(I thank Padma ,for giving me more information related to this topic. )
The Tilak invokes a feeling of sanctity in the wearer and others.It is recognized as a religious mark. Its form and colour vary according to one's caste, religious sect or the form of the Lord worshipped. Religious marks are worn by men and women with ashes, clay, kumkum (Powdered red turmeric) or sandalwood powder. It is a visible sign of a person as belonging to Hindu culture.
In earlier times, The brahmin applied a white chandan mark signifying purity. The kshatriya applied a red kumkum mark.The vaishya wore a yellow kesar or turmeric mark.The sudra applied a black bhasma, kasturi or charcoal mark.Vishnu worshippers apply a chandan tilak of the shape of "U," Shiva worshippers a tripundra of bhasma, Devi worshippers a red dot of kumkum.
- Saivites typically use ashes ( called Vibhuti) and draw their tilaks as three horizontal lines ( tripundra). Vibhuti used by Saivites, means glory and it is also called bhasma (that by which our sins are destroyed and the Lord is remembered ). The holy ash is worn with adoration and respect. This is also known as “ thiru neeru” in Tamil. The holy Ash has lots of spiritual meaning. Vibhuti is so named because it endows one wih prosperity.Ash is the substance that results when things are completely burnt off. In natural terms it is a final state. It is also known as Bhasma because it burns away all sins. This ash is the ultimate reality and cannot be changed any more. By applying this as a symbol of Divinity, we prepare ourselves to give up all desires, burn our attachments and temptations and make ourselves pure, holy and sacred, for liberation.
- Vaishnavites apply clay (preferably from holy rivers) or sandalwood paste. They apply the material in two vertical lines, which may be connected at the bottom, forming either a simple U shape or a form said to be like a tulasi leaf. Their Tilak is called the urdhva-pundra. Vaishnavites use clay for their Srichurnam. This is also called “thirumann” ( mann is the tamil word for clay).This is known as Srichurnam and wearing this is as an important part of the daily rites of a Sri Vaishnavite. The Tilak is applied to twelve parts of the body, reciting the twelve names of the Lord. Vedas say, by wearing this mark, he becomes fortunate, gets released of all the worldly bondages and attains liberation.
- In Sri Vaishnava sampradaya the tilak is made out of the white mud found in anthills. The scriptures tell us that the mud from the base of a Tulasi plant and the white mud from within the anthill are both pure and best for making tilak. The Sri Vaishnavas will draw two lines representing the feet of Sri Narayana, and in the middle they will put a red line to represent Lakshmi Devi. Because the Sri Vaishnava sampradaya begins with Sri Lakshmi Devi, and they approach Narayana only through Lakshmi, their tilak reflects this process of surrender. Using mud also makes us reflect that we come from clay and go back to clay.
The Tilaks of each sampradaya actually depict the siddhanta of the sampradaya.The Tilak is also believed to have medicinal and protective functions. The pastes applied are considered to give cooling effect to the body.The Tilak is also considered to bestow spiritual comfort and protection against demons, bad luck, and other evil forces.The tilak cover the spot between the eyebrows, which is the seat of memory and thinking. It is known as the Aajna Chakra in the language of Yoga and gives concentration of spiritual energy on the forehead between the eyebrows.The tilak is applied with the prayer -
"May I remember the Lord. May this pious feeling pervade all my activities. May I be righteous in my deeds."
Even when we temporarily forget this prayerful attitude the mark on another reminds us of our resolve. The tilak is thus a blessing of the Lord and a protection against wrong tendencies and forces. The scriptures say that a Hindu without tilak is worthy of condemnation and is compared to intellect without clarity
Traditionally Bindi is red in colour.'Bindi' is derived from the Sanskrit word 'bindu' or a drop, and suggests the mystic third eye of a person.It is applied as an ornamental mark on the forehead between the two eyebrows — a spot considered a major nerve point in human body since ancient times. The bindi is believed to prevent the loss of "energy", as well as bringing spiritual protection against demons or bad luck.The red 'kumkum' between the eyebrows is said to retain energy in the human body and control the various levels of concentration. It is also the central point of the base of the creation itself — symbolising auspiciousness and good fortune.
The Kumkum which ladies keep on the forehead , is to symbolize that they are married. Normally guys walk straight and ladies would walk with head down.By seeing the Kumkum on the forehead, one can understand that the girl is married.. In early days, there had been a custom that married guys would have a ring in their second foot finger, as metti seeing that the girl would identify that he is married...
We are told that in ancient times, in Aryan society, a groom used to apply his blood on-his bride's forehead as a recognition of wedlock. The existing practice among Indian women of applying a round shaped red Tilaka called Bindiya or Kumkum could be a survival of this idea.No one knows exactly when the tradition of putting a bindi started,