Ok, so I grew up wearing the red dot on my forehead. It was something I wore ever since I was born. Until perhaps I was three it was a black dot, made of kajal that amma positioned on my forehead. When I started school, it was red mostly, but while I was at NSM Public School, Vijayawada where the Saturday uniform was white, amma would pound the white kernel of the ‘nalu mani poovu’ or ‘Mirabilis jalapa’ to apply a white bindi on my forehead.
Sundays would make the forehead a busy place with chandan or sandal wood lining plus the usual bindi competing for space on my rather spacious forehead.
At the temple though, we would all fight to get the cream sandal wood paste from the plantain leaf, plus the red sandal wood paste which while at college, I thought looked better on me!
Now that was at the famed Vadakkanthara Devi Temple in Palakkad, which amma again insisted that we visit daily. So we did, myself and my brother, along with father on a daily basis. My attraction being the red sandalwood paste which I loved. I did I guess take some pride in being the typical village belle, perhaps inspired by the movie glam dolls of the time.
In those years until perhaps the late 1990s the bindi I wore was of liquid material, with which you could paint a circle or draw something fancy as some of my truly ingenuous friends did, drawing elaborate patterns on their beautiful foreheads. Some time later the plastic, ‘stick on bindis’ hit the market and soon, we were all sporting these colourful sticker bindis on our foreheads.
The bindi or the dot on my forehead did get bigger over the years when I thought that a bigger bindi gave me an air of authority, and some times to add to the general air of sternness that I wanted to reflect, I even tied up my hair in a neat bun.
All in my effort to impose discipline in the classroom and stand up to the team as the leader, or so I thought!!!
The past year since I started reading more and more on environment I have been unable to put on the sticker bindis which otherwise I would stock up for various occasions in vibrant colours.
The reason being that these are non recyclable. Imagine the numerous bindis that lay piled up invisible to our eyes or oblivious to our notice.
Imagine what it must do to the plants and animals, to earth in general?
The thought itself was a shocker to me that I went around almost for 5-6 months without the sticker bindi trying to figure out if the old paste or liquid bindis were still available.
I did find some, but having got used to the stick and throw business, I found it difficult to use them. But then today I chanced upon in a shop the dear old multi colour liquid bindi in a new rectangular box and my joy was irrepressible. Imagine the joy of being able to continue with a practice of childhood but not having to feel guilty about it.
I wish the times of Kalidasa’s Shakunthalam where the girls made all possible hues to adorn themselves from the various flowers, fruits and leaves found in the famed Kanva Ashram returned. Till then, perhaps this is the way out!!!
It really is high time that all of us to took a moment or two to introspect the impact of our actions on the planet, because we know for sure today that our carelessness has cost us much.
We can all be better conscious customers who evaluate our decisions on a scale of environmental impact, whether it is while buying a bindi, carrying a shopping bag, practicing minimalism, choosing to recycle, or to compost, or while making a conscious choice of residing in an apartment which recycles its waste , while eating out or in or well anything and everything.
Our tokenisms to nature care is not really taking us anywhere, its time we got down to some action.
PS: to bindi or not, that is the question!