What's a Bindi and What Does it Mean?

What's a Bindi and What Does it Mean?

In India, the red bindi is a sign of love and empowerment.

On World Fair Trade Day, Saturday, May 14th, we want to use the bindi as a symbol of our respect for mothers and women artisans around the world. And, you can join us by dropping by any of the Global Gifts stores for a FREE bindi on Saturday!

Our bindis have been graciously provided by our fair trade partners at Matr Boomie.

But exactly what is a bindi?
The word bindi (in Hindi, बिंदी) means "point."  Functionally speaking, it's a red dot of varying materials, worn on the center of the forehead. The bindi has a historical and cultural presence in South Asia and especially the Indian subcontinent. It is not a practice that's restricted to any one caste, religion, or region. 

As you might expect, a tradition that's practiced over a wide area has various meanings and interpretations, including:
  • employed simply as a cosmetic mark to enhance beauty
  • used as a method of honoring one's intellect (by both men and women)
  • representing honor, love and prosperity
  • as a focal point during meditation

Traditionally the bindi is red or maroon in colour -- a pinch of vermilion powder applied skillfully with the ring-finger to make a perfect red dot. It takes considerable practice to achieve the perfect round shape by hand so for beginners, a small template aids application. These days, the bindi is no longer restricted in colour or shape.

Apart from their cosmetic use, bindis have also found a modern medical application in India. Iodine patch bindis are used among women in north-west Maharashtra to battle iodine deficiency.

Ornamental bindis were introduced to other parts of the world by South Asian immigrants. International celebrities have been seen wearing bindis and the appropriateness of such uses has been recently disputed. However, Manish Gupta, Founder of Matr Boomie had this to say on the topic, "A westerner wearing a bindi is never seen as culturally insensitive in India. Indians love seeing people wearing a bindi as a sign of cultural respect and acceptance."

 
Our intent is to stand in solidarity with mothers everywhere, and to celebrate the accomplishments of these artisan partners around the world.

#RedBindiEvent  #MatrBoomie

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