Shakti: A Lesson Learned From the Bindi
Bindi, kumkuma, sindoor, bhottu, tika, each region of India has a different name for it. Each woman has a different connection with it. I was never one to put a bindi on willingly. I would try to mask adorning it after noticing how it drew attention to myself. My classmates asked, "What’s that between your eyebrows?" Growing up in Moline, it was bad enough to be asked, “Are you a dot Indian or a feather Indian?” I already dressed up like an “Indian Princess” for Halloween every year. More attention was the last thing I wanted.
It wasn’t until I started to sketch that I realized how important the bindi was in my artwork. Every time I drew, my figure wore a bindi. But why? I never chose to wore one in real life, except for performances. Then one day, I decided to research the significance of the bindi and my world changed.
The bindi represents strength. Shakti means strength. What or who is Shakti? Shakti, one of the many names of the Goddess, represents feminine energy and strength. We place the bindi between the eyebrows, where the Shakti Chakra is located. The bindi, the third eye, placed to look into the soul. This blew my mind. All these years, I thought it was something I HAD to wear. That it just was a symbol of being a girl, a married woman, decoration. That wasn’t enough for me to adorn it with pride. Wearing a bindi now is to recognize my own strength, my soul. Now as I finish my prayers, I look to the Goddess and place the bindi, with vermillion powder, in between my eyebrows. I gather my inner strength and connect with her as She helps me find that strength to be the best woman I can be.
Written by Priya Narayan. Priya originally began working on Bindis and Bruises in 2013 while working on Masters in Interdisciplinary Arts from Columbia College Chicago. She performed Bindis and Bruises for the first time in May 2014. Bindis and Bruises has since grown, through the collaboration with Ellyzabeth Adler, to include more stories of survivors. Opening March 4, 8pm at Ebenezer Lutheran Church.