"What's that thing between your eyes?"

" That thing is a bindi."

I've heard this question and answered it a thousand times since I began wearing Bindis, the highly visible and intriguing artifact worn between the brows. If youve ever seen a photograph of an Indian woman in traditional dress, or stepped foot on the Asian subcontinent, chances are you are familiar with the Bindi.

I started wearing Bindis on a daily basis after my second trip to India, in order to bring a bit of that culture into my life here in the western world. I just love wearing them! One reason is they stimulate conversations. Bindi wearing allows me to launch into my adventures and stories of India, the place where no one will ask you, Whats that dot on your forehead?

Women in India wear Bindis like we in the States wear jewelry or lipstick, for beauty enhancement. Yet, there is a deeper meaning to pressing a colorful design on the Buddha spot, also known as the third eye.

It began as a red smudge of Kum Kum powder on the forehead between the brows. This tradition of marking the upper face was done in the temple to cast off the evil eye, give protection to the wearer and to honor Vishnu, the third god in the Hindu Trinity, and preserver of the universe. Men too, perform the ritual placement of Kum Kum, ( red ground stone) or Vibuthi, (a Grey ash substance) for symbolic reasons and to announce one as a spiritual seeker. Wandering Yogis display varied combinations of shapes and lines with the red kum kum powder and the ash colored vibuthi, to identify what community they come from.

Yet, it doesnt end there. While staying at an ashram in the South of India, I was told that it is also worn to aid the opposite sex in focusing the eye attention in the proper area. Young Women who are unmarried traditionally wear colorful Bindis in India. You will also see newborns with the red dot marking. Married women arent excluded from the ritual, they have the simple single red dot as well, which identifies them as wedded. Sometimes, the dot is replaced with a streak of red from the spiritual eye point up to  the hairline, toensure  the husbands good health. Widowed females cease the ritual of Bindi wearing upon the mates passing. The Bindi selection is quite large and varied. There are Fancy Bindis, which are just what the name implies, fancy. Tiny jewels are strategically placed within the design. The latest trend in Bindi design is an elegant thin shape, in gold or silver metallic material. These simple styles are meant to be worn only once, as the texture is delicate and the sticky backing loses the grip after one use.

My favorite Bindi is the teardrop that almost appears as a three dimensional art piece, with tiny circular gold beads in the center framing a second layer of a different configuration atop the first. Being economical, I have discovered one can reuse these over and over again with the aid of Bindi glue. Bindi glue is similar to Elmer's glue and is non-toxic to the skin.

Bindis range in price, but the average cost is four to twelve dollars per package, which contains six to twelve Bindis. For special holiday or festival events, when one wishes to adorn the face with an ornate Bindi, there are original, one of a kind Bindis, for around fifteen to twenty dollars. The Internet can be a great source for starting your Bindi collection. Punch in BINDI in a good search engine, such as http://www.google.com , and vendors who ship these fun forms of adornment to your doorstep can be found. If you're not hooked into the computer world, visit an ethnic clothing shop and ask the merchants if they currently carry Bindis, or would order them for you.

In years past weve seen some high profile females such as Madonna, Chelsea Clinton, and Goldie Hawn adding the magical touch of Bindi wearing to their beauty regime. Whether its for a special event, or becomes a daily ritual symbolic of spiritual meaning, be brave, add a bit of international savvy to your look and give the Bindi a chance! Who knows, you just might become a Bindi lover like I have.

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