How Do You Explain a Bindi to Kids?

How Do You Explain a Bindi to Kids? May 26, 2017

I’m having a dilema. You guys know I love wearing my bindi. I find it important not just for its purported spiritual benefits but also as a reminder to myself of my values and who I strive to be and as a way of reminding others of the diversity of our society. However, things have gotten more complicated for me.

I’m a member of a wonderful mom’s group. I have awesome new friends and it’s a very diverse group too. Some of the kids are as young as Garrick Ravi and others are a little older. I think the oldest ones are five and six. Those kids are starting to wonder about my bindi and I find that I’m at a loss on how to explain it.

Twice a kid has asked me why I have blood on my face.

I tell them that it’s not blood but then I don’t want to get into a religious discussion with them. I want to be respectful of what their parents are teaching them about religion. For one little boy I tried to say it was like ash Wednesday but I couldn’t tell if he knew what that was plus his mom did not seem too pleased about our conversation.

I stopped wearing it because I just don’t know how to explain it to the kids in my life in an appropriate way.

One friend reminded me that I’m still a Hindu whether I wear a bindi or not. And she’s so right. But it has been an important part of my spiritual practice for a while now and I wonder if there is a way to do both.

What would you say?

How would you explain to a five-year-old in a setting where we don’t discuss religious belief?

 

 

New to this blog? Check out these posts:

What Makes Me A Hindu?

Did I Start Out Christian?

Why Am I Called “The White Hindu”?

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TRENDING AT PATHEOS Hindu
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • One line answer: it’s a symbol of my religion/faith/way of life. Leave it at that.

  • Sanjeev Maheshwari

    In India , Hindu women show a vermilion dot on the forehead and a line on the hair parting above the dot to show that they are married and the husband is still alive.

    The sindoor on the parting in the bride’s hair is first applied by the bride groom as a part of the wedding ceremony. After that the bride puts it on her own every day after a bath, till she becomes a widow.

    Widows can continue to wear the black bindi ( dot ) but with a white sari.

    When the married woman applied the sindoor on her hair parting everyday, she remembers her husband with gratitude .

    This mark is a symbol of accountability. A carefree young girl now is a wife with responsibilities and accountability as per Hindu Dharma. She is also a daughter in law with duties.

    • Ambaa

      That might be a bit much for a six year old! lol

  • HARRY

    I don’t think you can seriously explain why you wear a bindi to a child because they lack the wisdom of the society. You can say it’s symbol of marriage in some society and people and you like wearing it because it’s your favorite thing to do.

  • Maya Resnikoff

    I’d explain the practice, rather than the meaning. When kids ask me why I wear a scarf on my head, I usually just say that many Jewish women cover their head or hair after they get married. After that, I leave it to the kid to either ask more questions or not. But it isn’t like you’re trying to convert them- I don’t think this should stop you from a powerful and traditional spiritual practice.

    I’d guess that the parents get uncomfortable not because they don’t like their kids hearing about Hinduism, but rather because they’ve been trained that it’s rude to talk about something that marks difference, and are embarrassed that their kid is doing so- so when you engage with it, they think you’re embarrassed too, or might be angry, or something, and are too deep in their own head, and their own worries about how to teach their kid how to do something that they don’t really know how to do well, that they freeze up, or freak out. It’s taken me some Serious work (and I’m not “there” yet) to even start reacting informatively and usefully when my daughter asks about skin color, or disability aids, etc. And she hasn’t started to notice that I cover my hair, but her grandmothers don’t, etc- much less other people’s religions.

    • Ambaa

      That’s a great answer! Thank you

  • M Raghavan

    Just as some people wear a cross pendant or some wear a yarmulke, we wear a bindi to show our humility before God. Men don’t wear it all the time anymore; but they should. I hope that helps.

  • space saharsa

    I cant leave one line answer for you,because you born in overseas due to that ,
    I need to explain step by step

    From last three generations in India especially Hindus are confused why they follow the customs and traditions and I am the one of the person in that batch. But after doing many years of research I realized every thing in India were carefully designed by ancestors and Rushis (scientists) very accurately and logically to protect nature for future generations.

    Most of Indians at present only knew only one layer of Indian culture, but to understand deeply, you need to understand every such layers as Scriptures, Sastra (Ancient science) ,yoga, astrology, Vedic math and never ending list, let’s come to the point

    I understood your question

    you need know seven chakars (wheels) in yoga The mainstream chakra system is based on a Hindu chakra system that
    recognizes seven distinct “wheels” or “centers” of energy that are
    perpetually in motion along the human body’s spinal column
    1.Root chakra — base of the spine — red

    2.Sacral chakra — just below the navel — orange

    3.Solar Plexus chakra — stomach area — yellow)

    4.Heart chakra — center of the chest — green)

    5.Throat chakra — base of the throat — blue)

    6.Third Eye chakra – area between the eyes — indigo

    7.Crown chakra — top of the head — violet)

    most of them wear bindi between between eye brows that’s where 6th wheel is located also called as Third Eye Chakra (In sanskrit its called : “Ajna”) its one of the crucial stage in yoga to reach there, it take decades of practice.

    Its not just women to wear Bindi, in olden days man also use to wear bindi, but nowadays men only wear some occasions.

    By wearing Bindi that you remanding to world that their destiny is to reach 6th wheel in yoga also called as Moksha (various forms of emancipation, liberation, and release). when ever I ask my mother about Bindi, she always say’s to me ” your 3rd eye is there, that is your Destination ” now I understand what is that mean.

    how to explain 6 year old kids

    first explain what is 7 wheels and their benefits in simple form
    to show where is this wheels is located (just check in ytube for wheels locations)
    and expalin 6th wheel (Third Eye chakra)

    You doing some thing extra ordinary by wearing Bindi. Directly or indirectly your sowing seeds in ever ones brain (why, what,How). look kids asking you, so you leaving an un solved question to them , when time comes seed will grow by practicing yoga or by doing research .

    sadly most of the Indians don’t know this that why they say its religious, tradition and some other stories

  • Simba

    The bindi symbolizes the third eye.It’s supposed to be a constant reminder to us–we are not small and we have a great potential which is to be achieved by rising to the level of the third eye.Both men and women wore it once.Now only women wear it to symbolize their status as -married.Ideally.the third eye merges the masculine and feminine nadis( pinhgala and ida) so it symbolizes merger of opposites and the pulse( sound OM) that emanates.On a mundane level–married woman (woman+man merger).

    However,the children can only be told about the woman’s married status.They will understand the subtle significance much later.

  • skyblue

    For what it’s worth, I actually vaguely remember being a kid wondering about this…”why did a couple kids come to school with a dot on their forehead?”. I don’t remember exactly how it was explained to me (I must have been around 6 or 7 at the time), but I’m fairly sure the answer was something simple along the lines of “because we’re Hindu”, because I remember thinking of a bindi as a “Hindu dot” as a child (obviously, I wasn’t given much more information!).

    Looking back, it was the *mystery* of it that was interesting: once a brief explanation was given, it was no longer unknown and therefore intriguing, because there was a reason for it. Even if I didn’t know anything about Hinduism, it was no longer the Mystery Of The Day.

    I’d definitely not recommend comparing it to Ash Wednesday unless you know for a fact the kid you’re talking to is Catholic, because I didn’t learn about Ash Wednesday until a later age, so at least for me that would have been confusing as you’d probably then be asked to explain Ash Wednesday. But, I’d imagine if you’re asked by an adult who hasn’t met a Hindu before, that would be a great comparison.