I've been reading with interest some forums about modern head-covering for religious purposes. Most of the women there did not grow up in a religion that covered the head and are now drawn to it. They express concern about feeling self-conscious as they start covering their hair, how to transition into it with friends and family who have not seen them do it before, and what exactly to wear to not offend or tread on the toes of a different religious group. Some of these women are pagans and others are Quakers and others just want to take this spiritual step.
Their concerns sounded familiar to me as I prepare to start wearing a bindi.
I've been dressing in Indian clothes for a number of years now. Not every day, but many days, I wear the pant suit originating in North India and Pakistan. I learned from an old boyfriend how to hold my head up high and be confident while looking different from those around me. I'm very comfortable in these clothes and only occasionally feel uncomfortable if there is an Indian person nearby. I wear them to my dance classes, but there it is expected. When I wear it to the mall I wonder if the Indian people I see are confused by my clothes.
The bindi is a new step. The simple, round bindi that I want to wear is pretty unmistakably Hindu. Since I am not married and there is disagreement between regions and cultures about exactly what a bindi in what color means, I will start with a round, black bindi. Red is a marriage color and many people, Indian and non-Indian alike, associate the round, red bindi as a sign of marriage, although I have seen many young girls and women my age who are not married wearing it.
For me the bindi is a spiritual sign, like the head covering. It is an outward sign of my religion and it is a reminder to myself throughout the day to stay focused on the spiritual.
It is also supposed to focus the third-eye energies. I don't know too much about that.
It's going to take a lot of confidence and a bold spirit to start wearing it daily.
But here's why it's worth it. Have you ever had the experience of being at a class or an airport, or the grocery store, and seeing a woman or girl wearing religious clothing (a head covering or a bindi or some other marking) and thought how beautiful it was. You wished you could be that brave and that sure of your spirituality. You think this girl is lucky because she probably grew up in the culture and has the support of a community when she goes home. But maybe she doesn't. I wanted to stop wishing to be that girl and start living that life. To live my life authentically, drawn by what feels right in my heart.
I don't know if that's a common experience, but I know the women in the head-covering group have felt it and so have I.
I'll be interested to see what kind of reactions I get when I start this. I will probably start slowly, doing it at family things or at class and not at work until later. I'll let you know how it goes.
ON ANOTHER MATTER, Holi is this coming weekend. Sadly, I don't think I'll be able to do any of the events for it. Holi is the most fun of the Hindu holidays and I've participated in events for it for the last two years. It involves running around and throwing colored powder at people. It's very messy. But with the snow still heavy on the ground here, I don't think that will be happening.
I came so close to making it to that temple for the Mahashivratri celebration earlier in the month too, but record snow falls closed everything in the state for a week. The temple will be having another one in mid March, so I'm determined I'll go to that one.