, and bliss.

Chakra Eight is the Kundalini Serpent

This is not really a Chakra per se. However, its location would be just above the Crown Chakra. It would engulf the entire body in its energy sphere and have its focal point like that of an ovular field. Its form mimics that of a serpent thus its reference as the Kundalini serpent. Its foundation and basis is in cosmic consciousness. The awareness is a part and required within this level. The existence and development of the Kundalini serpent will mark the individual with a permanently co-existing connection awareness to It/Tao/God, etc.

Chakras in Relation to Catholic Teachings

Clearly evident is the eastern religion spirituality, which influences many New Age and eastern religious spiritual-based practices, such as yoga, Reiki, and Transcendental Meditation. All of these are occult based practices and must be avoided by Catholics. The most interesting reference is the Kundalini Serpent – the eighth Chakra – since it is clearly stated in Catholic teaching that the serpent is the devil and Satan (Genesis chapter 3, Apocalypse chapter 12). One will also notice the total lack of acknowledgement of God as our Father who created us and loves us. The focus is on inner self, sometimes referred to as the “god source.” This corresponds exactly with the fact that the real serpent Satan told Adam and Eve that they would be as gods by believing their inner self and ignoring the true God’s request (Genesis chapter 3). There is no mention of dependence on God or on His Grace. Rather the focus is “consciousness,” again the inner self, which has elements of Gnosticism, and self improvement through means of merely human techniques. Such a spirituality treats the person is his own being or god. All these concepts go directly against the First Commandment and incorporate within them the following elements:

-occult: relying on powers other than God and His Grace to obtain things, such as health, prosperity, etc.

-atheism: denial of God as a loving Father; instead “god” is a state of consciousness.

-idolatry: worship of anything other than the true God, which in this case is self or consciousness.

As the Catechism explains:

2112 The first commandment condemns polytheism. It requires man neither to believe in, nor to venerate, other divinities than the one true God. Scripture constantly recalls this rejection of “idols, [of] silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see.” These empty idols make their worshippers empty: “Those who make them are like them; so are all who trust in them.” God, however, is the “living God” who gives life and intervenes in history. 39.

2113 Idolatry not only refers to false pagan worship. It remains a constant temptation to faith. Idolatry consists in divinizing what is not God. Man commits idolatry whenever he honors and reveres a creature in place of God, whether this be gods or demons (for example, Satanism), power, pleasure, race, ancestors, the state, money, etc. Jesus says, “You cannot serve God and mammon.” Many martyrs died for not adoring “the Beast” refusing even to simulate such worship. Idolatry rejects the unique Lordship of God; it is therefore incompatible with communion with God.

2116 All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to “unveil” the future. Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone.

2117 All practices of magic or sorcery, by which one attempts to tame occult powers, so as to place them at one’s service and have a supernatural power over others – even if this were for the sake of restoring their health – are gravely contrary to the virtue of religion. These practices are even more to be condemned when accompanied by the intention of harming someone, or when they have recourse to the intervention of demons. Wearing charms is also reprehensible. Spiritism often implies divination or magical practices; the Church for her part warns the faithful against it. Recourse to so-called traditional cures does not justify either the invocation of evil powers or the exploitation of another’s credulity.

2126 Atheism is often based on a false conception of human autonomy, exaggerated to the point of refusing any dependence on God. Yet, “to acknowledge God is in no way to oppose the dignity of man, since such dignity is grounded and brought to perfection in God….” “For the Church knows full well that her message is in harmony with the most secret desires of the human heart.”

From a philosophical and psychological perspective, there are many concepts, including that of archetype which are in Jungian philosophy. Given the Chakra concept is much older than Jung, it is probably more accurate to say that Jung based many of his concepts on that of Chakras.

In summary, the entire Chakra concept is a Godless self-centered – that is pagan – view of a person, with its highest appeal to the serpent (the Eighth Chakra). Just as the serpent lied to Adam and Eve be claiming that they would become gods if they did not listen to God our Father, so too does he lie today to many souls under the more sophisticated guise of enlightenment and consciousness. Let us pray that God our Father offers His Grace to the Chakra believers to recognize the Way, the Truth and the Life.

The Bindi and the Evil Eye

The front and back outer covers of “PSYCHOTHERAPIES IN COUNSELLING” by Fr. D. John Antony, OFM. Cap., the founder-director of ANUGRAHA, Institute for Counselling, Psychotherapy and Research,
Dindigul, Tamil Nadu [see SANGAM INTEGRAL FORMATION AND SPIRITUALITY CENTRE, GOA-NEW AGE PSYCHOLOGY, ETC.] have the photograph of a baby on its tummy.

Below are pictures from pages 19 and 20 of the February 2013 issue of VACHANOLSAVAM, the magazine of the Potta Ashram, a sister concern of the Divine Retreat Centre, Muringoor run by the Vincentian Fathers.

The foreheads of the children are adorned with a disproportionately large black-coloured bindi
much like what you see the child wearing [first picture, second row] on page 38. This is neither a decorative bindi nor one with any religious significance. It is a very prevalent custom among South Indians of all religious affiliations — including Catholics — to mark the faces of little children with this large black dot to ward off the “evil eye”. The gaze of a potential malefactor settles on the black bindi of the child. This is called “
drishti“. Read the statement “Mothers sometimes place black bindi on the foreheads of babies and small children for protection against evil spirits” on page 13.

In Hindi, the “evil eye” is called “buri nazar”. It is believed that the “evil eye” can affect one. To counter it, a black dot is applied on the forehead or either cheek or anywhere on the child’s body where it is visible.

Sometimes more than one such dot is applied.

The large black dot on the lower portion of the left cheek of the baby on this page in the first of the three photographs above taken from Vachanolsavam magazine is “drishti”, meant to ward off the evil eye.

Images such as the one below are placed outside homes and on the rear of vehicles for the same reason.

Unfortunately, by indulging in these superstitious practices, Catholics only succeed in bringing themselves under occult bondage and breaking the First Commandment instead of deflecting the so-called “evil eye”.


During meditation, Brahma Kumari sisters give drishti,
a spiritually-charged gaze which is beneficial to the recipient. Shiv Baba himself gives drishti when he appears through the medium:

Drishti is a point of focus where the gaze rests during asana and meditation practice. Focusing on a drishti aids concentration, since it is easier to become distracted when the eyes are wandering all over the room. Each yoga pose has a specific drishti, which also aids in alignment. For instance, in Extended Side Angle Pose – Parsvakonasana the gaze is towards the raised hand, which also reminds us the turn our heads up towards the ceiling. Drishtis are particularly emphasized in
Ashtanga yoga… In Downward Facing Dog, the drishti is your navel.


Nazar Utarna

“The ridding of the effects of the evil eye” is a very popular practice. It is commonly believed that all kinds of illnesses, pains, epileptic fits and handicaps are caused by the “evil eye”, or because one is possessed by an evil spirit. Unless this is nullified, the effects are said to stay. In such cases, no medication is believed to help the patient; therefore other “remedies” have developed.
A person is said to possess the evil eye if whatever he or she looks upon is harmed. A person with an evil eye need not necessarily be wicked; usually the effect of the evil eye is unintentional. Such people do not have any distinguishing physical feature to set them apart from the rest. However, one or two “incriminating” incidents from everyday life may doom a person to the detested category of those with the “eye”. All those believed to be witches, wizards, and beggars are so castigated. If these people look upon any desirable object, it is believed to get ruined.
If a person falls under an evil spell, there are many ways through which it can be broken.
Waving salt or salt water over the head of the affected person and throwing it in fire or water is one of the most common ways of removing the effects of the evil eye or nazar utarna.
Waving a whole chilli over the person and throwing it in fire is another way. If the smoke smells of the chilli, the illness is not attributed to the evil eye or nazar. However, if the smoke does not smell of chillies, it is believed that the person was afflicted by the evil eye, whose spell has now been broken.
Nazar utarna of a more elaborate kind is performed by astrologers or professionals who do it with the help of secret and mystic rites.
At times, a lemon with four or five chillies tied together, or a piece of stale unleavened bread (roti), are used for the purpose. With the help of mantras, the effects of the evil eye are transferred to these objects. They are then either thrown away or left at a crossroad. Therefore, most people are very particular about avoiding these objects when they spot them lying at a crossroad, for fear of catching the eye if they step over them. At times these chillies are also hung on the front door to shield the house from the evil eye.
Good looking children, young boys and girls, brides and grooms, are considered most susceptible to the eye. Small children are generally made to wear special, protective charms and lockets. Eyeliner’ is applied to their eyes and
a small black dot (kala tika) to their foreheads. This is believed to mar their beauty and make them unappealing to the evil eye. Charms like bits of pottery from a burial ground, the dried foot of a tortoise, the tooth of a crocodile, a bristle from the tail of an elephant, a tiger’s claw, or a talisman with magic mantras inscribed on it are all popular. Some people even give ugly names to their children as a pre-emptive measure against nazar.
When a north Indian bridegroom leaves for his bride’s house, his face is always covered with a screen of flowers, as a camouflage against the evil eye. When he arrives at the bride’s house, the mother of the bride performs a ritual for the groom to nullify the effects of any nazar acquired on the way. So too, a bride’s mother-in-law performs the same ritual for her when she first enters her in-laws’ house.

Nazar is also said to affect healthy domestic animals, trees in blossom, a good harvest or fine houses.
Stone slabs inscribed and engraved with letters, characters and figures are often set up at the village boundary to safeguard the inhabitants and their cattle and crops against sickness, epidemic and disease caused by nazar. To protect their homes from the eye, women often draw mystical designs on the threshold. Black mud pots with fierce faces drawn on them are also hung on the door of a new house and scarecrows are stationed in fields.

All these devices are believed to catch the effect of the evil eye before it affects the crops, the building, or the beings they protect. It is believed that only the first look is deadly, and once its effect is neutralised, subsequent glances will have no effect.
Dhrishtamani (eye beads) are used as an indicator of the evil eye. These beads are strung together and worn by children. It is believed that if the child falls under an evil spell, the necklace breaks or the beads change colour.
* beads are also used as charms, either strung into a necklace or tied on a thread and worn on the body.

*See separate article on Rudraksha beads

Indian Culture and Christianity

By Rev. Dr. Sundararajan G. Immanuel, OM Books, 2000, pages 59, 60, 73, 74

Evil eye and aversion: …This is generally practiced for the safety of infants. They call this Drishti Dosham or Parikaram. This is used in various ways. A spotted pot, a scarecrow dummy in the fields for good vegetation, are part of this practice. Fixing of the cow’s shoe, horseshoe or milky shell in the entrance of the house is to avert the spell.

With the same connotation, the thilakam or pottu is also worn on the forehead in different coloured pastes, denoting various meanings. Black probably is sadness and one who goes continuously about in black is in mourning. White denotes peace and joy. Likewise green is for prosperity and growth, yellow and golden for heavenly presence and growth, and red stands for blood or the state of sacrifice. (Only married women or women accepted as having been married wear the pottu in red.) They remove the red pottu when the husband dies. But, in general, those who wear it are considered to be under the blood sacrifice of their own god. They also believe that evil spirits will have no power over the person who has the pottu.

Generally the pottu has a decorative function and is considered as a beauty decoration either on the cheek or on the forehead. But in fact the pottu is believed to protect the wearer from any evil spell. One who wears this mark has the confidence that no evil can befall one.

Such a belief seems to indicate that we have a powerless God to protect us. The Bible teaches us that the blood of Christ shed for us on Calvary is sufficient for us and we are under the effect of the power of the blood of Christ. There cannot be any other power over them that are washed by the most powerful blood of Jesus (Hebrews 9:14, Romans 5: 9, etc.) Those who have been redeemed have been washed by the blood of Jesus and do not need to have any mark on the forehead as a protection. There can be only one mark on our forehead, that is our faith. And that faith shall be in our Lord Jesus.

Sundararajan G. Immanuel Ph. D. is a Church of South India pastor.

Nagas deck up with ‘solah shringaar’ before shahi snan

By Shailvee Sharda, TNN, February 11, 2013

ALLAHABAD: For all those who thought Naga sadhus went around naked, there’s news. On special occasions like the shahi snan, the Nagas – who are often referred to as the ‘sky-clad’ ones – adorn themselves with accessories much like a bride getting ready for her wedding.
The sadhus’ list of adornments, like a newly wed girl, includes sixteen different items which they call their ‘solah shringaar.’
Prominent on the list are ’tilak’ applied on the forehead; ‘chandan’ on the body; hair piled up as a rope (‘jataa’); ‘kajal’ for the eyes; rudraksh and marigold flowers worn as a ‘maala’ around the neck, as ‘bajuband’ around the arms and as ‘kamarband’ around the waist. The Nagas also adorn themselves with ‘kundal’ (earrings); ‘kada’ on the wrist; ‘angoothi’ on the fingers and iron or silver ‘charan kada’ on the feet.

These objects are not merely for show, claim the sadhus. “There is a physical, astrological and yogic interpretation of every element of the shringaar,” says Ravindra Giri of the Nirvani akhada.
The tilak, for instance, represents the official deity of the akhada. For members of the Aavahan akhada, it is symbolic of Ganesha; for those in the Juna akhada, it represents
Maharaj Dattatreya. It also has a spiritual significance. “At the centre of the forehead, between the eye brows is our body’s agya chakra. Applying
stimulates this chakra that helps in concentrating better,” says a sadhu.

New Indian Express, October 13, 2005

Categories: Hinduisation of the Catholic Church in India

Tags: , , , , , , ,

1 reply

  1. I delight in, lead to I found exactly what I was taking a look for. You’ve ended my four day lengthy hunt! God Bless you man. Have a nice day. Bye

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