Friday, March 13, 2009

Meri Bindiya Re!

I used to wear a bindi most of the time, once I got married. Since I tend to perspire a lot, I'd wear sticker bindis, large-ish, rather than use powder or liquid bindis. The bindi was something I never even thought about - it was just there, stuck on my forehead, unless I was wearing 'western' attire.
A friend of mine used to wear her bindi even with western clothes, insisting that it was a part of who she was. For decades it was a non-negotiable part of me, something that I automatically put on and bought and replenished supplies of when my stock was getting over. But, for the last couple of years, as a considered political statement, the bindi is no longer a part of my attire.
I do not wish to be identified, at sight, as a member of a particular religious community. If I'm out in public, I am just another Indian woman, wearing whatever attire I choose to on a given day. The people who know me do know who I am, and I really don't care about those who don't. Neither do I wish to announce my marital status to the world at large. On a recent visit to Delhi a young niece of mine noticed my missing bindi, and asked me about it. My explanation made sense to her- she realised it wasn't just a random whim.

I think bindis look really pretty, and, until I thought about it, I really did like wearing one.
But in my own small way, this is my way of expressing solidarity with all Indian women, not just the ones whose religion expects them to wear a bindi.

21 comments:

Mamma mia! Me a mamma? said...

Wow! What a strong statement! Three cheers to you!

kbpm said...

dipali

exactly. so nice that you wrote this.

'are you ashamed of what you are?' some people ask me. no, not at all. its not as simple as that!

I too love bindis. Even the coloured jing bang ones. So does daughter. We do wear them when we go 'traditional' in our saris and long skirts. I think to her, its more a 'dress up' thing (poor soul born to a woman who does not know the right end of a lipstick) and is unlikely to have any religious connotations...

D said...

I ditto you stand.

Anonymous said...
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2 B's mommy said...

*clap* every woman should have a right to choose whether they want to put a bindi/mangalsutra/sindoor etc or not.
I wore bindi only for the six months I was in India after I got married. Had never worn a bindi before that or after except for special occasions. I can't remember when was the last time I put sindoor in my maang ! It always draws comments from almost every one when I go to India.

Anonymous said...

this really touched me

Phoenixritu said...

Wonderful. Hats off to you. I agree that we are Indian first, women second, and the rest comes much later

Mimi said...

Wow!!Such a well written post.
I have a cousin,who used,smack our foreheads,if we didn't put a bindi ...and I used to HATE it..the smacking.I love Bindis though..and sindoor too,but don't use them regularly.Every once in a while I do..but when I feel like..And like you said,I want to be looked at as an Indian woman,and not as one belonging to a particular sect or religion.

DotThoughts said...

kudos to you dipali!!!! More power to you. I always wondered, but thought you never wore them.

naperville mom said...

Once I realized the 'religious' context to bindis, I stopped wearing it regularly too. Nowadays, I wear it very rarely... sometimes, while going to the temple. Yeah, why advertise our faith, rightly said, Dipali:)

Anonymous said...

Very well put. A bindi also signifies discrimination against widows. That is a big problem I have with certain symbols of marriage.
Long time reader, first time commenting here.

Veena

eve's lungs said...

That's a very courageous statement. I have dispensed with the bindi and wear it only when I want to look dressy which isnt very often :)

ra said...

wow!

mayG said...

wow dipali, I am in awe of your stance on this!

GettingThereNow said...

So well said! I never even noticed that you don't wear one :P I don't wear one, and no other signs to indicate my marital status either. I think I don't need to advertise my marital status to anyone.

choxbox said...

same 'ere! i wear it when i want to.
LOLing at kenny, re right end of the lipstick etc.

mandira said...

while i agree to what u say, i still like the bindi... deep red and round and of kumkum. i think it looks beautiful when worn with a sari... that fact that i dnt wear the sari or the bindi is a different matter...so dnt give it up entirely..wear it once in a while..

SM said...

Hi, agree with your reasoning, but would want to arrive at a different conclusion.

I do not want bindi to be identified with any particular religion / region - and that is why I want to be able to wear a bindi at all times .. with traditional indian outfits or western outfits. That is the face I want to present to the world, and so long as it is not causing bodily harm to anybody else, that is what I want to look like.

SM

P.S. I do think it is rather unfortunate that bindi has become so closely identified with a particular religion. It is, to me, largely cosmetic in nature, which, like any other good make up product, gives me just that little added extra dose of confidence with which to face an otherwise hostile world.

Mystic Margarita said...

I am against being labeled due to my choice of accessories, too. Which is why I don't wear sindoor, mangalsutra, or the customary loha that married bengali women wear and rarely wear a bindi. And I ditto your sentiments about the bindi, too.

But even unmarried girls wear bindis, too, right? So a bindi can't always define marital status. As for religion, I know many girls from other religions who also wear bindis - but i agree that bindis can slot women to some extent. Great post, Dips!

Mampi said...

absolutely right.
For a woman to shun this custom for such a strong belief is a brave thing to do.

starry eyed said...

Totally! Took me a long time to shake off all the disapproval and predications of doom and misfortune when I didn't wear a bindi...or even a 'big' enough bindi! Another way to control women...I've changed it into my symbol of rebellion:)

Way to go!