Show Summary Details

Quick Reference

A mark applied principally to the forehead, but also on occasion to other parts of the body, with a paste made from a colouring substance, such as sandalwood or ash. Its significance depends on the context: inter alia, it may signify an individual's current social status (e.g. a red dot indicating that a woman is married), a temporary condition, such as a special consecration (dīkṣā), the receipt of prasāda after making a pūjā, the membership of a particular ascetic or sectarian order, or it may be merely decorative. In the case of sectarian marks, the lines (usually black, red, yellow, and white) may be extensive, covering the entire forehead. A common feature of Vaiṣṇava markings is a figure curved upward like the letter U from the meeting point of the eyebrows, with a vertical red line between its arms; the Śaiva tilaka or tripuṇḍara consists of three horizontal lines of ash, with or without a central dot or ‘third eye’; Śākta tilakas are usually variations on the Śaiva pattern, or a stylized third eye.

Subjects: Hinduism.

Reference entries

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.