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Applying vermilion on the forehead, which is seen as a symbol of marriage in Hinduism, is a practice common among the womenfolk of all the states, unlike many other practices that are undertaken differently, among the people of the same religion, within India. Applying sindur at the partition was also practised by the women in the ancient civilizations such as the Harappan civilization. Therefore, this practice is more than three thousand years old. No unmarried woman can apply vermilion in her hair partition. This is a celebrated right given solely to the married women of the Hindu society.
Applied By Hindu Goddesses As Well
The mention of this practice is found in case of Goddesses as well. Goddess Parvati used to apply sindur in her hair as a devotion to Lord Shiva. Goddess Sita applied the sindur in order to please her Swami, that is Sri Rama. The vermilion is associated with the respect to the husband, that is why when Draupadi was attacked by the Kouravas, she wiped off the vermilion in her hair, out of anger.
Composition Of Vermilion And Its Ayurvedic Properties
According to some studies, sacred items such as sandalwood, turmeric, vermilion and other such materials that were applied by the Hindus of the Vedic age, were prepared using some medicinal herbs. These herbs were used for scientific purposes. For example, the sandalwood paste that is applied on the forehead as a 'tilak' leaves a cooling and soothing effect in the mind of the bearer. This helps him remain calm. Similarly, the turmeric applied on the forehead benefits the skin of the bearer. Many a time 'malas' made of turmeric beads are also used for wearing. This is also practiced considering the medicinal benefits of turmeric, along with its spiritual reasons. Similar are the reasons behind applying the vermilion in the form of a symbol of marriage.
The colour of the vermilion may range from orange, to light red and to dark red or maroon as well. It is prepared using turmeric and lime. It consists of some proportions of mercury. As a part of 'Bhasmikaran', the practice in Ayurveda relating to the use of metals for their herbal benefits, mercury is used for its antioxidant characteristics. Through the process of Bhasmikaran, the toxicity of the element is removed and what remains is only its medicinal benefits. This mercury based 'Bhasma' is also known as Ras-sindur. It is known for its property to cure syphilis, genital disorders etc. This is added to the sacred Sindur used for applying in the hair partition by Hindu women.
Offered To The Hindu Deities
Sindur is offered to many Hindu deities during worship. It is especially offered to Shakti, Lakshmi, Ganesha, Vishnu, and Hanuman. It is believed that it becomes sacred after being offered at the feet of the deity. Its auspiciousness increases even more when it becomes a part of the enchantment of the mantas.
But wait, can you guess, why vermilion is offered to Lord Hanuman? Well, there is a story behind it. Read on.
Why Is Vermilion Offered To Lord Hanuman
We know how deep a devotee Hanuman was of Lord Rama. Once, he saw Goddess Sita applying sindur in the partition of her hair. Out of curiosity, he asked the Goddess the reason behind it. She told him that it is applied as mark of devotion and respect to one's lord. Therefore she applies it to please Lord Rama, who is her lord. Impressed by the reason, Hanuman declared that in order to please his lord, Lord Rama, he would apply this vermilion not only on his forehead but on the whole body. Such a decent and staunch devotee Hanuman was. Hence, His devotees offer him vermilion during worship.