Every day I learn something new and I am learning there are no dumb questions in India, people are generally happy to answer questions about their culture. One of the things that has mesmerized me is the variations on traditional Bindi that people wear on their heads. A bindi is the dot, painted design or marking that people put on their chakra between the eyes. Before I arrived in India, I thought that married women wore the bindi as their sign that they were married. However upon arriving here, I started to see men, young girls and women with Bindis on their heads...and boy how they varied.
Here are the reasons you wear a Bindi (as far as I have observed or gotten input from my driver, maid and cook):
- After you make a Puja (prayer offering at the temple) the priest will mark your head between your eyes which is said to be the third eye/ powerful chakra
-Anyone who makes a puja can get the bindi (pronounced Bin DEE)and it can be all sorts of colors
- Women tend to wear the bindi as part of regular dress and it can be a red adhesive dot (you can buy huge packages of them for just a few rupees); you can match them to your dress and add jewels or just draw them on with liquid black eyeliner (like my picture)
- I am told at one point it was a sign of marriage in north India, but that is no longer consistent...
So here is part 2 in my Saree adventure last Saturday. As I arrived at the event, which was at a great hotel, all the westerners were ooohing and ahhhing. I felt chic and with it, until i got to the event and my colleagues hurried me to the wash room to be rewrapped. I apparently bought a wedding saree- too fancy for regular wear even though the invite said formal, it was too short because I am too tall and it was not tight enough. OK, I can live with that but then i was stopped in the foyer and the girls put a bindi on me, so i would look more beautiful. I am not sure that is the look I achieved, it was more like comical attraction.
I am not giving up, my other saree came back from the tailor today with the correct half-shirts custom made for me. I will find a reason to put that on soon even if I am just hosting guests here.