History and Significance of Sindoor
Sindoor or vermilion holds a lot of importance in Indian society. The tradition of application of sindoor in the parting of hair by married Hindu women is considered extremely auspicious and is being carried on since centuries.
Symbolic of Married Hindu Woman
In traditional Hindu society, wearing sindoor is considered must for married Hindu women. It is a visible expression of their desire for their husbands' longevity. Traditionally, therefore, widow's did not wear vermilion.
Sindoor is applied for the first time to a Hindu woman during the marriage ceremony when the bridegroom himself adorns her with it. The ceremony is called Sindoor-Dana and is very much in vogue even in present times. Religious scholars say that there has been no mention of this ceremony before the Grihasutras hence it is considered to be a relatively new practice.
The tradition of wearing Sindoor by married women has been explained with the help of mythology. Scholars say that red is the color of power while vermilion is a symbol of the female energy of Parvati and Sati. Hindu mythological legends regard Sati as the ideal wife who gave her life for her husband's honor. Every Hindu wife is supposed to emulate her. Hindus believe that Goddess Parvati protects all those men whose wives apply vermillion to their parting of the hair.
History of Sindoor
The tradition of wearing Sindoor or Vermillion is said to have traveled through more than 5,000 years of Hindu culture. Female figurines excavated at Mehrgarh, Baluchistan, show that sindoor was applied to the partition of women's hair even in early Harappan times. Besides, legends say that Radha, the consort of Lord Krishna, turned the kumkum into a flame like design on her forehead. In the famous epic Mahabharata, Draupadi, the wife of the Pandavas, is believed to have wiped her sindoor in disgust and despair. Use of Sindoor has also been mentioned in The Puranas, Lalitha Sahasranamam, and Soundarya Lahharis.
Power of Sindoor
Sindoor is pure and powerful. It has been given a lot of importance in our culture. Sindoor is used in religious ceremonies. It is offered to the Gods and is considered very auspicious. When a woman applies sindoor on her head it is to tell people that she is married. No unmarried woman in India is allowed to apply sindoor on their head. It is a symbol of purity and power.
Lord Shiva And Sindoor
In the wedding of Bhagwan Shiva with Parvati, this tradition was followed and Bhagwan Shiva applied sindoor on the head of Parvati. Since this, the tradition has been followed in all Hindu weddings. It is compulsory Hindu married women to apply sindoor. This tradition is still followed in Hindu weddings. However, some women today do not prefer to use the Sindoor and they consider it too traditional.
Theories Behind Sindoor Tradition
Some say that it was used by women to make themselves look more attractive. There is no mention of applying sindoor in our Vedas. However, the wife of Shiva, Parvati and the wife of Bhagwan Rama, Sita used to wear sindoor.
It is said that women who wear sindoor ensure that their husbands are protected from all evil and have a long life. The color of sindoor attracts the husband to the wife and helps to build the marriage. The woman whose husband is dead should not wear sindoor at all. It was also an attempt to ensure that unmarried women and widows don’t look very attractive.
There is also a belief that the sindoor in the olden days were a little poisonous in nature so that if the honor of a woman is attacked she could consume the sindoor and commit suicide.
Changing Value Systems
The tradition of wearing sindoor is as old as 5000 years. This is a custom that is an integral part of our culture and tradition. Some people also feel that wearing sindoor is a way to oppress the woman and make them feel that they belong to a man. It is not something that independent women should do. Some women also feel that why should they wear sindoor whereas men do not wear anything to prove that they are married. However, some feel that wearing sindoor makes the marriage strong. It brings the man and the woman closer. The sindoor if applied regularly can become very powerful and can also act as a protection for the husband. It is advised that the forehead of a married woman should never be blank.
Astrological Significance of Sindoor
The house of Aries is on the forehead and to control this house red sindoor is applied on the forehead. The color of Aries is red. The sindoor is made by mixing turmeric, lime, and mercury. This is exactly why the sindoor can control blood pressure and also improves sexual drive. Mercury also helps women to deal with stress.
The sindoor must be applied up to the pituitary gland where all the feelings stay. This helps the women to control their emotions better. When they can control their emotions they can take better care of their husbands and of the other members of the family.
As sindoor improves sexual drive it is not recommended for unmarried women and widows. A young girl does not have many responsibilities in her father’s house but as she becomes married her responsibilities increase. Suddenly when too many responsibilities come on her she may get pressurized and loose her control this is why wearing sindoor was so important for these women. Sindoor is also considered to be the symbol of the female energy of Parvati and Sati.
Applying sindoor is considered very auspicious and no marriage in Hinduism is complete without it. The tradition of applying sindoor by the groom on the bride is called sindoor daan. The red color of sindoor also symbolizes power and strength. The touch of sindoor makes the marriage auspicious and strong.
Sindoor vs Tilak
The fact that sindoor is considered as a symbol of power can be made out of the fact that even men would apply Tilak on their foreheads before they would go to the battlefield. This sindoor would give them the strength to fight the enemies. Tilak was done usually done by the wife if the husband was going to the battlefield.
In ancient India, sindoor was prepared in the house. Today sindoor can be purchased in the shops. Sindoor is offered to Bhagwan Ganesha and also to Bhagwan Hanuman. It is said that Bhagwan Hanuman used to smear his body with sindoor to please Bhagwan Rama. Sindoor is also offered to Goddess Parvati and Shakti
Use of Sindoor During Festivals
Both Sindoor and kumkum have social and religious significance attached to them. In North India, it is customary for a husband to apply sindoor on his wife's forehead during important festivals such as Navaratri and Sankranti. Besides, Sindoor and kumkum are also offered to Gods mostly in temples dedicated to Shakti, Lakshmi, and Vishnu.