About Bindi Modern Traditional

Modern Traditional's guide to bindi and other Indian forehead ornaments.
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Bindi are the stickers used to ornament the face, in the area of the "third eye".  When a mark is drawn there, it is called a "tilaka".  The sticker is a "bindi", and when there is a pendant dangling from a chain secured in the hair, it is called a "tikka".
They are put on the forehead to symbolize the importance and worship of intellect, and are said to stimulate the third eye, when placed between the eyes.

Tilaka are generally worn by religious men and married women.  The look and color of them will depend on their beliefs as individuals, or which sect they are from, and what occasion it is.  Vaishnavists generally wear vertical lines, where Shaivites generally wear horizontal lines, but, depending on local customs, all may wear a sort of "smear" of sandalwood, vermillion, or another colorful powder, when they have visited someone who wishes to give them a sort of a spiritual gift.  It is not uncommon to see foreheads lovingly smeared in the airports of the world.

Generally, if a woman is wearing a red, circular tilaka or bindi, or a bindi that is red, or has a red dot somewhere in it, it means that she is married.  Both married and unmarried women often wear bindis of other colors, but if it is red, the woman is making a point that she is married.

 
Tikka are mostly worn in very formal occasions or weddings, though there are some that are made to be a little more casual.  One who sweats alot, for instance, may choose a casual tikka over a bindi or talik.  The more casual sort can be easily made at home, and make nice gifts.

Some contemporary folk like to wear their bindi someplace other than the forehead, such as at the corner of one's sunglasses.  They also make a nice alternative to give high school students, rather than the typical gold star for good behavior.

When purchasing bindi, in order to avoid cultural insult or confusion, it is important to know what various symbols mean.  Most that are sold to westerners were bought by people who don't really know much about Asian symbolism.  So here is a list of common bindi shapes, and their meanings:

Symbol used as bindi: Meaning:
teardrop or circle a drop or blessing from the deities.
circular with designs within the divine discus, presented by Vishnu to Shiva, as a gift.
paisley a stylized Muslim symbol for the pine cone, OR contemporary symbol of moral freedom, tolerance, and peace.
swan tribal symbol for beauty, family, and communal values OR Vishnu.
flame fire, intensity, Shiva in the form of fire.
snake Nag (the deity), fertility, cunning/intelligence, a "dark" sensibility.
spider creativity, weaving, creation
elephant trunk Ganesha, wisdom, strength.
mirrors or reflective in some tribes it means protection from evil eye, reminder that what you do comes back, karma.
"hollow" teardrop or eye shape the Yoni, Shakti, womanhood.  Careful, as if it is shaped like a noose, it is the symbol of the deity of death catching his victims.  It may mean the wearer is "Gothic".
square four elements, diamonds.
sunburst the sun
trident a weapon of Shiva, symbolizing creation, destruction, and regeneration.
spear victory, the vanquishing of enemies, or removal of obstacles.
eye invokes Shiva, Kali, or shows reverence to the Nepalese "Khumari" or living goddess.  The Khumari is chosen in toddlerhood, based on her fearlessness and closeness to perfection, and much revered until her term ends, at the first time she ever bleeds for any reason.  However, it is said that those who marry a former Khumari are sure to have a tragic death.

Informative Links:

Bindi - information on bindis from ThaneWeb..

Where to buy bindi and tikka:

Here is a list of sites online that sell facial ornamentation.

All of the sites listed, ship internationally, and either accept credit cards or PayPal, or both.
If you sell facial ornamentation, ship internationally, and accept credit cards or PayPal, please contact us.  I am still searching for sites dealing with, and selling the facial ornamentation styles of other cultures.

Profoundia - has a wide selection of both traditional and contemporary bindi designs.  They accept the major credit cards, PayPal, and have express ordering through Yahoo Wallet. No minimum order.

Indian Mall - a great eBay seller I've ordered from and will again, with unique bindi and body sticker styles, including hand panja, which are hand stickers worn instead of or to accent henna.  Usually selling in small to large wholesale lots.

Bindis - has a unique collection of moonstone and mini circular bindis.  They accept PayPal, and GiveAnything gift certificates. It is also a part of the Yahoo Stores network, and therefore, takes the major credit cards and express checkout through the Yahoo wallet. No minimum order.

Priyanka's - has a vast collection (over 70 pages) of traditional, fancy, and contemporary bindis.  They accept the major credit cards, and proccess orders through WorldPay.  Minimum international order is $65.

Body Art Supply - I don't know anyone who has ordered from them, so I can't vouch for them personally.  They take major credit cards, and their shopping cart is done through EasyCart.

ParDesi Services - I haven't ordered from them yet either, but probably will.  They are a reputable business, especially in the eBay community, and often have unique items that sell fast.

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