“Wearing Bindi is an act of cultural appropriation.”
“Inspired by Marvi Sirmed, hmmm?”
“Kia tum Hindu ho gae ho?” (followed by jeering)
“Allah Mian kehte hain jo jesa bannay ki koshish karta hai, wo wesa hee ho jata hai. Momina, yeh na karo yaar.”
“Yaar ye utar do ab ya phir meri gaari main na betho, main ne muft main nai marna.”
“Bahir bhi yehe laga kar jao gee?”
“Tumhain aise hee koi maar kar chala jaye ga!”
This is the story of the time I wore a Bindi on my forehead
For one solid month, they kept telling me to take it off. Some of them were my friends, a few of them mere acquaintances, while some were just curious. Turns out they were not so bothered by the bindi itself but the thought of a Muslim girl supposedly endorsing this aspect of the Hindu culture made them uncomfortable. Why else would a random person come and kill me? Did they really think that this country has no Hindu women whatsoever who wear bindis?
Last year in December, I went on a road trip to Cholistan and a wonderful Kabir Panthi woman gave me some bindis as a token of love. I was so fascinated by this sticky red dot that throughout the rest of the trip, I kept searching for more and finally found some at a local shop in Nagar Parkar. I decided to wear it every day as a symbol of cultural respect for my amazing Cholistani host. However, the jeering, the comments and my friends calling me a “wannabee hipster” shook me back to reality, instantaneously. Unfortunately, my happiness regarding the whole bindi phenomenon was short lived.
I got so confused from all the negative comments that I frantically started searching for the origins of bindi.
I wanted to see if wearing a bindi, in actuality, is an act of religious or cultural appropriation, despite my good will. Contrary to the popular belief, it is worn by the Hindu women as a cultural symbol or mostly, as a signifier of their marital status. While the ancient Vedic texts refer to it as the gateway to spiritual enlightenment.
Oh, the beautiful people of my country, let me tell you a fun fact. Bindi is not worn by Hindus only. Jain and Kabir Panthi (people who recognize Kabir as their Prophet) women wear it with equal zeal and regularity. Therefore, at this point in time, if we go by the logic that most of my friends presented (that wearing bindi is making me lose my faith) will eating Chinese food make me Chinese?
Why does everything have to have a context? Can’t you or I do things merely for the sake of it?
We should be able to wear and do things just because they make us happy, you know. In exactly the same way, why do we have to have one particular identity? Wouldn’t our lives be much happier and untroubled if we allowed it to be a little fluid?
My identity is not one static block slotted into one fixed place. It is essentially fluid, gradually evolving along the course of life as long as the humanity remains intact. My identity comes not from being a Muslim, a Pakistani or a Punjabi but from an assured sense of belonging. That little red dot gave me exactly that. A tiny personal anchor to hold on to, a little chance to define my own self. So just for once, let me decide how I want to look, maybe?
Here’s a question I want to posit, how does a girl wearing a small red dot on her forehead risk your imaan?
Cover Image Via: dharamvigyaan.blogspot.com