A lot of foreigners think its style and a lot of Indian women don't know why they wear this Bindi. It is an age old tradition prevalent among Indian women to wear a red dot between their eyebrows. Of course with the passing of time, this has taken various forms and shapes and somewhere in this evolution, it has lost its original meaning or function.
Well I myself have experimented a lot, painting tiny stick figures on my forehead, occasionally of a mythological story representing Shiva Nataraja or Tripurantaka for that matter. Its interesting how much that little sketch on my forehead can convey. Yes all this with a backdrop of red smeared on my forehead.
This is kumkum, the original red powder made from turmeric, religiously everytime and taken to temples to dress the Goddess within its walls. It is first offered to the Mother Goddess, covering her sacred feet with mantras, it also dresses her forehead before it is given out to us, who take every particle of dust on her feet as sacred (Soundarya Lahari).
But what is this kumkum all about. Its not about the color red alone. Well infact the sticker bindis have gone way off the mark. Its not for beauty and vanity either. It was meant to ward off any evil intending soul who could hypnotise the woman, that is if she was all that vulnerable. The red dot made of kumkum, worn by both men and women, is powerful and keeps maleficent forces at bay.
But there is more to this. The purity of women could be seen in their eyes, pure love for the Gods they worshiped and the power of their worship glistened in their eyes. Very few got to really see the power in these eyes, and those who did experienced something totally different. This was when they looked up to her face without a kumkum. When she wore it, it brought power between her eyes, to ward off all evil lookers so that they would just bow to her in humility.
This power does not let any man stare her in the eyes for too long with wrong intentions in his mind. That is the power in her eyes, enhanced by the presence of vermillion between her brow. It doesn't let a man stare at her too long for she radiates the Goddess herself in all purity.
So much in so less, a red dot can carry such power and now it has been reduced to a mere sticker. Such is the power of kumkum, that needs to be understood by every woman and not be reduced to mere convenience.