Oh gods it’s from that utterly obtuse article.
I’m not just a person of colour anon, I am a desi and this issue directly affects me, the bindi is part of my culture and I am here, very ready to defend it. And I am so, so angry.
The only valid point in that article is the bindi no longer really holds as much religious value because it’s now found in the form of fashion accessories. That’s true- a lot of desis do wear bindis as a more fashionable item now. They’re found in different colours and shapes and materials to complement your outfit. BUT we also wear different kinds of bindis and marks on our foreheads when we go to places of worship ie temples. Those marks have an incredible amount of religious significance, even if the jewelled fashionable ones do not. And to be honest, I don’t know who the heck filled out that survey she quoted because I certainly grew up with at least some knowledge of the bindi’s significance as a representation of the spiritual third eye. It’s also indicative of marriage status, incidentally.
Anyway, if the bindi was just seen as some kind of fashion accessory now, you’d see us desi girls walking around wearing bindis with a pair of shorts and a t-shirt. Yes, you might see that on the odd occasion at home, but on the most part we wear bindis with our own cultural clothing and therefore it is still intrinsically linked to our culture.
So even if the bindi had zero religious significance, it still has cultural significance and may I remind everyone at this point that the offence is called cultural appropriation. Not religious appropriation.
Yes, the bindi has been transformed into a fashion accessory even in the motherland of India itself. Of course I know that, I come from India. That does not change the fact that me wearing a bindi is still less socially acceptable than some white hipster chick wearing a bindi. That does not change the fact I could be called a dothead and have eggs thrown at me for walking down a street wearing a bindi whereas a white girl would just be lauded as “cool”. That doesn’t change the fact that when I wear a bindi, it’s a sign of my failure to assimilate and when some white girl wears a bindi, it’s a symbol of her awesome hippy powers of appreciation.
I hear there is a “dotbuster” gang in New Jersey. Do you think they target white girls wearing bindis?
I’m sure that all desi people have different ideas about bindis and cultural appropriation. But one thing I’m sure we can all agree on, is that it’s an immense sign of white privilege to be able to wear a cultural symbol from a previously colonised area when you’re the same people who demonise desis for proudly wearing their own culture.
Maybe that author thinks that hipster girls at Coachella really do understand the full weight of our culture. Maybe she really thinks that those girls understand what they’re doing and that they treat different cultures with respect. Whatever she’s thinking, I can’t profess to understand it.
Maybe that author has never had their mother stop them from wearing their cultural clothing, because she’s afraid you’ll get attacked or harassed on the street. But I have. So forgive me for my rage. Forgive me for wanting to rip that bindi right off any non desi’s forehead. Forgive me for wanting to be possessive of my own culture, because I’ve been kept away from it for too long.
Bindis are mine, and when we’re all equal and I’m not demonised for being who I am, then maybe I’ll start being willing to share.
I really don’t understand the point of this “question.” Okay, so anon found an Indian person who doesn’t think it’s cultural appropriation. So… what? They had to come to your ask box why?? To me it just seems like anon wanted to “prove” that non south asians wearing bindis isn’t wrong because an Indian person said so!! You think its an “interesting and valid point”, guess what, that’s not your determination to make.
Anyways, Nev, I think you responded wonderfully and I just wanted to add my experience to this. So I’m a Christian Indian and for me, the bindi has never had religious significance. I grew up in the US, not truly understanding the uses behind it aside from a vague understanding of it relating with marriage. It wasn’t until I grew older and met Hindu Indians and old aunties who still wore them.
But, even though I didn’t learn this significance until later, it ALWAYS had a cultural significance to me. I remember getting dressed up in fine saris and finally (finally!) getting to wear a beautiful jeweled bindi. I remember looking proudly in the mirror and feeling connected to my culture. For me, the bindi was a source of pride even though I had been asked numerous times “Are you a dot indian or a feather one?”
So that’s why I loved your line that we wear it with our own cultural clothing. Because let’s face it, even though the bindi has become a fashion symbol in India, no one would EVER wear a bindi with shorts and a t-shirt. And that’s because its still, as you said, intrinsically tied to culture. That’s why I get annoyed when white girls randomly wear bindis for whatever reason - there’s still a huge cultural significance attached to them.
Look, I’ve bought saris for my friends back from India. And I’ve bought them bindis to go with it. But that’s the thing, it was meant to go along with the clothing, along with the CULTURE. Not taken out of context so someone can play dress up. Honestly, if these lame ass hispters want to wear something on their forehead then call it a gem sticker or anything else other than a bindi because calling it a bindi brings with it immense cultural weight that they have never been a part of and never will.
Thank you so much! It’s good to know I’m not alone in this.
Whether or not bindis have a religious significance, they’re still part of our culture and part of us. Those hipsters at Coachella don’t have the same experience that we do with bindis, they don’t have to feel judged by people walking by for being some weird brown girl with a dot on her head. It is, exactly what you said: playing dress up. But for us it’s so much more than that. And it’s so hard to explain in words how not ok it is for anyone other than desis to try on a bindi. (Of course there are exceptions when they’re gifted or given to be worn at a special occasion). I think it just plays into this whole stereotype of desi people being “exotic” and “other”, you know? And I’m not going to give anyone more fuel for that