Hindu Culture

The Tilak, a spot on the forehead, is not merely a beauty enhancing mark, or sign of religiousness. Hindu cultural traditions have given a significant place to Wisdom in life. The life's journey is guided by Wisdom, which will lead us through evolution of life towards salvation. If a man loses everything in his life but has his Wisdom, he can recreate everything he has lost.

In the Vedas, there are mantras which pray: "May my Wisdom be

enlightened and purified". The worship that has been revered in the Vedas is symbolised in the Tilak, the forehead mark. The seat of Wisdom is the head and since the forehead is its front part, we worship Wisdom by placing the Tilak on the forehead.

A Tilak is the 'third eye' in a human being. It is not a physical eye but a divine eye which when opened by Divine Knowledge shows the way to self-realisation. When we place a Tilak on our foreheads we are indicating that we wish to acquire this knowledge to pave our way to Moksha.

Lord Shiva destroyed 'Kamadeva' with his third eye. So may we also destroy all our desires and evil elements by striving for knowledge.

The Tilak is also the symbol of good fortune and lasting bonds of wedlock for a married woman. A married woman considers her husband as her deity and merges her life with his. For her sincerity and loyalty to her husband are her life's pledge and thus, just as the river merges in the ocean and loses its identity voluntarily, so does a married woman try to adjust and harmonise herself with the nature, thoughts and wishes of her husband. This reflects her complete faith and trust in the wisdom of her husband.

During many of our religious rites and ceremonies, the priest places a Tilak of sandalwood or red turmeric powder. This signifies the presence of the Almighty during the ceremony. Thus God is the witness during all religious ceremonies and showers benevolence on you so that we may enjoy peace, prosperity and happiness and keep away from violent and chaotic activities.

Menfolk of certain religious sects also place the Tilak on their foreheads, which suggests their acceptance of certain thoughts and ideas as a way of life.

When a person is travelling abroad, the Tilak is placed on his forehead, rice grains are applied on the Tilak, flowers are presented and then Jaggery and yoghurt are given to him as a good omen for his journey. A silent prayer of keeping the mind steadfast while in the foreign land is indicated in this tradition.

A sister placing the Tilak on her brother's forehead signifies her faith and trust in him. Thus the Tilak represents worship of Wisdom and it becomes our duty to maintain its importance in our daily lives.