A devote Hindu draws a mark on the forehead known as Tika or Tilak or Tilakam or Pottu. The wearing of a mark on the forehead is a unique feature associated with Hinduism. There are no strict common rules regarding the drawing of mark on the forehead in Hindu religion.
Basically, the wearing of Tika invokes a feeling of sacredness on the wearer and on the people with whom the wearer comes into contact. Tilak, or Tika, is also a religious symbol and they reveal the particular God worshipped by the wearer.
- Worshippers of Lord Vishnu wear a Chandan (sandalwood paste) Tilak of the shape of “U.” Vertical lines usually represent Vaishnava devotees.
- Lord Shiva worshippers apply a three horizontal line bhasma or sacred ash. Horizontal lines represent Shaiva devotees
- Worshippers of Devi or the female goddess apply a red dot of kumkum.
- A red tika is widely applied during pujas on devotees by priests.
The tilak worn by Hindu priests have more significance. It represents the particular school of thought or Sampradaya he represents. The lines and the color used by priests vary from region to region and from sect to sect.
There are also Hindu temples which have unique tika. Devotees who visit the temple are offered these unique tika long with the ‘prasad.’ Thus there are temples which offer black colored tika obtained from the burning of coconut and there are temples which offer clay or white mud.
There are also millions of Hindu devotees who apply a simple chandan mark, or bhasma mark or red mark. For them it is a divine mark and a blessing of God that they apply daily before venturing out into the world. Bhasma is applied on the entire forehead by many devotees.
Usually, the Tilak is applied on the forehead between the eyebrows. This spot is known as Aajna Chakra and is considered to be the seat of memory and thinking.
It is also said that the chandan or bhasma cools the forehead and the spot between the eyebrows, which is known to generate heat during stress and tension. It is also known to prevent energy loss.
The most famous Indian mark on the forehead is the Bindu or Bindi worn by females and it has no real religious significance and is part of makeup. The red dot applied on the top of the forehead (near the hair) is the mark of a married female.