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Why do Hindus put Vermilion on Forehead?

Posted By ServDharm


Posted on October 25 2021

It is a common practice for Hindus to apply vermillion on their foreheads. The vermillion is a red coloured powder that can be put by both men and women. Hindus associate vermillion as a symbol of feminine energy. The sixth chakra or the third eye chakra of an individual is positioned between his/her eyebrows on the forehead. This is the exact spot where a person usually opts to put vermillion.

There are many reasons why applying vermilion on the forehead has become a customary practice. Vermillion is essentially a turmeric-based powder that is believed to have the ability to absorb bad unwanted water in the forehead and leave behind only pure and clean water. Thus, when a person puts vermillion on his/her forehead, it helps in elevating his/her concentration levels.

Another significance of applying vermillion over the third eye chakra is that it serves as a channel between the mental and spiritual well being of the person. In other words, the vermillion helps an individual strike a perfect balance in his/her life.

Vermillion is also believed to have cooling properties. As a result, it can help in alleviating stress and anxiety in a person. It helps to keep his/her body and mind relaxed.

The way or style in which Hindus put vermillion on their foreheads varies from one sect to another. However, all of them do not underestimate the power of vermillion. Let us now look at some interesting ways how followers of some major Hindu sects apply vermillion.

  • Shaivites – This sect practises Shaivism and considers Lord Shiva as the supreme power. They apply three horizontal lines in white on the forehead and put the vermillion as a small dot in the centre on the third eye chakra. The horizontal lines in white symbolise Lord Shiva while the red dot represents Maa Parvati.
  • Vaishnavites – This sect practises Vaishnavism and represents Lord Vishnu as their key deity. They apply two vertical lines of white clay that join at the bottom in a U shape. The vermillion is applied in the centre as a third vertical line and intersects the U at the sixth chakra. The white clay lines signify the footprints of Lord Vishnu while the red line epitomises his consort, Goddess Lakshmi.
  • Shakthas – This sect believes in worshipping a female deity termed as Shakti as their main supreme power. This deity is portrayed in a gentle form as Parvati or in an angry form as Durga. The vermillion is applied as a dot in the centre of the forehead slightly above the third eye chakra. They also smear turmeric around the red dot.
  • Swaminarayan – This is a minority sect that follows the principles laid by Yogi Swaminarayan, also known as Sahajanand Swami. They apply a yellow-coloured U shaped tilak made of sandalwood and put the vermillion in the centre of the U in the middle of the forehead. The belief is that the tilak symbol symbolises the lotus feet of the Paramatma or the lord whereas the vermillion signifies the devotee or bhakta.

The style of applying the vermillion on the forehead also varies across the country. For example, in Maharashtra, it is common to see vermillion applied in the form of a crescent-shaped moon on the forehead.

Irrespective of the tradition followed and the style in which the vermillion is applied, Hindus are of the firm belief that it is a reminder to the person that he/she should surrender himself/herself completely to God and find ultimate protection at the feet of the deity.

According to Hindu scriptures, vermillion is said to be very revered and represents a female deity. Therefore, most Hindus apply it only after a bath. While it can be worn on any day of the week, women must refrain from doing so on the days they have their monthly cycle. Although vermillion is available these days in liquid and gel forms apart from the standard powder form, it is believed that powdered vermillion is the most powerful and has the maximum effect.


Written by Deepthi K



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