A distinct dot is a popular forehead decoration worn mainly in South Asia – especially in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Mauritius. It is an old Hindu tradition and is known as a bindi, which means “a drop, small particle, and dot.” The word ‘Bindi’ is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘bindu’ and is associated with a person’s mystical third eye. Although they are rooted in the Hindu tradition, Bindis have transformed over time and have become popular accessories and fashion statements for some people. For example, several Western celebrities have been accused of cultural appropriation for wearing a bindi.
The Traditional Bindi
Traditionally, it is a bright red dot applied to the center of the forehead close to the eyebrows. But bindis can also be other colors with a sign or piece of jewelry worn upon them. Many people associate the red bindi with the ancient practice of offering blood sacrifices to appease the Gods.
A Hindu woman with a red bindi. (Steve Evans/CC BY 2.0)