What Is the Meaning of Forehead Jewelry Worn by Indian Women?

The tika and the bindi are two traditional Hindu forehead decorations.

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Sometimes what you wear doesn't only reflect your sense of style, but also says something deeper about who you are, reflecting your spirituality or culture. Forehead adornments worn by Indian women are rooted in Hinduism and are a traditional way to outwardly express identity. Dressing to display your heritage celebrates your uniqueness with confidence, so don't be afraid to draw inspiration from this example and show off what makes you special.

The 16 Adornments

According to the website "The Heart of Hinduism," ancient Sanskrit texts call for Hindu women to adorn themselves with 16 different garments and pieces of jewelry to emphasize their femininity. In Hindu tradition, decoration is an important characteristic of outward beauty, although donning all 16 pieces is saved for special events, such as weddings. Brides at traditional Hindu ceremonies wear all 16 adornments, including forehead jewelry, to show that they honor tradition.

The Tika

Tikas are ornate forehead ornaments made up of a chain with a pendant at one end. A hook at the opposite end holds the decoration in the woman's hair so that the decorative charm sits in the middle of her forehead. The charm falls exactly on what Hindus call the "ajna" chakra or energy center, which stands for preservation. By wearing a tika, a woman asserts her traditional role as protector of order within the human race. The tika also represents male-female unity, which is why it's an important part of the bride's outfit at a Hindu wedding. Male-female unity resulting in balance is an important theme in Hinduism. According to Indian religious tradition, the deity Shiva's passion stays in balance thanks to his wife Parvati's influence.

The Bindi

The bindi forehead adornment is more common for day-to-day wear among Hindu women. The term bindi comes from the Sanskrit word "bindu," meaning "point" or "dot." This sticker-like adornment is worn where the Hindu deity Shiva has his third eye, which represents insight and wisdom. In some traditions, a red bindi shows that a woman is married, and is similar to the social symbol of the wedding ring in Western culture.

A Fashion Item

The bindi has gradually become a fashion statement, and Hindu and non-Hindu women alike may wear them simply as accessories. Although the red, circular dot is the traditional symbol for a married Hindu women, you can buy bindis in a number of shapes, styles and colors and wear one even if unattached. Women wear bindis with saris or to perform traditional Indian dances, choosing a style that goes well with the other colors and fabrics they're wearing.

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