The bindi worn by hindu women on their forehead, between the two eyebrows, is not a mere red dot – it is a symbolic representation of the sanatani cultural roots of our country. The word bindi is derived from the Sanskrit term ‘bindu’ meaning a drop or a particle, though it is known by different names in different languages.
During the Vedic era, around 3000 BC, the seers who wrote the vedas, believed in the existence of areas of concentrated energy called ‘chakras‘. There are seven chakras which run along the centre of the body and the sixth chakra or ajna chakra / brow chakra or third eye chakra is located exactly where the bindi is worn.
In Sanskrit, the word ‘ajna’ translates as ‘command’ or to ‘perceive’. Hence the ajna chakra is considered to be the eye of intuition and intellect. We are aware that the two physical eyes we possess help us in viewing the external world. The third eye, on the other hand, helps us in perceiving our inner self and thaf of the Supreme Power or God. Whatever we see in our subconscious or in our dreams, is seen by the ajna too. The bindi worn on that very spot helps in enhancing the power of seeing the world around us in a much clearer perspective, with greater wisdom, in a truthful unbiased manner, forsaking all ego.
When a hindu bride enters the abode of her husband for the first time, along with the many ornaments worn by her, the red bindi is on her forehead is a must. It signifies piety, chastity and the fact that she has now been included as a new guardian of the house. In the modern era though, bindi is not limited to a red dot but comes in different colours and designs. Nonetheless, the significance of the bindi for a hindu lady remains the same.
The glamour world of our country, which should ideally have served as the platform to showcase the beauty, the richness and the uniqueness of our culture and heritage, have actually done the reverse.
Over the years, our films have subtly been projecting traditional hindus, their rituals and practices in extremely poor light making them appear much inferior and cringe worthy as compared to that of other religions. The idea is to erase hinduism without any bloodshed, from the minds of those who are born hindu and also to portray India and it’s ancient heritage negatively to the western world.
Of late, such portrayal has increased and the ad world has also picked up the gauntlet of painting hindu rituals and practices as black. The advertisements of various brands are now laced with a certain ‘social message’ which in most cases hurt hindu religious sentiments.
Last year we had the Tanishq ad, ‘Ekatvam’ which was believed to promote ‘love jehad’. This year, we had the Manyavar ad just before Durga Puja/Navaratri, which bore a message against the practice of ‘kanyadaan’ in a Hindu marriage, even though this practice is prevalent in other religious communities too. Two years back, we had The Telegraph carrying out a campaign to change the Durganjali mantra from ‘putran dehi’ to ‘santanang dehi’ because they believed that ‘putran dehi’ implied seeking a male child and was, accordingly misogynistic, thus displaying their lack of knowledge of Sanskrit and of hindu scriptures because ‘putran dehi’ is gender neutral and is meant to seek a progenitor, male or female, who would free one from a hell known as ‘puth’. However, all such campaigns fell flat with a severe outrage from the now conscious hindu community and had to subsequently withdraw these adverts.
This Diwali too, we had a few brands exhibiting their deep inclination towards highlighting hinduphobic themes through their ads. The one which caught everyone’s attention was the Fab India advertisement, which announced their Diwali collection of ‘traditional’ wear calling it the ‘Jashn-e-Riwaaz‘ collection. A barrage of social media comments, tweets and a boycott call compelled them to withdraw the Urdu name, which the hindu community felt was not commensurate with the hindu festival of Deepavli. Another significant feature of the ad was the attire of the models, who wear not seen wearing traditional or ethnic attires meant for Deepavli. The female models were also seen not sporting a bindi which is a must as far as a hindu religious festival is concerned, for the reasons mentioned above.
This is when the #NoBindiNoBusiness campaign began, pioneered by well known blogger, Shefali Vaidya to discourage purchase of products from all those corporates who feature bindiless women in their advertisements, in their Diwali collection. The general belief is that making female models appear without bindis to sell their products, which they market as specific to the hindu festivals, is done deliberately to wipe out the symbolic significance of the bindi for a hindu woman.
Fab India, as usual was compelled to change the name of their collection to ‘Jhilmil si Diwali’ and one of the female models appeared with a smile on her face and alta on her palms but the bindi is still missing. A similar bindiless portrayal of female models was seen in the Diwali collection advertisements of PNG Jewellers and the e-Commerce site, Tata Cliq. The women were also seen in gloomy, dull colours, not in keeping with the festival of lights.
Shefali Vaidya posted advertisements of local brands from Maharashtra where the female models were seen sporting bindies and had a smile on their faces. This was in sharp contrast to the nationally renowned brands showcasing of women in such a morose format, which, the netizens felt, was to whitewash the basic cheerful spirit of the festival of Diwali.
Bindi is regularly worn by hindu women, as a practice, not always as a fashion statement – something which caught the attention of the west and Hollywood celebrities like Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens were seen sporting bindis. Hence, the practice of making female models appear without bindis during hindu festivals, was seen by the hindu netizens as a mischievous ploy to market the practice of not wearing the bindi, thus trying to wipe out one prominent hindu practice, by the well known brands. It now remains to be seen how the #NoBindiNoBusiness campaign affects them.