All the above terms Bottu / Thilakam / Bindi / Sindhoor / Sindoor / Tikli refer to the attractive mark applied on the forehead of Hindus. It is applied on a child, almost right from its birth. It is applied on guests to welcome them, it is applied to invite people to auspicious occasions and it is applied to bid farewell to guests and relatives. It is worn by every girl and woman. It is applied while performing Pooja at temples or at home. It is considered as a good omen; a mark of Mangalam - meaning happiness, prosperity, good health and good fortune. All this is followed very strictly as an auspicious tradition. Everyone follows this tradition but not everyone knows the entire significance of this practice. Hence I decided to write this article.
Bottu means a drop, similarly Bindi a derivative of the Sanskrit word Bindu also means a drop. Nudhuta Bottu or Bindi means a drop like mark applied to the forehead in a round or almond shape or just as a long line. It is a Kumkuma or Vermillion mark in red or maroon color made from a combination of plant dyes or turmeric powder, alum and lime juice. Or it is the white Vibuthi Bottu that is wood-ash from the holy havanam or fine calcium compound. It is Chandanam / Gandham Bottu if it is made from sandalwood paste. It is Thilakam Bottu if it is a paste of red color or black color made synthetically or by charring some food grains. And it is Tikli or Bindi if it is the attractive stickers available commercially in various colors and thousands of patterns. This age old tradition is followed religiously all over India. And when it comes to girls and women it is a part of their body, they enjoy putting it on all the time. It is also rightly seen as a beauty aid and an ornament. Whatever may be the dress worn, traditional, casual, ethnic or western; Bottu goes well with every fashion.
Bottu is applied at the ‘Agna Chakra’ (Command Chakra) also referred as the location of the third eye that is the region between the eyebrows. Chakras are energy centers that occur along the midline of our bodies. They are visualized as spinning wheels of light and color. Agna Chakra is one of the seven Primary Chakras which correspond to different areas of the body and aspects of the psyche. Agna Chakra is the sixth Primary Chakra and the one representing the Mind. This is the area which controls various levels of concentration and where all the experience is gathered. To retain this knowledge and energy within the body and to prevent the ill effects of external energies entering the body through this gateway a Bottu is applied here. Various religious marks like Shiva namam, Niluvu namam are also applied seeking the blessings of Gods. Bottu or Vibuthi obtained as prasadam from Temples or Pooja places is considered very auspicious; it is preserved and used every day.
And from a scientific angle a number of views are expressed on the benefits of Bottu. Kumkuma or Gandham or Vibuthi Bottu is said to stimulate the Pituitary gland that lies behind the forehead. The Pituitary gland is the master gland known as the king of the Endocrine system. It secretes hormones that stimulate other Endocrine glands and Bottu stimulates the Pituitary gland. Bottu is also said to bring about a cool, calming effect and a good memory.