A recent trend has emerged from the summer festival scene, bejewelled forehead adornment (Vanessa Hudgens we are looking at you). For a festival goer hipster, a bindi, when worn with brightly coloured fringed clothing and a floral headband is the epitome of festival chic.
However, these bindi clad celebrities and hipster’s are generating a considerable amount of controversy, with some arguing that their donning of this cultural symbol is a form of cultural appropriation. So, if the bindi is much more than a fashion accessory then what does it symbolise?
The bindi is one of the most recongisable items in Hinduism. It is worn between the eyebrows which is the location of the sixth charkra and third eye, a place of concentration, intuition and intelligence. In some parts of India the bindi is only worn by married Hindu women and is a symbol of female energy. Traditionally bindi’s are a mark made with paste from coloured, sandalwood, sindoor or turmeric and applied to the forehead by a skilled finger. Furthermore, bindis are sometimes applied for religious ceremonies as a means of “invoking religious feelings, concentration and focus”
Different Hindu cultures wear the bindi at different stages of life and some cultures remain traditional in their approach to wearing the bindi. Whilst others, particularly in the South of India females of all ages are at liberty to to choose to wear one.
Bollywood cinema has played a large role in changing the significance and meaning of the bindi and bringing this cultural symbol to the world stage. The new adhesive bejewelled bindis, which can be bought all around the world, are clearly designed for their aesthetic look as opposed to adhering to religious and cultural standards.
Regardless of wether the bindi is being worn for religious and cultural purpose or as a fashion accessory by a hipster, one thing is for sure, and thats that everyone knows the bindi is an Indian symbol. When travelling around India, or anywhere, think about the cultural and religious signifance of the symbols you see. There is always something more than meets the eye!