Despite what western pop-culture dictates, Bindis are not ornamentation. In the Hindu custom, dots worn in the center of the forehead symbolize the third eye and the opening into the center of the cosmos. The point at which the bindi is applied, between the brows, represents the sixth chakra, or the ajna chakra. This chakra links us to our subconscious minds, and subsequently to the lord Brahma, giving total control of our concentration and a higher sense of self.
Traditionally bindis mirror sindoor, as a red dot. They would be skillfully shaped from natural powders into perfect rounds and applied to the forehead. Overtime bindis have transformed into magnificent tiny-and-elaborate pieces of art, held together with glues upon a sticker that is easily applied to the skin. They could be made from crystals, glitter, beads, rhinestones, and paints into any color – and take the form of any shape or size. The current trend is vibrantly colored velvet circular bindis with crystal embellishments.
Bindis can be a true expression of one’s self. The many different styles and combinations available make them so visually fascinating, that they are hard to resist. Plus, they look amazing against our newly threaded eyebrows! This is probably why there has been a recent increase in their popularity amongst the cultural appropriating celebrities and festival goers.
Although there is much debate on the topic, I am on the side of bindis being exploited in the western world as a form of cultural appropriation. There are many things about the Eastern world that are beautiful – our garments, our religious customs, and the way we decide to show our love and affection for our world– just to name a few. This does not mean that the west gets to pick and choose which of our traditions they would like to show “appreciation” to and which they decide to hold in contempt. Bindis are an auspicious symbol, notated in our scriptures, and worn with pride by our people.