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Thread: why do we wear Bindi?




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    Just Starting! heypixiegirl's Avatar
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    why do we wear Bindi?

    I am currently in heated debate on whether wearing Bindi s is culturally appropriate?


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    Advanced BHUZzer gisela's Avatar
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    Re: why do we wear Bindi?

    well, I don't wear it because I dance egyptian bellydance and bindis are not historically worn in egypt, so for me there's no connection thus no reason whatsoever to wear bindis.
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    Advanced BHUZzer carpediem's Avatar
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    Re: why do we wear Bindi?

    I agree with Gisela. For me, there's no reason to wear them.
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    Just Starting! heypixiegirl's Avatar
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    Re: why do we wear Bindi?

    I dance tribal fusion, and ats. (My troupe has always worn bindis)
    I have always seen belly dancers with bindis on.
    I just want to know if there is any information as to why that is.


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    Established BHUZzer rachelw's Avatar
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    Re: why do we wear Bindi?

    I think most people wear them because they're pretty and they add sparkle to your face. I think some people are genuinely confused and think they're Middle Eastern when they're not (at least not to my knowledge). Or in the case of fusion, they're deliberately blending cultures by bringing in the Indian influence. I used to wear them more often before I was better at doing stage make up and they added a little more decoration to my face and my troupe was a little more fusion-y. Now that I'm primarily doing Egyptian and I'm better at stage make up, I don't.

    When you ask whether they're culturally appropriate, what do you mean exactly? Is the question whether it's offensive in some way for a BDer to wear a bindi? Or is the question more of authenticity?
    Last edited by rachelw; 04-05-2013 at 09:39 PM.


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    Re: why do we wear Bindi?

    You bring up a great point because bindis were really a symbol used in Indian culture that originally had a religious significance and they have now turned into a decorative piece for people who do not see the meaning behind it. I had to look it up and found this great description:
    "Traditionally, the area between the eyebrows (where the bindi is placed) is said to be the sixth chakra, ajna, the seat of "concealed wisdom". According to followers of Hinduism, this chakra is the exit point for kundalini energy. The bindi is said to retain energy and strengthen concentration. It is also said to protect against demons or bad luck. The bindi also represents the third eye."
    Bindi (decoration) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    There are some old Bhuz threads on this subject which are suggested at the bottom of your thread like this one: Bindis?
    They had some great explanations and points of view. Worth checking into.
    Last edited by TrishaRaqs; 04-05-2013 at 09:37 PM. Reason: typo


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    Mega BHUZzer kashmir's Avatar
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    Re: why do we wear Bindi?

    Not sure what the boundries are for cultural appropriateness for Tribal as it draws from all over the world regardless of culture, sex or species. Certainly they are inappropriate for any traditional forms of belly dance.

    Are the wearing of bindis offensive to Hindus? I don't know.

    Why do people wear them? I guess because they are sparkly and many people are under the mistaken belief that belly dance comes from India - either in the recent past or via the myth of the Gypsy Trail.


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    Established BHUZzer Tiziri's Avatar
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    Re: why do we wear Bindi?

    Quote Originally Posted by kashmir View Post
    Not sure what the boundries are for cultural appropriateness for Tribal as it draws from all over the world regardless of culture, sex or species. Certainly they are inappropriate for any traditional forms of belly dance.

    Are the wearing of bindis offensive to Hindus? I don't know.

    Why do people wear them? I guess because they are sparkly and many people are under the mistaken belief that belly dance comes from India - either in the recent past or via the myth of the Gypsy Trail.
    I tend to think of it as a "mythical Silk Road" kind of aesthetic...I also agree that a lot of it is the sparkle factor.

    This got me once when I was doing tribal classes. As a Muslim there's no wearing of the symbols of other religions. But for our second recital, we were supposed to wear bindis. The one that was offered me was round and vermilion -- it had a little jewel, but I was still pretty sure it was a traditional Hindu bindi, and if not, it was too close for my comfort. I said no, and was embarrassed to be saying no, but everyone understood and a diamond-shaped turquoise one was found that didn't look like anything but sparkle. Talking about it with people more knowledgeable than me, they all agreed "there are bindis that are religious" and "there are bindis that are secular accessories just meant to be pretty decoration," and I think this is generally correct, but I'm not sure where the line is drawn. I still wouldn't wear a round vermilion bindi anymore than I'd wear a crucifix or a pentacle or an "om" shirt, because for me it's too obviously a symbol of another religion (even the blue sparkly one felt a little iffy to me -- I know people who'd say "no problem" and people who'd say, "What on earth are you doing?!") I'm no expert on bindis. To be on the safe side I probably wouldn't wear one again, but that's a specific concern of mine.


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    Re: why do we wear Bindi?

    the first time i saw a cabaret belly dancer wearing a bindi, i was confused. i'm half indian and muslim, and do not wear bindis for the reasons stated by tiziri.

    the confusion is that south asia and the middle east are separate cultures. we do share some similarities, but the bindi is not one of them. to me it makes me think the bellydancer has no knowledge of the middle east or india.
    i know many like to wear them for sparkle, exotic-ness or tribal, but i have never liked it or agreed with it.


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    Re: why do we wear Bindi?

    I wear them on occasion. As a Pagan, I do not have the NIH issues (Not Invented Here) that monotheists seem to have. Although I'm not Hindu, I do understand - and perhaps more importantly agree with - the mystical "third eye". So I can lay claim to both the spiritual significance - AND the decorative aspects.
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    Re: why do we wear Bindi?

    My understanding is that bindis used to have spiritual significance but now are essentially decorative, like lipstick, so unless you're wearing something that remains a religious marking, you're good to go in terms of a piece of decoration. I wouldn't wear one now unless I was wearing a sari or something and going to a cultural event as a guest.

    Some belly dancers wear bindis because they were real-world fashionable in the late 90s, therefore easy to get and seen everywhere, and they look "exotic", and the community is slow to change its fashions. Beginning and end of it, in my mind.
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    Re: why do we wear Bindi?

    As a Pagan, I do not have the NIH issues (Not Invented Here) that monotheists seem to have
    Most of the world's monotheists don't live in Palestine or Saudi Arabia, so that doesn't actually wash with me. Paganism being a modern, recently invented religion, I guess you can put anything in it you like. Though there has been some wonderful rebuttal of the latest "Ishtar=Easter" wishtory going round of late.

    I have Not Invented Here issues, or perhaps more accurately awareness, not because I have a Catholic upbringing but because I have done some reading around post-colonialism and post-modernity and ethnography and sociology and cultural studies, all of which are pretty atheistic disciplines.
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    Re: why do we wear Bindi?

    Quote Originally Posted by heypixiegirl View Post
    I am currently in heated debate on whether wearing Bindi s is culturally appropriate?
    Hmmm.... what kind of bindi, where are you wearing it and what will you be doing while you're wearing it? I guess the answer is ... it depends LOL!!

    Bindis are from India, not the Middle East. Originally they had significant meaning. Bindis were worn on the forehead between the eyes where the third, spiritual "eye" is. Sometimes, a single red dot on the forehead is worn only by married women.

    But today binidis come in many colors, shapes and sizes, and are worn all over the face as well as on the chest and belly. Elaborate sets of bindi are sometimes called "stick on jewelry". The only similarity between a starburst of colorful bindi stuck around a belly button and the traditional Indian bindi is that they are both stuck on.

    Bindi play a role in Tribal and Fusion belly dance, but not in the Middle Eastern forms. Bindi don't fit with cabaret bedlah, they just look wrong. Wild bindi, like large rhinestone paisley designs, can fit easily into Fusion.Tribal dancers who are after a folksy look are probably better off using bindi than drawing fake facial tattoos. Facial tattoos still carry deep significance and are not worn as decoration (outside of Tribal belly dance).
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    Re: why do we wear Bindi?

    Quote Originally Posted by Peridotty View Post
    You bring up a great point because bindis were really a symbol used in Indian culture that originally had a religious significance and they have now turned into a decorative piece for people who do not see the meaning behind it. I had to look it up and found this great description:
    "Traditionally, the area between the eyebrows (where the bindi is placed) is said to be the sixth chakra, ajna, the seat of "concealed wisdom". According to followers of Hinduism, this chakra is the exit point for kundalini energy. The bindi is said to retain energy and strengthen concentration. It is also said to protect against demons or bad luck. The bindi also represents the third eye."
    Bindi (decoration) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    There are some old Bhuz threads on this subject which are suggested at the bottom of your thread like this one: Bindis?
    They had some great explanations and points of view. Worth checking into.
    Thanks for this, I learned something today!

    I agree that bindis were fashionable some time ago, both in the real world and in the tribal belly dance circles, At that time Indian movements and music also began to appear in Tribal and Tribal Fusion belly dancing. I was never bothered by them, but I do recall attending a show back then featuring lots of different tribal groups - it was a tribal festival - and leaving feeling pretty disgusted with all the weak attempts at fusion. Good dancers, but jeez, know something more about what you are fusing. I remember thinking a lot of it was more about the fashion/costumes than about the dancing. The flamenco/tribal fusion was especially weak, as I recall. The Indian/tribal fusion wasn't much better.
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    Ultimate BHUZzer zorba's Avatar
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    Re: why do we wear Bindi?

    Quote Originally Posted by Zumarrad View Post
    Most of the world's monotheists don't live in Palestine or Saudi Arabia, so that doesn't actually wash with me. Paganism being a modern, recently invented religion, I guess you can put anything in it you like. Though there has been some wonderful rebuttal of the latest "Ishtar=Easter" wishtory going round of late.
    Unfortunately, most of the world's monotheists live in North America - if their repeated, and continuous attempts to turn the US into a Theocracy are any indication.

    "Recently invented"?

    Some branches of Paganism are, and some are not. Some are based on all kinds of Wishtory, and some are not. The same can be said for certain branches of Monotheism. Whatever.
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    Re: why do we wear Bindi?

    When I was a teenager, I used to wear bindis for special occasions because they were pretty and sparkly! After I started belly dancing years later, I would wear bindis sometimes because they were still pretty and sparkly. However, I only wear them with tribal style costuming.


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    Re: why do we wear Bindi?

    Quote Originally Posted by zorba View Post
    Unfortunately, most of the world's monotheists live in North America - if their repeated, and continuous attempts to turn the US into a Theocracy are any indication.
    About 12 per cent of the world's Christians. apparently, and of course that doesn't include Muslims and Jews. So no, they don't live in North America. And regardless, North America is not where Christianity came from, in spite of some less educated people's beliefs, so I still don't understand the Not From Here issue.
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    Re: why do we wear Bindi?

    Quote Originally Posted by dunyah View Post
    Thanks for this, I learned something today!

    I agree that bindis were fashionable some time ago, both in the real world and in the tribal belly dance circles, At that time Indian movements and music also began to appear in Tribal and Tribal Fusion belly dancing. I was never bothered by them, but I do recall attending a show back then featuring lots of different tribal groups - it was a tribal festival - and leaving feeling pretty disgusted with all the weak attempts at fusion. Good dancers, but jeez, know something more about what you are fusing. I remember thinking a lot of it was more about the fashion/costumes than about the dancing. The flamenco/tribal fusion was especially weak, as I recall. The Indian/tribal fusion wasn't much better.
    Indian elements in belly dance come and go. Back in the early 80s we used Indian saris, etc for costuming because it was affordable and available. The goal wasn't fusion, the goal was creating functional, beautiful costumes out of the materials we could get.

    Maybe that's what paved the way for many other Indian elements to creep in. Dance moves like Kathak Arms (which we were doing back in the early 80s), or decorative elements like bindi, or using embroidered saris instead of assuit.
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    Re: why do we wear Bindi?

    The bindi is pretty specific to India. An Indian woman told me once, IIRC, that the simple painted dot has meaning, but the sparkly stick-on ones are just jewelry.

    I would wear them if I'm dancing some kind of fusion that includes a strong Indian influence (ie both the music and my movement vocabulary is mixed with Indian dance). A lot of Bollywood fusion is popular these days, for instance, among both Tribal and Middle Eastern bellydance styles.

    Some tribal styles are such a world-fusion blend, you often see bindis worn with North African facial tattoo marks, camel tassels, etc, and the movement vocabulary can include more Indian movement as well. I think if you're performing world fusion dance, to world fusion music, and referring to your dance as 'world fusion' rather than 'belly dance' (which Middle Easterners think belongs to them specifically) then you can blend whatever you want.

    If I saw a dancer performing straight Middle Eastern dance to straight Middle Eastern music and wearing a bindi, I wouldn't be judgemental. But I would assume she's a beginner, or not very well taught.


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    Ultimate BHUZzer steffib's Avatar
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    Re: why do we wear Bindi?

    To me, it all depends. For something clearly identified as fusion or as an artistic interpreation, it can be a beautiful accent that balances jewelry and eye make-up. If one does clearly identified Turkish or Egyptian, especially for an audience from there, a bindi is not a good idea.
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    Re: why do we wear Bindi?

    Quote Originally Posted by Zumarrad View Post
    About 12 per cent of the world's Christians. apparently, and of course that doesn't include Muslims and Jews. So no, they don't live in North America. And regardless, North America is not where Christianity came from, in spite of some less educated people's beliefs, so I still don't understand the Not From Here issue.
    I was being facetious - but to listen to our Christians, they think they're the answer to the USA's - and the world's - problems.
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    Established BHUZzer Tiziri's Avatar
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    Re: why do we wear Bindi?

    Quote Originally Posted by zorba View Post
    I was being facetious - but to listen to our Christians, they think they're the answer to the USA's - and the world's - problems.
    Not to split hairs, but neither of us who mentioned the religious issue on this post are Christians, even if we are monotheists. I don't know that Christians necessarily even have the same explicit injunction to avoid wearing symbols of other religions, even (do they? I'd expect there's disapproval of it from some corners, but I don't know if it's an explicit thing.)

    And, contrary to what the highly-lucrative Islamophobia industry proclaims, I think I can safely say that we, at least, aren't plotting a US theocracy.
    Last edited by Tiziri; 04-07-2013 at 09:19 PM.
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    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. Zumarrad's Avatar
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    Re: why do we wear Bindi?

    Well, I am a big dooley and if we do have that prohibition, I must have missed it in CCD. But superstitious use of amulet-type things is the norm for us, even if I should by rights be sporting a Miraculous Medal rather than an evil eye bead or hamsa. Which I do. And besides, people of many faiths use them as good luck charms.

    I don't like people wearing rosaries. If I happen to find out they have a Catholic background then I forgive them (and names can often be a giveaway), but I don't like it at all. It's not because it's "sacred", it's... it's a cultural thing. You don't wear them, you carry them, and they are for saying prayers on.
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    Established BHUZzer Tiziri's Avatar
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    Re: why do we wear Bindi?

    Well, the khamsa aka chamsa is also found in Mediterranean Judaica (and I imagine therefore some Christians in certain areas probably have them too), and everyone loves their evil-eye beads (even if we're enjoined to put no faith in them as protection), so I'd guess you're good to go.

    I have a rather nice Turkish khamsa on my wall with a big glass nazar hanging from it, so I've got a two-for-one deal going in this place.

    I don't like people wearing rosaries. If I happen to find out they have a Catholic background then I forgive them (and names can often be a giveaway), but I don't like it at all. It's not because it's "sacred", it's... it's a cultural thing. You don't wear them, you carry them, and they are for saying prayers on
    Makes sense to me. Isn't Madonna to blame for starting that trend back-when?
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    Re: why do we wear Bindi?

    She could be. She has the permanent hall pass though.
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    Established BHUZzer Tiziri's Avatar
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    Re: why do we wear Bindi?

    Quote Originally Posted by Zumarrad View Post
    She could be. She has the permanent hall pass though.
    But of course. Although the problem is that she is encouraging everyone else, in typical "bad influence" style.

    Of course, that's only to be expected.
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    Re: why do we wear Bindi?

    I know! God, Madonna. Think about your choices woman. Some Methodist might start wearing one.

    ACTUALLY this reminds me of how plastic rosaries started turning up in cheap accessory shops a few years ago (as did coin scarves and bindis a few years later!), and that reminds me of this hilarious Christmas card one of my BFF's students gave her. It was Chinese and it had a picture of St Bernadette at Lourdes with the apparition of Our Lady on the front. When you opened it it played "We wish you a merry Christmas". Uh, no, not QUITE. I found a fantastic Chinese plastic fan with the Crucifixion on it along with a picture of hunting Englishmen with dogs once too. I guess we look a lot like those items, sometimes.
    Last edited by Zumarrad; 04-07-2013 at 11:03 PM.
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    Re: why do we wear Bindi?

    Quote Originally Posted by Zumarrad View Post
    I know! God, Madonna. Think about your choices woman. Some Methodist might start wearing one.

    ACTUALLY this reminds me of how plastic rosaries started turning up in cheap accessory shops a few years ago (as did coin scarves and bindis a few years later!), and that reminds me of this hilarious Christmas card one of my BFF's students gave her. It was Chinese and it had a picture of St Bernadette at Lourdes with the apparition of Our Lady on the front. When you opened it it played "We wish you a merry Christmas". Uh, no, not QUITE. I found a fantastic Chinese plastic fan with the Crucifixion on it along with a picture of hunting Englishmen with dogs once too. I guess we look a lot like those items, sometimes.
    See, that's the kind of completely askew and gleeful mishmash that we can only look upon with awe. Positively masterful. If I'd gotten it, any card I ever received on any occasion thereafter would be a complete letdown.
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    Ultimate BHUZzer zorba's Avatar
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    Re: why do we wear Bindi?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tiziri View Post
    ...I think I can safely say that we, at least, aren't plotting a US theocracy.
    Nope - we have our own homegrown Theocrats.
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    Re: why do we wear Bindi?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tiziri View Post
    I don't know that Christians necessarily even have the same explicit injunction to avoid wearing symbols of other religions, even (do they? I'd expect there's disapproval of it from some corners, but I don't know if it's an explicit thing.)
    To listen to them, they invented everything good; and everything else is NIH.

    You meet the occasional sane one, but by and large...
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