The bride and groom listen attentively as the Pundit explains the significance of the “sindoor“. They nod in agreement as he continues to emphasize the importance of a Hindu married woman adorning her “maang” (parting of the hair) with this sacred red powder. With that being said, it’s now time for the most important ritual of the Hindu wedding ceremony: The Sindoor Daan.
The Pundit recites a mantra before instructing the groom to color his bride’s maang with sindoor and to dot her forehead. The bride blushes as she notices her groom glancing at her in admiration. With these new adornments, she has just been given a brand new identity and title: she is now a married woman…a wife.
The honeymoon is over and the bride returns to work. She looks radiant with her red dot and sindoor. Relatives are full of praise for her when she attends family functions, proudly flaunting her new adornments. Wherever else she goes, she is easily recognized as a married Hindu woman.
Some may say that the red dot and sindoor merely sets her apart from her single counterparts but, for her, the symbolism goes much deeper then that. She has learnt that these adornments represent her love for her husband and wearing them will ensure his protection and long life. Thus, she vows to diligently and proudly apply her sindoor and red dot daily.
But strangely, as the months go by, the dot gradually decreases in size and the sindoor starts to fade. Eventually, these adornments disappear almost completely, except for rare sightings on auspicious days….
Of late, I have noticed many married Hindu women, sans these sacred adornments. I was curious as to why? Why don’t some married women want to look…well, married? Does it clash with their corporate attire? How do husbands feel about their wives leaving home without the red dot? “Not wearing the sindoor will shorten the life-span of your husband“. Do some women consider this just a myth/ superstition hence, they don’t take this belief seriously? Superstitious or not, why would you risk such a potential dire consequence? Or is western influence the reason that some women disregard their culture in favor of portraying the image of a modern Hindu married woman?
My curiosity was getting the better of me and I was eager to hear others’ views and opinions. So, I posed a question on my Facebook profile, expecting the odd “like” and a reply or two. But I was inundated with comments!
Below are just a few of the many replies on my post:
Sharmaine: ‘I think its the most beautiful adornment a Hindu married woman can flaunt.. More precious and spectacular than any diamond earring that emphasizes her beauty …pity it’s so scarce.’
Pundit Das: ‘I spend a good 5 minutes explaining to the bride how important the sindhur powder dot is to her & her marriage & husbands well being. I explain to her not to be embarrassed but wear her red dot with pride. And it should not be a needle point dot but a dot a man can see from afar so he knows she has been taken & must be respected. Not wearing her sindhur in her maang shortens the lifespan of her husband.’
Kamni: ‘I’ve noticed this too and it is sad. I’ve been married for 19 years and still wear my dot and sindoor and sari with pride. I live and work in Krugersdorp, my children are in Afrikaans schools, 95% of my friends and acquaintances are Afrikaans, but that does not stop me. I am proud of my heritage.’
Rakhi: ‘I wear my dot & sindoor every day & you’ll be shocked to know that despite some compliments there’s a lot of criticism. People ask why…often Hindus who know the answer. I get asked if I’m newly married as if it’s meant only for newly married women. I often get told that it doesn’t suit western clothes. No one has ever forced or even asked me to wear these adornments…it’s a matter of pride as a married woman – more important to me than a ring. When a person looks at you, it’s the first thing that strikes them. To me, there’s nothing more beautiful than a proudly married woman.’
Vikash: ‘Its said that the sacred red dot is actually a ‘record’ button. Wives can record all that their husbands say and do and use it against them when they need to. Wonder why some guys want their wives to have bigger ones – as it possibly means more memory storage. Jokes aside – I do look with greater admiration and respect upon those who ‘adorn’ themselves. It just adds that certain finesse that’s indescribable.’
Raksha: ‘I’m not dressed without my sindhoor and dot. It’s part of my morning beauty routine.’
Vishal : ‘Thank God I’m blessed with a wife that wears her sindoor 24.7 big n bold . Wit respect it also commands respect to married women. It’s the most beautiful thing to see on any married Hindi lady.’
Navitha: ‘We Indian ladies tend to stick our dots on our mirrors, I used to be guilty of that too…and then it happened, on June 3rd 2005, the morning after my husbands funeral…as I got ready to accept the challenges of starting a whole new different life, that of a WIDOW….I will never, never, NEVER forget how i broke down on my room floor..not because I had just stepped out of my en-suite, saw the “white sari” on my bed…white to me was just another color…the reality hit me, when after changing into my clothes, I reached out to my mirror…for my RED STICK ON DOT…Words cannot express my emotions at that time…it was then that I realized, what that dot actually meant to me, and how bare and bland my forehead would be from now on without my precious red dot, it was then it dawned on me, I am now HIS WIDOW…oh how i cried, and memories of our wedding day came flooding back… when my husband used his thumb to imprint a red sindoor dot on my forehead, he didn’t put a small one, gosh it was the size of a 50 cent piece, and when i asked him why he couldn’t make a neat little dot…his words were: ” Cos you taken!..U mine..and I want the whole world to see that!”… How i wish I could still wear his dot, loud and proud…its so true that you often realise the true value of something, once you’ve lost it…’
I was pleasantly surprised that the red dot and sindoor is still revered by so many. The replies on my post reminded me of a famous dialogue from the popular movie “Om Shanti Om”.
“Ek chutki sindoor ki keemat tum kya jaano… You don’t know the value of ne pinch of sindoor
Ishwar ka aashirwad hota hai ek chutki sindoor One pinch of sindoor is the blessing of God
Suhagan ke sarr ka taj hota hai ek chutki sindoor One pinch of sindoor is the crown of a married woman
Har aurat ka khwab hota hai ek chutki sindoor.” One pinch of sindoor is the dream of every woman.
There’s something really captivating about a woman adorned with sindoor. Undeniably, it enhances her beauty and commands her respect. She reflects the image of a Goddess…a vision of divinity. A calm and serene aura yet, she emanates a powerful, spiritual energy. Without saying a word, she conveys a message to the world that is loud and clear: “I am a proud and devoted wife”.
Yes, that is the power of the sacred red powder called Sindoor.
Footnote: Sindoor (also known as kumkum and vermilion) is prepared by combining turmeric, lime and the metal mercury. It’s traditionally red or orange in color. Turmeric is known for its medicinal and calming properties. Therefore, applying sindoor is beneficial for the physical and psychological well-being of the woman as she carries out her responsibilities in her marriage. Interestingly, the sixth chakra (third eye) is centred on the forehead between the eyebrows. It’s considered the channel through which mental power and spirituality can be enhanced.
Red is the color of power and symbolic of the female energy of the Hindu Goddess Parvati. Mother Parvati is regarded as the ideal wife and every Hindu wife is expected to emulate her. Hindus believe that Goddess Parvati protects all those men whose wives apply the sacred sindoor.