Traditional authentic Kumkum of India is made by grinding the dried turmeric to a powder. A few drops of lime are then added to this yellow powder, which changes its hue to a bright red. Kumkum is considered to be very auspicious by Indians and thus, used for various purposes on special occasions like wedding and festivals. People, however, use both red and the original yellow powders depending upon what they need the Kumkum for. Kumkum holds a great degree of significance in India, especially for married women.
When an Indian woman wears a little red Kumkum in the parting of her hair just above the forehead, it conveys the meaning that she is married. In this case, the Indian vermillion or kumkum is referred to as Sindoor or Sindur. Whenever a female visits someone’s house, it is customary for the elder ladies of that family to offer or apply a little kumkum on her forehead. In south India, whenever married women visit temples they dip their finger in yellow turmeric powder and apply a dot on their necks.
Sindoor is not just used by the womenfolk of India. Even men, boys, girls and little children apply a dot of this powder on their forehead when they visit a temple or attend some religious function. However, for married Indian woman, it’s is almost compulsory to apply Kumkum in the parting of their hair everyday. As per Hindu customs, she is supposed to cease wearing Sindur only after the demise of her husband.
In earlier times, women preferred to prepare Kumkum at home. Now, most of them buy the readymade Sindur from the market. Depending on what brand of Kumkum you are buying, the cost of one small box of Sindur varies from Rs. 5 to 20. A traditional component of the sindoor is powdered red lead and other ingredients are alum and turmeric. Another custom followed by married Hindu ladies of the country is to wear a bindi on their forehead. At times women apply a kumkum dot instead of the bindi.
In India, Kajal is a form of eye makeup, which has been in vogue since the ancient times. It’s the womenfolk of India who mostly apply kohl to darken their lower eyelid. However, it is also applied in case of children and earlier, even the Indian men used to wear kajal. Kajal accrues the word Kohl, which is also at times spelt as Kol, Kehal or Kohal. Traditionally, it was prepared at home by females, as protection against eye ailments.
However, today, it is easily available in almost all the shops. Infact, the concept of applying Kajal has become more of a fashion trend in urban India. Those people who prepare Kajal at home make it out of soot and other ingredients. In olden times, people believed that kajal or Kohl provided relief from the sun’s glare. Another perception pertaining Kajal was that it wards off bad luck or keep evil eye at bay.
As such, many women even today apply the Kajal as a small dot on the forehead of their toddlers as well as in their eyes. It is also applied at the nape of a child’s neck, where it is not visible. Some people believe this will strengthen the child’s eyesight. Applying Kajal is a strong tradition practiced by inhabitants of almost all the regions in India.
Bindi can usually be described as a traditional red circular mark or dot worn by the Indian women on their forehead. When this is accompanied by a vermillion mark on the parting of hair just above the forehead, it indicates that the particular lady is married. The term ‘bindi’ is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘bindu’ meaning “a drop or a small dot or particle”. Even though traditionally, bindi is a red colored dot, it is worn in other colors also. Today you can find bindis in all types of fancy designs to suit whateer colored outfit one wears and to suit all different occassions.
Conventionally, it’s the Hindu married women who wear bindi. But, this mark can have several meanings and so, you may also see unmarried girls and even children wearing it. It’s the occasion, the color of the bindi and its shape that determines what it denotes. The customary bindi is made with red sindoor powder. The bindi is called the tilak when it’s applied on the forehead of a person, at the conclusion of a religious function or havan.
The purpose of wearing a bindi can also vary. If it covers the entire forehead in three horizontal lines, then it denotes the wearer is an ascetic or belongs to a particular sect (like Brahmin). Sometimes, the bindi is used for mere beautification purpose by females. In this case, you may also find her wearing a small jewelry instead of the typical red dot. Though in India, a widow cannot wear a vermillion, she is free to sport a bindi.
Bindi is called by different names in different languages of India. Thus, alternative names for bindi is Pottu in Tamil and Malayalam, Tilak in Hindi, Bottu or Tilakam in Telugu, Bottu or Tilaka in Kannada and Teep meaning “a pressing” in Bengali. Sometimes, the terms sindoor, kumkum, or kasturi are used depending upon the ingredients used in making the Bindi mark.
One can buy bindis just about anywhere in India and any Indian store outside of India.Especially near to the festival times,the bindis even go on sale.