Forehead is the choice of canvas for fine arts in India: the designated destination for decorative art. In a land where lipstick on lips is frowned on, there is complete freedom when it comes to forehead. It is not just the married woman, it is everyone: small children, gown up men, domesticated animals, and of course the still idols of god. Anyone one with a reachable forehead is a fair game.
I am told that there is deep significance in the placement of the dot in the middle of the forehead. This is place where the third eye is: you know the wisdom eye. So the dot is just a wisdom eye patch. Indians are just wise pirates.
Black dots on children are to avoid evil eyes. How exactly the evil is distracted by making them cuter?
Red dot on woman’s forehead is to mark them as married. I get it. Put a big red dot on forehead, so that it is easy for other men to target them.
The marks on unmarried girls are supposed to be a replacement for a missing jewelry that they are too poor to have or too young to wear. So that is like a chalk mark in a crime scene. Hurry! Put some yellow tape so that no can touch it until we find the jewelry.
What about the thick white lines that span across the forehead of Indian men? Forehead is where fate writes the future of all Indians. So those lines are just whiteouts: when it came to Indian men fate made a lot of typos.
When it comes to forehead decoration, the possibilities are endless. Indians use anything and everything: from curd to charcoal, from turmeric to vermillion, from sandalwood to ashes. They come in all forms: powder, paste, liquid. India may not have self-adhesive stamps, but self-adhesive forehead decoration was invented decades ago. The shape and size are more varied than all the elaborate hieroglyphs combined. So are the colors: red being the popular choice, with white close second. I wonder if that is a representation of blood and bones. There are more words to describe the marks then there are words for forehead. I guess background is not as important.
The auspicious time for forehead decoration cannot be more logical. A grown man just got out of long bath – time to rub some ashes on forehead. A married lady just washed her face – time to put some red paint on forehead. A mother just cleaned the baby – time to smear some black paint on her forehead. A young man in immaculate formal dress is ready to leave for his important interview – time to put some yogurt on his forehead. Nothing looks more professional than a dollop of yogurt reminiscent of lunch accident of a sloppy eater. A young girl is about to get married and face her would be husband for the first night – put a think layer of elaborate decoration on her forehead. What better way to distract the nervous groom, or provide an excellent icebreaker for the awkward moments when they are alone.
In India, you cannot go anywhere without being stamped on your forehead. India is like a big night club: once you enter you cannot leave without a stamp on your forehead that reads “Been to India.”