Sindoor is vermilion, powdered red lead, applied as a dot on the forehead, like the regular 'bindi' or in the parting of the hair by all married Hindu women. To those uninitiated to the tradition, the application of sindoor may appear ornamental, but to Indians, application of sindoor carry deep social significance. Most of all it indicates the married status of the Indian women. Sindoor applied in the parting of hair is also seen as the visible expression of a woman's desire and prayers for her husband's longevity.
Sindoor is first applied to a woman by the husband during the marriage ceremony. The custom called sindoor dani is one of the most important part of the Hindu wedding ceremony. Subsequent sindoor is applied by the wife as part of her dressing routine. Use of sindoor is prohibited for widows.
Tradition of wearing sindoor is said to have started 5000 years ago. Female figurines excavated at Mehrgarh, Baluchistan, show that sindoor was applied to the partition of women's hair even in early Harappan times. It is interesting to note that the ancient tradition has still not lost its charm and married ladies still consider it important to wear sindoor and carry forward the tradition.