The red dot, or Bindi as it is known, has a deep and significant importance in the Indian culture. However, it is also commonly used as a decoration or an accessory.
Cultures evolve. This is especially true of a culture that is thousands of years old. Likewise, the function and purpose of a bindi has changed over the years from an object with religious significance to something with cultural importance to a decorative accessory.
In the Vedas, the region between the eyebrows has a significant importance. According to the Vedas, this region is aid to represent the sixth sense, known as chakra or ajna. It is the place of the third eye which allows us to see the world and everything in it with a concealed wisdom. The bindi is put in this region as it is considered to retain energy and strengthen the concentration. It was also a way to worship one’s intellect. It was also a physical representation of the third eye. This is also why it is commonly used by both men and women, even though they have different styles. The ‘bindi’ is also commonly known as 'tika', 'pottu', 'sindoor', 'tilak', 'tilakam', and 'kumkum'. It is commonly worn in South Asia, particularly India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Mauritius, as well as Southeast Asia.
After hundreds of years of use as a religious emblem, it also became one of cultural importance. Many regions adapted the bindi and formed their own cultural significance around it. All gurus and aged wise men traditionally wear huge tilaks (an elongated bindi) to signify their wisdom. Similarly, all wise women and matriarchs also wear the traditional bindi. In some cultures all women wear the bindi, whereas in others only married women do. Likewise, all men might, or only married men might. In some cultures, it must be worn everyday single day as a rule, whereas in others, it might only be worn on special occasions or functions.
Eventually after thousands of years, the bindi has taken a life of its own. Today, there are three main groups: one that wears bindis everyday, another where it worn only on special and traditional occasions, and a third, who never wears it at all. The bindi has now been changed from a cultural and religious object to an aesthetic one. It is commonly used today by all groups, men, women, other, and by South Asians and non South Asians alike.
The bindis have grown and adapted to become a cosmetic accessory. It has also changed from the traditional red dot to a multitude of designs and colors. For ease of use, there are many different forms of sticker bindis available. These sticker bindis come with their own adhesive, all one has to do is peel it of the plastic and place it on their forehead. Sticker bindis come in many colors, designs, materials, and sizes. Some are decorated with sequins, glass beads, or rhinestones.
They are also being used as style statements. Many international celebrities such as Gwen Stefani, Julia Roberts, Madonna, Selena Gomez and others have been seen wearing bindis and incorporating them as well as other Indian styles and iconography in their outfits, and work, such as videos and performances.