Tuesday December 11, 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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Hindus In Delhi Push For A Temple On The Ruins Of a Mosque

The Supreme Court has delayed hearings into the disputed site but hardliners have vowed to lay a foundation stone next year regardless.

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Supporters of Vishwa Hindu Parishad gather during a rally in New Delhi, Dec. 9, 2018. The group gathered thousands of supporters to demand the construction of a Hindu temple on a site where a mosque was attacked, demolished in 1992. VOA

Tens of thousands of hardline Hindu protesters marched in New Delhi on Sunday, calling for a grand temple to be built on the ruins of a destroyed mosque in a flashpoint Indian city.

Trident-waving devotees clad in saffron filled a huge parade ground in the Indian capital under tight security, where speakers warned Prime Minister Narendra Modi they would not let up until the temple was sanctioned.

Some of Modi’s supporters feel the Hindu nationalist leader has not done enough to raise a shrine at a site in Ayodhya, a city believed by many to be the birthplace of the deity Ram.

The site was home to a medieval mosque for 460 years until Hindu zealots tore it down in 1992, kicking off riots across India that left thousands dead, most of them Muslims.

Its future has been tied up in courts for decades but some hardliners want Modi, who is seeking reelection in 2019, to push parliament to guarantee the temple by law.

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“The gathering here is telling you that Hindus won’t sit back until the temple is built, and our wishes are respected,” said Champat Rai, the leader of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) group that organized the protest.

Demonstrators chanting “Praise be to Ram” packed the Ramlila Maidan, a vast ground capable of holding more than 50,000 people, and filled the surrounding streets.

Some carried maces and tridents — weapons traditionally wielded by Hindu gods — and traveled great distances by train and bus to reach the rally.

“We have come here to protect our religion and Hindu pride. We want a temple for our Lord Ram,” Hitesh Bharadwaj, a teacher from Delhi’s satellite city Noida, told AFP.

The hardline VHP has applied pressure on Modi in recent weeks, staging a huge show of force in Ayodhya itself last month.

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A close ally of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the group is spearheading a push to raise the Ram temple, and is calling for more protests as the premier prepares to go to the polls by May.

The BJP was on the margins until the 1980s when its top leaders, including Modi, backed a growing movement for the construction of the Ram temple.

Its advocates want parliament to introduce a law bypassing legal hurdles blocking the temple before Modi’s term ends.

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The Supreme Court has delayed hearings into the disputed site but hardliners have vowed to lay a foundation stone next year regardless.

“We don’t care about the courts. A grand temple will be constructed in 2019,” Sushil Chawdhary, a VHP leader, told AFP. (VOA)