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The Holy Dot

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Indian Woman with Holy Dot
A Hindu woman with a large bindi

The holy dot or bindi  (also known as kumkum, mangalya, tilak, sindhoor and by other names) is an auspicious makeup worn by young Hindu girls and women on their forehead.  The term is derived from bindu, the Sanskrit word for a dot or a point. It is usually a red dot made with vermilion (finely powdered bright red mercuric sulphide). Considered a blessed symbol of Uma or Parvati, a bindi signifies female energy (shakti) and is believed to protect women and their husbands. Traditionally a symbol of marriage (hence the widows did not wear vermilion), it has now become a decorative item 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 and designs and are manufactured with self-adhesives and felt.

Last Updated: February 24, 2001

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