The dash of vermilion powder on a bride’s forehead is her holiest mark as she begins her journey as a bride, for the rest of her life. Donned between the hair partition; sindoor, also known as kumkum, represents years of ancient folklore and beliefs about a woman’s validation as a married woman. Put on by the husband during wedding rituals, sindoor is then applied by women every day to mark his presence in her life. In actuality as well, it is considered to be the symbol of matrimony in Indian households and an essential part of a woman’s marriage.For years, women have been subjected to wearing sindoor over their foreheads to showcase their position as a respectable daughter-in-law in households. The application of sindoor has been a very important part of structuring a woman’s personality after marriage. Ancient folklores suggested that those who wore maang-bhar ke sindoor (forehead full of sindoor) are to be respected as their husband’s bride.
The prevalence of sindoor dates back to centuries
This practice of validation ranges back to the Harappan civilisation where women started wearing sindoor, as a prominent mark of being married, and not to be persuaded by other males. Hindu scriptures also relayed the message that Radha, Lord Krishna’s wife, wore sindoor on her forehead which resembled the shape of a flame. It is also said that Sita, Lord Rama’s wife applied sindoor to please her husband, according to the Hindu epic, Ramayana. Centuries and generations of beliefs turned this ritual into an absolute necessity, women in recent times started questioning whether this mark solely represented their position as a married woman.
The ancient scriptures also suggested that sindoor was used for medicinal purposes; the red powder had medicinal properties that stimulated blood flow within a woman, that urged them to have a higher sex drive. After all, these beliefs only suggested that the end goal of applying sindoor was only to please men and the chauvinistic society.
Presence of sindoor in modern culture
Sindoor’s further impact on women
It’s actually true when said that somehow, during all this time, sindoor lost its relevance in modern society. Say, a progressive woman steps out while wearing sindoor is shunned for being ‘overly conservative’ while a woman who chooses not to wear it, is socially constricted by others of the same age group. Some end up wearing sindoor to avoid facing unruly judgements and some don’t wear them, in fear of being socially stranded.
In recent times, influential women have been recreating uses and colours of sindoor in many concepts to prove that sindoor, is in fact not a dated concept, but something that is evolving constantly. Even though its primary goal had been to please men, it has now progressed into classical ways of empowering women’s choices and their opinions. Above all, it’s ultimately a woman’s choice to adorn her forehead with sindoor.