Yes, I wear a bindi 24/7 in a Western society. No, it’s not a big deal!

Twenty years ago, I was born on the auspicious day of Vijayadashami. Amma insisted that the first sound that reached my ears was the Gayathri mantra and Appa was given strict instructions to do the honours the minute I reached his hands. After the initial oohing, aahing and commentary about which of my facial features resembled my parents,  I was dressed up in clothes that amma had specially picked out for the occasion. But when you are of Indian heritage, dressing up is never complete without that  dot, rotund and prominently placed between the brows. So it was placed on my forehead with much ado and that is when I first started wearing a bindi.

Fast forward ten years, my family moved to Australia. My extended family members looked at me with bemusement when they realised that I was planning to attend the first day of my new, Australian school with a bindi and a huge swipe of vibhuti on my forehead. ” Don’t you want to wipe all this stuff of your head before going to school, Divya?” they asked. I responded in the negative and explained that I didn’t see why I should! I was only ten, but even then, the idea that moving across a sea should change any part of my identity or dressing up routine seemed absurd. Of course when I went to school, many of my classmates wanted to know what the black dot on my forehead was and why I had white-out/liquid paper on my forehead! They asked very respectfully, of course and that is when I realised that I did not really have a proper answer to give them apart from a vague, “it’s part of my culture” response.

So why do we wear bindis? The place between the brows, where the bindi is placed is said to be the third eye, or spiritual eye as it is the site of the Ajna chakra. This chakra is responsible for the time in which one finally loses their Ahamkara ( ego and sense of individuality) and becomes self-realised. Daily application of the bindi serves as a reminder of our higher purpose in life and to see everything in the world as one. From a scientific perspective, the site of the bindi is where the pineal gland lies and during the times when pastes like sandalwood, turmeric etc were applied, cooling effects on the body were observed. The composition of the pastes also helped conserve energy lost by the body.

Of the thousands of cultures I could have been born into, Indian culture was the one conferred onto me. For that reason, wearing a bindi is my birthright and I wear it with no shame. It is not a huge part of my identity, but it makes me, me. Not wearing it for the sake of conformity does not really make sense to me. In any case, individuality is a celebrated part of Western culture. And honestly, it is not that big a deal. Most people I’ve met usually don’t even notice it, or think it’s a mole. Choosing to wear a bindi everywhere in a Western society just means that every time you make new friends or expand your social circle, you will have to give a brief 30 second explanation on what it symbolises and you’re good to go. It actually makes for really good conversation when you meet someone new and they ask you about it with curiosity! Saves me from having to have mundane conversations about the weather, or even worse, about sporting teams that I have no clue about:)

Have any of you had interesting experiences with wearing a bindi? Leave a comment down below!

Glossary

Vijayadashami- the last day of a ten day festival in which the goddess is worshipped and the triumph of good over evil is celebrated, Amma: mother, Appa: father

I am a 20 year old University student living in Australia. As I was born in Malaysia, brought up in Australia and have never lived in India, I am no expert in Indian culture. However, my love affair with this beautiful culture has been running strong for many years and I hope to share my passion with everyone this blog reaches:) Happy reading!

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22 comments

  1. Radhika Hangekar · October 21, 2015

    I’m happy to know that even though you are not living in India you are interested in our culture.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Karnika · October 22, 2015

    i did face this many times!, that too i wear red kum kum and people would think i got hurt and i am bleeding, they would ask me is everything ok? are you alright?

    Ofcourse, I had to debrief it as you do…

    however now, because of many reasons majority of it includes work culture. I tried to avoid wearing it to avoid any thoughts of being different or being treated differently.

    Liked by 1 person

    • divya515134 · October 22, 2015

      Oh wow!Kumkum would be more difficult to wear because of its resemblance to blood. An interesting point. Thanks for sharing:)

      Like

  3. Viji Ganesh · November 30, 2015

    Wow ! Courage,conviction about the right things in the right perspective sure results in confidence . Keep it up !

    Liked by 1 person

    • divya515134 · December 1, 2015

      Thanks so much for your kind words! I do appreciate it:)

      Like

  4. Amrutha · November 30, 2015

    I am 22 and I live in Germany. I too wear my black dot everywhere. I was a little sceptical at first and thought everyone was looking differently at me because of it. But soon, I started accepting myself and realized it was all in my head!

    Liked by 1 person

    • divya515134 · December 1, 2015

      🙂 thanks for taking the time to write this comment!

      Like

  5. lakshmi · December 1, 2015

    Hi I am a mid 30s, mom of two living in Canada . I too wear a black bindi all the time. Even in my designer jeans or western wear. At times I even wear a kurti to school or work….Indian culture is fairly recognized here in Canada and I definitely do not feel out of place wearing Indian garb or speaking my mother tongue in public . Like your blog ‘it’s no big deal’

    Liked by 1 person

    • divya515134 · December 1, 2015

      That is so awesome:) thanks for sharing!really appreciate it.

      Like

  6. Roshrv · December 1, 2015

    I live in a part of U.S. where there is a lot of Indians. I always wear a black bindi and my mangalsutra. The most questions I have got is from fellow Indians, who moved here for work or to join their spouses! It almost feels as if they think I wear those to show off that I follow my traditions and to rub it in their faces that they don’t :/ I truly enjoy wearing these marks. Totally with you when you say it gives individuality and yes, a good conversation starter too 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • divya515134 · December 1, 2015

      Omg really?! thats insane! good on you for wearing them regardless:)

      Like

  7. LV · December 1, 2015

    I was born in New York and live in the U.S. and have worn the pottu everyday. 30 seconds and you are right you are good to go… I feel naked without it. Empowering to read about another proud cultural soul. Interesting that when I went to college in India girls thought the pottu did not go with western clothes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • divya515134 · December 1, 2015

      totally with you on that! I have heard about these attitudes amongst girls in India these days- totally baffles me! Its a shame.

      Like

  8. nichesluck · December 4, 2015

    I wear a bindi everyday and I love matching them with what I wear! Sometimes I match it to my accessories or my shoes and sometimes, even my lipstick! I’m the girl that wears a big red bindi with bright red lipstick with my LBD! It’s such a game changer and it is totally part of my identity and is my personal style statement! Love that you’re doing you, too! 🙂

    Like

  9. mahen · January 11, 2016

    u go girl!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. divya · February 9, 2016

    im a 31 year old living in Canada..married n just came here a year n half back..I must tell you that it was sad to see married ladies not wear their thaali,kumkumam n metti…Infact when they saw me they thought i was overdressed..even for taking vetthalapaku during navratri they would come without thaali n pottu or any symbol showing that their married..Most of them treat all these like accessories only to be worn during a party or community event..i was shocked because ive grown up in a house watching my mom always wear these things…quite a shocker for me..I love to wear all of them cos i love the feeling of being married n even scientifically they all mean something..
    Totally agree with what u say..never let go our culture no matter whre we live…no country can change our way of living n can never match up to our culture..

    Like

    • divya515134 · February 9, 2016

      Wow! yes it is incredibly unfortunate:( thaali, kumkumam and metti are such beautiful ornaments of married women…Thanks for sharing your thoughts:)

      Like

  11. Chandini Menon Naveen · December 7

    Wow. Beautiful thoughts and write-up. Happy to know I am not alone especially in an era where people find some aspects of our culture to be embarassing. Even know of people who wear and take off their marriage chain (thali) just because it does not match their western outfit. I personally find that very hard to digest. Thanks Divya for this piece of writing. Love it. 🙂

    Like

  12. thina1210 · December 10

    I live in Adelaide now and I am originally from Malaysia. I love my pottu. Been wearing it like forever. It’s part of me. Loved your article!! 🙂

    Like

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