Tuesday August 21, 2018

Custom or Science? The Tradition of wearing Sindoor in Hinduism

Using sindoor is not only religiously valuable but also has many scientific benefits attached to it

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Sindoor. Image source: i-survive.blogspot.com
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India is the culturally rich homeland of Hindus with rituals that retain man’s beliefs in his religion. From birth to death, it is more or less the customs that drive the very essence of Hinduism. One of the most significant practices of India is using ‘sindoor‘ or vermilion that you would most definitely find in a household. Even though sindoor is used for several religious purposes, the practice of wearing sindoor can be dated back to 5,000 years; travelling through the Harappan civilisation to the modern times.

Source: Pinterest
Sindoor applied on a woman during the marriage. Image Source: Pinterest

The excavation of female figurines at Baluchistan prove the usage of sindoor during the Harappan civilisation. Also, legend has it that Radha turned this vermilion into the design of a flame on her forehead. Draupadi, the wife of the Pandavas, wiped her sindoor in disgust after her dignity was questioned. The use of sindoor is mentioned in Soundarya Lahharis, the Puranas and other legends.

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In Hinduism, the shades of red are usually denoted as the colours of goddesses and that of a married Indian woman. Legend has it, that Goddess Parvati grants ‘akhand saubhagya’ to women who wears sindoor on their forehead.

The sindoor is a red/saffron colour vermillion that is not only religiously valuable but also has many scientific benefits attached to it. While women wear mangalsutra and sindoor, married men wear ‘janeu‘.

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Lord Hanuman. Image Source: Pinterest

The sindoor holds immense values in all branches of Hinduism. It must be noted that idols of Lord Hanuman in most temples are made of or are covered with orange sindoor. It is believed that Lord Hanuman had covered himself in sindoor for the well-being of Lord Ram. Besides that, the Bengali community celebrates ‘Sindoor Khela’ where Bengali married women offer sindoor to Goddess Durga and fellow ladies wishing each other a prosperous married life.

Sindoor Khela in Bengali Hindu women. Image source: www.nagpurtoday.in
Sindoor Khela in Bengali Hindu women during Durga Puja. Image source: www.nagpurtoday.in

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While this tradition of sindoor has been going on since time immemorial, it must be noted that increasing commodification has led to cosmetic sindoor that contains red lead (Pb304) and other toxins. Substandard oil and oxidised metals are often used by even branded companies to acquire texture or make liquid sindoor. This not only leads to hair loss but also edima and erythema.

Natural sindoor also has its own scientific and physiological benefits. It contains a mixture of turmeric, lime and mercury. It is put on the partition of the hair on one’s forehead, right at the pituitary glands. The mercury not only soothes one’s mind but the pituitary glands also awaken the sexual desires, for all our emotions are centred up at this gland. This also stands as a justification as to why the widows have been kept away from using sindoor.

But as India is trying to become a westernised nation, the custom of sindoor is slowly being forgotten by the Indian youth. It is and will remain throughout as a debatable subject whether the issue of gender equality should be dragged into this tradition.

– by Chetna Karnani of NewsGram. Twitter: @karnani_chetna

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    The tradition of wearing Sindoor has been carried since years

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A Different Take on Masculinity: Mard Ko Dard Nahin Hota

Abhimanyu and Radhika are childhood friends. She has seen him grow from pain to pain without feeling it.

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From The Shooting of the Movies. Flickr

Once Salman Khans heroine in “Maine Pyar Kiya”, Bhagyashree’s son Abhimanyu is now out to make his quirky debut as a boy-man who cant feel any physical pain.

The trailer of his first film “Mard Ko Dard Nahin Hota” has him bleeding through his head and nose as he walks down the street talking to us about the rare congenital disease that precludes pain.

Vasan Bala
A poster of the film ‘Raman Raghav’, directed by Anurag Kashyap. Wikimedia

The idea of not feeling any physical pain could serve as a decent metaphor for the desensitised times that we live in. But then I am not sure Vasan Bala, who has served as an assistant on dark films like “The Lunchbox” and “Raman Raghav”, wants us to assess his film as anything but what it is:a film about a guy who can’t feel any pain.

The protagonist’s ambition, perhaps echoing the modest aspirations of the film’s debutant hero, are severely restricted. So I suspect, is the appeal of this whimsical piece of cinema which also stars the very watchable Radhika Madan.

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Abhimanyu and Radhika are childhood friends. She has seen him grow from pain to pain without feeling it. We see the defiant repudiation of pain in the film. But we aren’t really sure if the film would be a painless exercise. It seems to stretch one idea beyond endurance.( IANS)