Sindoor or vermilion holds lot of importance in Indian society. Although in the northern part of India only married women tend to wear Sindoor, in South India especially Karnataka unmarried women also apply Sindoor on their forehead and it is usually treated as a form of prasaad of God.
But, Sindoor is the tradition of application of sindoor in the parting of hair by married Hindu women is considered extremely auspicious and is being carried on since centuries. It is said that putting sindoor is not just a ritual, but signifies a long life for the husband.
It is suggested that the red colour symbolises power. According to the Hindu mythology, a woman has to adorn sindoor till the time her husband is alive. Even Goddess Parvati (wife of Lord Shiva) and Sita (wife of Lord Rama), use to put sindoor on their hair partition. It is believed that Goddess Parvati not only protects the husbands of all the married women who put sindoor, but also wards off any lurking evil.
Femsale figurines of Harappa period found during the archeological excavation in Mehrgarh (Baluchistan) show that they used sindoor in hair partition. According to Mahabharata, Draupadi, the wife of Pandavas wiped off her sindoor disgustingly, after Dushasan tried to strip her saree in the Hastinapur court.
As per a legend, Radha, the lover of Lord Krishna turned kumkum sindoor into a flame-like design on her forehead. Sindoor has also been mentioned in several Puranas, Lalitha Sahasranama and Adi Shankaracharya ‘s Soundarya Lahari. Sindoor is also offered to Lord Ganesha. Sindoor is used for worshiping Hindu goddesses like Shakti and Lakshmi. Sindoor is applied by Saivites, Vaisnavs and Swaminarayan on their forehead.
Nowadays, people who make sindoor use vermillion, which is basically a red-orange tint. Prior to this however, it was made using more natural resources like turmeric, alum or lime. The chemicals used these days which include red lead can be toxic and one must handle the powder with extreme care and caution.
The colour red also signifies Shakti or strength also it is commonly believed that during the Aryan times, Aryan groom would apply his blood on the bride, thus signifying their wedlock. However, during the present age, sindoor is more of a representative of a decorative role. The colour red expresses religious and auspicious significance in Indian society. Red paste or tilak is applied on the forehead during festivals, or sindoor is applied by married women.
There are scientific benefits of applying sindoor it reduces anxiety and stress. It increases the power of concentration. The area where sindoor is applied is known as the pituitary gland, which is the centre of all feelings. The region has mesmerizing factors which induces the woman towards her husband. However, during festivals or weddings, the elders in the family apply tilak or red paste at the centre of their forehead. Followers of Vishnu known as the Vaishnavites wear tilak on their forehead which is white in colour made of sandalwood paste, ashes and turmeric.
From biological to spiritual Sindoor affects every aspect of a woman