Sindoor carries deep religious and social significance in Indian society. It is considered to be last of the traditional Solah Sringar or the 16 arts of embellishment of married Indian woman. Application of sindoor or vermilion in the parting of hair by woman not just enhances her beauty but also signifies her marital status. It is fascinating to note that even after 5000 years, the traditional Sindoor is very much in vogue. Married Indian women still consider it important to wear sindoor. Though many women wear it all times, most women wear sindoor especially on important occasions such as weddings or festivals.
While sindhoor was the ancient name given to the very toxic, red, mercury oxide, as a cosmetic, its most common base is turmeric powder which becomes red when mixed with lime juice or lime powder (calcium compound), moistened in water, or with alum, iodine and camphor, or with oil and sea shell powder (calcium salts), or aguru, chandan and kasturi. It can also be made of sandalwood mixed with musk, or from a mixture of saffron ground with kusumbha flower.
Color experts say that in olden days sindhoor was made with a special type of red marble stone, covered with turmeric and a little oil and left undisturbed for a few days, after which it turned into red powder. In Tamil language, turmeric powder is known as manjal and the final product is called manjal kunkumam.