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Bindi is derived from bindu, the Sanskrit word for dot or drop.

It is usually a red dot made with vermilion powder, which is worn by women between their eyebrows on their forehead, signifying the third eye.

Considered a symbol of Parvati, a bindi signifies female energy and is believed to protect women and their husbands.

Traditionally a symbol of marriage (vivaha), it has also become decorative and is worn today by unmarried girls and women as well.

No longer restricted in color or shape, bindis are seen in many bright colors and in different shapes and designs.

They are also made of colored felt and embellished with colored glass or glitter.

No one knows exactly when the tradition of putting on a bindi started, but for centuries it has been seen on the foreheads of Hindu men and women.

The bindi worn by women is made of red lead whereas the one worn by men is of sandalwood paste, both of these substances are known for their cooling properties.

When a man wears a bindi it is sometimes known as a tilak.

A bindi worn by women is also the reminder of their wedding vows, because a bindi is worn by Hindu married women to symbolize their marriage.

However today the religious significance of the bindi is largely forgotten and it is now often worn as a fashion accessory.

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