Hindu women have a custom of wearing a round, red mark between the eyebrows called a “bindi” (also spelled “bindhi”). The application of bindis is common in South Asia, including the countries of India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. In some parts of India, a bindi traditionally signifies that a woman is married. In other sections of India, all girls wear bindis. A bindi can also signify the caste or sect a woman belongs to. In every case, a bindi carries a spiritual and religious meaning in addition to its cultural significance. Of the various Indian decorations of the body, the bindi is considered to have the strongest religious implication.
A bindi represents an individual’s “spiritual eye,” also called the “third eye,” which some claim gives spiritual vision. Through the third eye, Hindus believe they can obtain extraordinary perspective, seeing that which cannot be seen through their physical eyes. Hindu gurus and saints meditate by focusing their energies toward the spiritual eye. It is believed that, when the individual’s spiritual eye opens, he attains true enlightenment and gets closer to whatever god he’s trying to reach.
The bindi is located over the sixth chakra, assumed to be one of the psychic “energy spots” on the human body. Thus, a bindi marks the nexus of concentrated, secret wisdom associated with mantra meditation. Bindis are also thought to purify the intellect, improve concentration skills, retain energy, bring good fortune, and ward off evil spirits. The red color is said to be a symbol of power and strength.
A bindi is also seen as an enhancement of beauty. An old Indian proverb says, “A woman’s beauty is multiplied one thousand times when she wears a bindi.”
Western culture, with its ever-shifting notions of style and fashion, will advocate wearing just about anything, including bindis. Just as non-Christians sometimes wear crosses as a fashion accessory, non-Hindus sometimes wear bindis. In Western fashion, a bindi is often a shape other than round and a color other than red. Some women choose to tattoo or pierce their foreheads for a more permanent bindi. Celebrities such as Madonna, Selena Gomez, and Katy Perry have all sported bindis in public. Whatever statement these persons are trying to make, the connection to Hinduism still exists.
Every custom within Hindu culture has a certain meaning to it, and all Indian customs are linked in some way to their gods. For this reason, a Christian woman should have serious reservations about wearing a bindi. Even if she herself does not see her bindi as a lucky charm or source of psychic energy, others—especially those familiar with Eastern mysticism—will associate it with pagan traditions.
“What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?” Paul asks. “For we are the temple of the living God. . . . Therefore, ‘Come out from them and be separate,’ says the Lord. ‘Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you’” (2 Corinthians 6:16–17). Christians should have nothing to do with the stuff of idolatry. Those who wear a bindi identify themselves with cultural practices that deny the One True God.