Hindu woman in Kullu, Himachal Pradesh wearing a bindi

A bindi (Hindi: बिंदी, from Sanskrit बिन्दु bindú meaning "point, drop, dot or small particle") known as pottu (Tamil: பொட்டு)[1][2] and teep (Bengali: টিপ) is a coloured dot or, in modern times, a sticker worn on the center of the forehead, originally by Hindus, Jains and Buddhists from the Indian subcontinent.

A bindi is a bright dot of some colour applied in the centre of the forehead close to the eyebrows or in the middle of the forehead that is worn in the Indian subcontinent (particularly amongst Hindus in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, and Sri Lanka)[3] and Southeast Asia among Balinese, Filipino, Javanese, Sundanese, Malaysian, Singaporean, Vietnamese, and Myanmar Hindus. A similar marking is also worn by babies and children in China and, as in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia, represents the opening of the third eye.[4] In Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism the bindi is associated with the ajna chakra, and Bindu[5] is known as the third eye chakra. Bindu is the point or dot around which the mandala is created, representing the universe.[6][7] The bindi has a historical and cultural presence in the region of Greater India.[8][9]

Religious significance

See also: Ajna, Chakra, Bindu (symbol), and Tilaka

Ajna chakra has two lotus petals dedicated to the sun, the other to the moon (e.g. light and dark, or male and female) merged at the center
Bindi and traditional head ornament with sun and moon pendants on an Indian classical dancer

Traditionally, the area between the eyebrows (where the bindi is placed) is said to be the sixth chakra, ajna, the seat of "concealed wisdom". The bindi is said to retain energy and strengthen concentration.[10] The bindi also represents the third eye.[11] The Nasadiya Sukta of the Rig Veda, the earliest known Sanskrit text, mentions the word Bindu.[12]

Female figure with bindi ornament, terracotta, 200–250 BCE

The Ajna is symbolised by a sacred lotus with two petals, and corresponds to the colours violet, indigo or deep blue, though it is traditionally described as white. It is at this point that the two sides Nadi Ida (yoga) and Pingala are said to terminate and merge with the central channel Sushumna, signifying the end of duality, the characteristic of being dual (e.g. light and dark, or male and female). The seed syllable for this chakra is the syllable OM, and the presiding deity is Ardhanarishvara, who is a half male, half female Shiva/Shakti. The Shakti goddess of Ajna is called Hakini. In metaphysics, Bindu is considered the dot or point at which creation begins and may become unity. It is also described as "the sacred symbol of the cosmos in its unmanifested state".[3][6] Bindu is the point around which the mandala is created, representing the universe.[7] Ajna (along with Bindu), is known as the third eye chakra and is linked to the pineal gland[clarification needed] which may inform a model of its envisioning. The pineal gland is a light sensitive gland that produces the hormone melatonin which regulates sleep and waking up, and is also postulated to be the production site of the psychedelic dimethyltryptamine, the only known hallucinogen endogenous to the human body. Ajna's key issues involve balancing the higher and lower selves and trusting inner guidance. Ajna's inner aspect relates to the access of intuition. Mentally, Ajna deals with visual consciousness. Emotionally, Ajna deals with clarity on an intuitive level.[5]

Goddess Tara depicted with Ajna Bhrumadhya Bindu known as inner gaze. Bhrumadhya is the point in the center of the forehead commonly referred to as the third eye, or center of consciousness[5]

In Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, bindi is associated with Ajna Chakra and Bindu.[5] Divinities in these religions are typically depicted with Bhrumadhya Bindu, in meditative pose with their eyes nearly closed show the gaze focused between eyebrows, other spot being the tip of the nose—Naasikagra. The very spot between the eyebrows known as Bhrumadhya is where one focuses one's sight, so that it helps concentration.[7] In South Asia, bindi is worn by women of all religious dispositions and is not restricted to religion or region. However, the Islamic Research Foundation, located in India, says "wearing a bindi or mangalsutra is a sign of Hindu women. The traditional bindi still represents and preserves the symbolic significance that is integrated into Indian mythology in many parts of India."

Relief from stupa, 2nd century B.C. Only female figures were marked with the sacred lotus during this period

Popular Brands of Bindi-'' 1. Pearl Eyeflax- This is one of the most popular brand in India. This brand is well known for its quality and skin safety measures. Pearl Eyeflax Bindi is available in most of the States in India and easily available in Amazon, Flipkart and Meesho.

2. There are more other local brands but all are regionally available.

The red bindi has multiple meanings:

Traditional application method

Bride with decorative bindis and maang tika between hair parting where married women apply sindoor.

A traditional bindi is red or maroon in colour. A pinch of vermilion powder is applied with a ring-finger to make a dot. A small annular disc aids application for beginners. First, a sticky wax paste is applied through the empty centre of the disc. This is then covered with kumkum or vermilion and then the disc is removed to get a round bindi. Various materials such as lac, sandal, 'aguru', mica, 'kasturi', kumkum (made of red turmeric) and sindoor color the dot. Saffron ground together with 'kusumba' flower can also work.[17] Traditionally they are green in color with a red dot in the middle.[18] The bindi is no longer restricted in color or shape.[19][20]

Ornamental bindis were made and sold by lac workers known as Lakhera.

Historically, the ornamental bindi spangle consists of a small piece of lac over which is smeared vermilion, while above it a piece of mica or thin glass is fixed for ornament. Women wore large spangles set in gold with a border of jewels if they could afford it. The bindi was made and sold by lac workers known as Lakhera.[21] In Hinduism, it's part of the Suhāg or lucky trousseau at marriages and is affixed to the girl's forehead on her wedding and thereafter always worn.[20] Unmarried girls optionally wore small ornamental spangles on their foreheads. A widow was not allowed to wear bindi or any ornamentation associated with married women.[20] In modern times, self-adhesive bindis are available in various materials, usually made of felt or thin metal and adhesive on the other side. These are simple to apply, disposable substitutes for older lac tikli bindis. Sticker bindis come in many colours, designs, materials, and sizes.

Courtesan Bani Thani as Radha with ornamental bindi spangle, c. 1750

There are different regional variations of the bindi. In Maharashtra a large crescent moon shaped bindi is worn with a smaller black dot underneath or above, associated with Chandrabindu and Bindu chakra represented by crescent moon, they are commonly known as Chandrakor in this region, outside Maharashtra they are popularly known as Marathi bindi. In Bengal region a large round red bindi is worn, brides in this region are often decorated with Alpana design on forehead and cheeks, along with bindi. In southern India a smaller red bindi is worn with a white tilak at the bottom, another common type is a red tilak shaped bindi. In Rajasthan the bindi is often worn round. Long tilak shaped bindi are also common, as well as the crescent moon on some occasions. Decorative bindis have become popular among women in South Asia, regardless of religious background. Bindis are a staple and symbolic for women in the Indian subcontinent.[22]

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 a symbol of life-long commitment to their husbands. During all Hindu marriage ceremonies, the groom applies sindoor in the part in the bride's hair.[23]

Apart from their cosmetic use, bindis have found a modern medical application in India. Iodine patch bindis have often been used among women in north-west Maharashtra to battle iodine deficiency.[24]

Related customs in other Asian regions

A Balinese dancer with a white bindi

See also: Balinese Hinduism and Greater India

In Southeast Asia, bindis are worn by the Balinese, Javanese, and Sundanese people of Indonesia. For example, bindis are often worn by brides and grooms in Java and other parts of Indonesia, regardless of their religious beliefs.

The Indonesian practice of wearing a bindi originated from the cultural influence brought about by the Indianized Hindu kingdoms that once ruled Indonesia. Historically, other Indianized kingdoms in Southeast Asia also took part in this practice.

Bindis (or Teep) in Bengali culture

Main article: Teep (decoration)

Teep (Bengali: টিপ) or "Tip", a similar cosmetics to bindis are part of Bengali culture and women in West Bengal, India and Bangladesh, irrespective of their religion, adorn themselves with teeps as an ethnic practice.[25][26][27][28] It was not just a matter of the Bengali Hindu community. By the 18th century the use of teeps had become very common. Especially women in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Burma, Philippines, Indonesia used teep.[29] It's popular in celebrations like Durga Puja, Eid Al Fitr, Pohela Boishakh, Eid Al Adha, Pohela Falgun, Independence Day, Victory Day, 21 February & other occasions.

Bengali girl from Bangladesh wearing Teep on the occasion of Pohela Boishakh

Bengali Islam approves wearing the Teep as a cultural representation as long as there's no intention of imitating the bindi culture of other religions. Depending on the occasion the colors of Teep change, such as red and white for Pohela Boishakh, green, orange and yellow for Pohela Falgun, blue and white for Barsha Mangal, brown and mustard color for Nabanna, purple and pink for Eid Al Fitr and black for International mother Language Day, Eid Al Adha,red and green for Independence Day & Victory Day. Bengali brides wearing Kolka Tip (Bengali: কলকা) on their forehead is an old tradition of Bangladesh.[30]

Bindis in Pakistani culture

In Sindh, Muslim Sindhi women traditionally apply a black dot or line by "Kajjal or Surmo (kohl)" on the forehead and chin, and sometimes three dots or lines around eyes as well, for both beautification and tradition. As an amulet believed to protect against evil-eye, these dots are called Tikro or Tilk (singular), or Tikra (plural).[31] In Sindh, when a child is born both boys and girls black dots/marks and lines are drawn to their faces at birth. Recently, stick-on bindiyas of different shapes and designs have become very common in rural Sindh, and are applied by both Muslims and Hindus. However, a Muslim will not apply a red circular bindi as it is considered to be appropriately used by Sindhi Hindus only. Many Sindhi tribal Hindu women also get tattoos of such black dots, lines, cross, peacock and other symbols on their face, neck, forearms, hands and legs.[32] Back in time brides were applied many dots of "Tira" (or moles) drawn upon their face and lips with needles dipped in antimony and other coloring matters.[33]

The type of forehead tattoo called Khaal or Sheen khal was also common among Afghan and Pashtun women,[34][35] although it is no longer done for religious reasons. As in Sindh, dots are made using kohl or other material. Bindis are also used by Saraiki and some Baloch tribal women of Pakistan. However, many Muhajir and Punjabi consider the use of bindis to be un-Islamic. Due to this, the use of bindis has declined in many urban areas of Pakistan.

Modern use

Bindis and other religious affiliated markings are worn by recent Hindu converts like Hare Krishnas.[36]

Bindis are sometimes worn purely for decorative purpose or style statement without any religious or cultural affiliation.[37] Decorative and ornamental bindis were introduced to other parts of the world by immigrants from the Indian subcontinent.[38] International celebrities such as Gwen Stefani, Julia Roberts,[39] Madonna,[40] Selena Gomez and many others have been seen wearing bindis.[41] The appropriateness of such uses has been disputed. Reacting to Gomez wearing a bindi while singing her song "Come and Get It", Hindu leader Rajan Zed said that the bindi has religious significance and should not be used as a fashion accessory,[42] but Indian actress Priyanka Chopra praised Gomez's choice as "an embrace of Indian culture".[43] Additionally, several rappers have adopted jewelled bindis, most notably Lil Uzi Vert, who debuted a $24 million pink diamond bindi in February 2021. They were inspired by Lil B who wore a diamond bindi in 2012.[44]

Tamil woman wearing bindi

Alternative terms

A bindi can also be called:[45]

See also


  1. ^ "History and Etymology for bindi". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 16 January 2022. borrowed from Hindi bindī, literally, "dot, mark" (or a cognate Indo-Aryan word), going back to the Middle Indo-Aryan and Sanskrit stem bindu- "drop, spot," it's worn by Buddhist, Jains and Hindus
  2. ^ "Bindi etymology". Etymologeek. Retrieved 16 January 2022. English word bindi comes from Hindi बिंदी
  3. ^ a b Khanna 1979: p. 171
  4. ^ Xiaoou, Yu (10 September 2014). "Guidelines for school entrance in ancient China". ChinaCulture.org. Retrieved 16 February 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d Mercier (2007). p. 267.
  6. ^ a b Swami Ranganathananda (1991). Human Being in Depth: A Scientific Approach to Religion. SUNY Press. p. 21. ISBN 0791406792.
  7. ^ a b c Shakya, pp. 82–83
  8. ^ Southeast Asia: A Historical Encyclopedia, from Angkor Wat to East Timor, by Keat Gin Ooi p. 642
  9. ^ Hindu-Buddhist Architecture in Southeast Asia by Daigorō Chihara p. 226
  10. ^ Das, Subhamoy. "Bindi: The Great Indian Forehead Art". Archived from the original on 2 February 2017. Retrieved 16 February 2009.
  11. ^ "Couples Fuel India's Vibrant Art Scene". The New York Times. 13 October 2011. Retrieved 20 October 2011.
  12. ^ "nasadiya-suktha-and-purusha-suktha". 21 September 2012.
  13. ^ M. Kenoyer, Jonathan (1998). Ancient Cities of the Indus Valley Civilization (1st ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 186. ISBN 0195779401.
  14. ^ Pintchman, Tracy (2007). Women's Lives, Women's Rituals in the Hindu Tradition. Oxford. pp. 90–97. ISBN 978-0195177060.
  15. ^ From Finite to Infinite, by Swami Muktananda, SYDA Foundation, S. Fallsburg, New York, 1989, pp. 88–89
  16. ^ Encyclopedic Dictionary of Yoga, by Georg Fuerstein, Paragon House Publishers, New York, 1990, p. 15
  17. ^ "Bindi: The Great Indian Forehead Art". About.com. Archived from the original on 2 February 2017. Retrieved 9 January 2012.
  18. ^ Bahadur, Om Lata (1996). The book of Hindu festivals and ceremonies (3rd ed.). New Delhi: UBS Publishers Distributors ltd. p. 168. ISBN 81-86112-23-5.
  19. ^ Khadi and Village Industries Commission, Government of India
  20. ^ a b c Parvesh Handa, "Home Beauty Clinic", Pustak Mahal, ISBN 81-223-0099-5
  21. ^ "The Tribes and Castes of the Central Provinces of India—Volume IV".
  22. ^ Priyabala Shah (April 1986) "Tilaka: Hindu marks on the forehead", p.88
  23. ^ Gwynne, Paul (2009). World Religions in Practice: A Comparative Introduction. Maiden, MA: Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 9781444360059.
  24. ^ Dhar, Shobha (11 April 2015). "Iodine bindis for tribal women to fight deficiency". TNN. The Times of India. Retrieved 25 July 2015.
  25. ^ চৌধুরী, মধুমন্তী (22 September 2015). "পুজোর বাজারে সাবেকি টিপ". Anandabazar Online. Retrieved 25 December 2023.
  26. ^ "Teep".
  27. ^ P.K.BALACHANDRAN (17 April 2019). "Bangladesh Asserts its Bengali Identity in Mass Celebration of Pohela Boishak". www.thecitizen.in. Retrieved 11 June 2023.
  28. ^ "টিপটপ টিপ". www.kalerkantho.com. March 2020. Retrieved 11 June 2023.
  29. ^ ইসলাম, সায়েদুল (2 April 2022). "বাঙালি নারীদের মধ্যে টিপ পরার প্রচলন শুরু হলো যেভাবে". BBC. Retrieved 25 December 2023.
  30. ^ Kalka – Banglapedia https://en.banglapedia.org/index.php/Kalka
  31. ^ "ٽڪو2 : (Sindhianaسنڌيانا)". www.encyclopediasindhiana.org (in Sindhi). Retrieved 25 January 2024.
  32. ^ Images Staff (13 July 2021). "Are bindis available in Pakistan? Twitter responds with a resounding yes". Images. Retrieved 11 June 2023.
  33. ^ Burton, Sir Richard Francis (1851). Sindh, and the Races that Inhabit the Valley of the Indus. W. H. Allen.
  34. ^ "Khaal, The Tattoo of Afghan Womxn". Her Culture. 24 May 2021. Retrieved 11 June 2023.
  35. ^ Khan, Moxet (25 November 2020). "Sheen Khal / blue tattoo are the Beauty Marks for Pakhtun females". Pukhtoogle. Retrieved 11 June 2023.
  36. ^ "Svami Sadananda Dasa: Disciple of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati and Guru of Vamandas (Walther Eidlitz)". sadananda.com.
  37. ^ Khu phố Little India ở Artesia, Nguoi Viet Online, 11 November 2011, Retrieved 22 November 2011
  38. ^ Juventud organiza un mercadillo solidario a beneficio de la Fundación Vicente Ferrer, elperiodic.com, 17 November 2011. Retrieved 22 November 2011
  39. ^ "'Pretty Woman' in temple upset". BBC News. 23 September 2009. Retrieved 26 April 2010.
  40. ^ "Try a bindi now with Western wear". Punjab Newsline. 6 October 2011. Archived from the original on 30 March 2012. Retrieved 20 October 2011.
  41. ^ "Should Selena Gomez apologize for wearing a bindi at the MTV Movie". 17 April 2013.
  42. ^ Sieczkowski, Cavan (16 April 2013). "Selena Gomez Bindi: Hindu Leaders Demand Apology For MTV Movie Awards Costume". Huffington Post. Retrieved 25 September 2015.
  43. ^ DelliCarpini, Gregory Jr. (22 May 2013). "Selena Gomez's Bindi Styling: Offensive? Bollywood Star Priyanka Chopra Talks About the Star's Usage". Billboard. Retrieved 25 September 2015.
  44. ^ "Lil Uzi Vert's $24 Million Forehead Diamond Was Inspired by Lil B". exclaim.ca. Retrieved 17 February 2021.
  45. ^ "Dazzling bindis". MSN India. 10 October 2011. Archived from the original on 12 October 2011. Retrieved 20 October 2011.