Bindi is a colorful dot that is placed on the forehead of both men and women in Hindu Dharma. The origin of the bindi starts way back in the ancient times but it has lost this significance in the modern times and is mostly worn all over the world as an accessory. Bindis have a special significance even today in the Indian tradition. There a different colors worn for different occasions and stages in life. A married women always wears a Red colored Bindi as this shows true love and prosperity. A black bindi is never adorned by a married woman as this is considered inauspicious. Though most women these days don't follow these rules of color anymore. Men also wear a Tilak during pujas or ceremonies in India. There are many reasons as to why this practice started.
If a woman wears a red bindi it shows that she is married. Widows in India do not wear bindi normally. But they are allowed to wear a black bindi in Southern India. Their black bindi shows their loss. However, young girls are free to wear bindi of any color. The red bindi in married women signifies true love and prosperity.
In a Spiritual view, bindi plays the most important role in hindu culture. Every morning a hindu takes a bath and sits in prayer just to seek for the absolute truth through every prayer. However, it is true that one cannot sit in prayer the whole day. So when you leave the prayer room, you are expected to put some mark on your forehead, which will remind you during the day about all the activities and the purpose of life. It is obvious you cannot see the mark on your own forehead everytime so whenever you see it on another face, you will get a chance to recall the purpose of your life. The idea is to remember that all the things you are doing are dedicated towards the achievement of this supreme goal of self realization.
Society has always wanted to categorize or tag people in groups. The Bindi performed a similar function in the 'Social' realm. The social purpose was to ward of the evil eye of the young unmarried girl by making her wear a 'black' Bindi. The married women wore a red Bindi. The 4 castes wore different colored tilak though this is not followed except in very conservative families in the villages.
1. The Brahmins who were priests or academicians wore a tilak of white sandal wood signifying purity.
2. The Khatriyas (Kings and Warriors and Administrators) wore red tilak to signify valor.
3. The Vaishyas (Business men) wore a yellow tilak signifying prosperity.
4. The Sudra (service class) wore black tilak to signify service to the other classes.
From a health point of view, the Bindi is worn between the eyebrows where the pineal gland lies. This is an important nerve center and applying sandalwood or ash keeps the nerves cool and so keeps you cool and conserves energy. In the past the Bindi was made from the yellow and red sandalwood, red and yellow turmeric, saffron, various flowers, ash, zinc oxide. All these had cooling properties in nature. Today people wear Bindi is made with glue or glass and doesn't benefit in any way but is more of an accessory.
The Ajna Chakra is considered to be the place of the "third eye"where one applies the Bindi. The Ajna Chakra is the site where one finally loses Ahamkara(ego or sense of inidividuality) when one achieves self realization or reaches a higher level of spirituality. It is a way to remind one another in the society to see through the mind's eye and see the bigger picture of attaini
In Vaishnavas, the red colored bindi is applied as a V shape with a white I inside it, showed they were worshippers of God Vishnu. While the followers of Shiva applied ash colored powder as horizontally on their foreheads as three lines. A red bindi means married in women, black bindi was worn in Southern parts of Inida by unmarried girls to ward off bad luck.