There are certain substances that can gather and retain energy with ease. Some examples are Kumkum and Vibhuti. It is easy to energize them. Sandal paste is another. Many temples are filled with powerful pranic vibrations, so such things are kept there for a while so that they become energized.
Kumkum has great importance in Hinduism, both social and religious. In the ancient days, both Hindu men and women used to apply Kumkum daily. Married Hindu women wear it in the parting of their hair. It conveys the message that they are married. However, not all women follow this practice today.
How is Kumkum made?
The ingredients in Kumkum are pure turmeric and lime in the ratio of 95:5. Sometimes, a little ghee and pure camphor are also added.
Authentic and organic Kumkum is not touched by hand. There will be Mantra chanting during the entire process of preparation. During the process, the powder begins losing the smell of turmeric and acquires a strong smell that is noticeable even from a long distance.
Traditional families have secret formulas for making Kumkum, but the practice is on the wane.
Why Do People Wear Kumkum on Their Forehead?
The main reason for wearing Kumkum on the forehead is to activate and soothe the Ajna chakra (associated with the pituitary and pineal glands). This chakra's location is slightly above and between the eyebrows.
If you press the middle part of the eyebrows while applying Kumkum, it imbues them with immense energy. By applying Kumkum, one can attract spiritual vibrations present in nature quite easily.
Kumkum has the ability to open your Ajna chakra and prevent energy loss.
Health Benefits of Kumkum
As Kumkum is chiefly made of turmeric, it has earthly properties. Hence, it enables us to stay grounded and patient and reduces ego and anger.
Kumkum has a red color due to the mixing of turmeric with lime. Red, in Hinduism, is a color of divine power. It signifies the power of Goddess Durga. It also signifies the energy that lies hidden in all living beings. Thus, wearing Kumkum on the Ajna chakra can energize the life force within us.
The energy present in the Kumkum prevents the entry of negative energies into one’s body. It attracts only the positive vibrations and purifies one’s body and mental energy.
As per ancient beliefs, women who wore Kumkum had high levels of patience and stamina. This is due to its medicinal and healing properties and its soothing energies. So, married women applied Kumkum as they had to shoulder the burden of domestic and social responsibilities.
Kumkum - Its Social Significance
Kumkum is a symbol of matrimony for Indian women. A woman who wears Kumkum is viewed as a mother figure by all men except her husband.
Kumkum gives dignity to the wearer. Men who wear it are considered scholarly, and people respect them for their knowledge. Many male spiritual leaders tend to wear Kumkum on their foreheads.
Married women usually wear Kumkum on their forehead and in the parting of their hair. Sometimes, even unmarried women wear Kumkum on their forehead.
However, only married Hindu women apply Kumkum on the parting of their hair. The Kumkum on the parting of the woman’s hair is like the flow of life energy and red blood that signifies life.
On a woman’s forehead, Kumkum represents the husband’s longevity and good health. According to tradition, the husband applies Kumkum on his wife’s forehead for the first time during their marriage. After this, she applies it daily.
When her husband dies, a woman will wipe off the Kumkum on her forehead to signify that she is a widow. She never wears it again, unless she remarries. But nowadays, some widows continue to wear kumkum on the forehead, though they do not apply it on the parting of their hair.
Significance of Kumkum in Hinduism
As per Hinduism, Kumkum is a symbol of the rising sun. Adi Sankaracharya, in his book, Soundaryalahari, has described the beauty of Kumkum on a woman’s forehead in evocative terms.
In the Mahabharata, Draupadi, the wife of the Pandava brothers, erases her Kumkum to express her pain at the shocking occurrences in the Kaurava court when Dushasana humiliated her before the entire court.
Radha, the lover of Krishna, supposedly turned Kumkum into a flame-like design and applied it on her forehead.
The Lalita Sahasranamam, a hymn that describes the thousand names of Goddess Lalita Devi, mentions Kumkum in several instances. The Goddess is supposedly very fond of Kumkum due to its divine powers.
In the Ramayana, when Hanuman asked Sita about the Sindoor she wore on her hair parting, she replied that she wore it to ensure Rama’s longevity. Hanuman, being a great devotee of Rama, then began applying it all over his body, believing that it would make Rama immortal.
Applying Kumkum on the forehead is associated with victory. Hindu queens and Rajmatas would apply Kumkum on the forehead of Hindu kings before they embarked on expeditions and wars as a symbol of victory.
Sisters apply Kumkum to their brother’s forehead as a mark of divine protection before they tie a Rakhi on the day of Raksha Bandhan.
Kumkum is applied on a woman’s forehead when she is invited to a function or when she visits someone’s home.
Why is Kumkum Used in Poojas?
Kumkum is one of the main components for performing Durga Pooja. It can evoke Pranic energy and spread Chaitanya waves in an effective manner. Red Kumkum symbolizes the hidden energy in Goddess Durga. Worshipping the Goddess with Kumkum, or Kumkumarchana, is a very powerful spiritual practice and can remove one’s troubles.
In West Bengal, during the Navratri festival, women apply Kumkum to each other, worship Goddess Durga with Kumkum, and even play with Kumkum during the Durga Pooja.
When one goes to temples, the priest distributes Kumkum after the end of Archana or Pooja to the assembled devotees. The reason is that temples are filled with positive vibrations. Kumkum attracts positive energies and retains them. Hence, it is given to the devotees.
When the priest performs Pooja to a deity with Kumkum, it attracts the deity’s divine vibrations. When the devotees wear this Kumkum, it transfers the divine vibrations to them. This helps to ward off negative energies.
How to Apply Kumkum on the Forehead?
First, take a bath and wear clean clothes. Offer prayers to God and take a small pinch of Kumkum using only your middle finger and thumb. Make a dot slightly above the middle point of the eyebrows on your forehead by pressing the Kumkum powder with the middle finger.
Behind every Hindu tradition and observance, there is a hidden meaning and significance. Wearing Kumkum is one way to revitalize the flow of energy within our bodies and protect ourselves from negative energies.