Bindi (pronounced as bin-dee) comes from the Sanskrit word 'bindu' meaning a dot or drop. The other popular Indian terms for Bindi are 'pottu', 'tika', 'tilak', 'tilakam' and 'kumkum'. Traditional Indians, mostly women wear Bindi or a small red dot on their forehead in between the eye-brows. For Indians, Bindi is not merely an ornamental substance and carries tremendous social and religious significance. In North India, it is considered mandatory for married women to wear Bindis at all times. Here bindi is used to depict the married status of a woman and is considered to be extremely auspicious.
Religiously speaking, Bindi is supposed to be representative of the mystic third eye and hence become the central point of the base of creation. Therefore, the traditional red dot (often made with tikka powder or vermillion) can be seen on men and women alike. When visiting a temple, it is common for the priest to mark, men, women and children with this mark using his finger. While a small dot is applied on women's forehead, a tilak or longish red mark us usually applied on the forehead of the man.
It is fascinating to note that the traditional red dot which has always been the muse of poets has undergone major transformation in modern times. While, keeping intact its socio-religious significance bindi has managed to become an important fashion accessory of modern Indian women, married or unmarried. These days , Bindis are being worn not just with traditional Indian dresses like salwar-suits, sarees and lehangas but are also worn with western outfits. Today, Bindis are available in designer avatars. Major catalyst behind this transformation was the replacement of age-old kumkum Bindis with convenient sticker Bindis. These days Bindis are being adorned with gold, silver, pearl and even diamonds. There is a a huge variety in terms of designs besides in present times Bindis are not just used to adorn the forehead but are also being used to caste attention on other body parts like nose, belly button, eyelashes, eyebrows etc.