Sunday, March 31, 2013


In Hinduism, the tilaka, tilak or tika  is a mark worn on the forehead and other parts of the body. Tilaka may be worn on a daily basis or for special religious occasions only, depending on different customs.

The tilak is a mark created by the smearing of powder or paste on the forehead

Based upon the Hindu caste system and vedic texts, there are four types of tilaka:
  • Brahman tilak - Urdhapundra - marking of two vertical lines on forehead (now it is more of a U-shaped tilak.)
  • Kshatriya tilak - Ardhachandra - half moon tilak, with a bindi or circular mark in middle of the half arc
  • Vaishya tilak - Tripundra - three arc-like horizontal lines on the forehead with a circular mark at the centre
  • Shudra tilak - Partal - large circular mark on forehead

Different Hindu traditions use different materials and shapes to make the tilaka.
  • Saivites typically use vibhuti in three horizontal lines across the forehead. A bindu of sandalwood paste with a dot of kumkum in the centre is often worn with the vibhuti (tripundra).
  • Vaishnavas apply clay from a holy river or place (such as Vrindavan or the Yamuna river) which is sometimes mixed with sandalwood paste. They apply the material in two vertical lines, which may be connected at the bottom, forming either a simple U shape or with an additional marking in the shape of a tulsi leaf. Their tilaka is called the Urdhva Pundra Tilak.
  • Ganapatya use red sandal paste (rakta candana).
  • Shaktas use kumkuma, or powdered red turmeric. They draw one vertical line or dot.
  • Honorary tilakas (Raj tilak and Vir tilak are usually applied as a single vertical red line. Raj tilak will be used while enthroning kings or inviting prominent personalities. Vir tilak is used to anoint victors or leaders after a war or a game.
  • Swaminarayan tilak is U-shaped in the middle of forehead along with the red dot in the middle of U (known as chandlo).

There are nineteen types of tilak:
  • Vijayshree - white tilak urdhwapundra with a white line in the middle,founded by Swami Balanand of Jaipur
  • Bendi tilak - white tilak urdhwapundra with a white round mark in the middle, founded by Swami Ramprasad Acharya of Badasthan Ayodhya.
  • Chaturbhuji tilak - white tilak urdhwapundra with the upper portion turned 90 degrees in the opposite direction, no shri in the middle, founded by Narayandasji of Bihar, ascetics of Swarg Dwar of Ayodhya follow it.

Other tilaks

These include 12 Sri Tilaks
  1. Sri Tilak of Rewasa Gaddi
  2. Ramcharandas Tilak
  3. Srijiwaram ka Tilak
  4. Sri Janakraj Kishori Sharan Rasik Aliji ka Tilak
  5. Sri Rupkalajee ka Tilak
  6. Rupsarasji ka Tilak
  7. Ramsakheeji ka Tilak
  8. Kamnendu Mani ka Tilak
  9. Karunsindhuji ka Tilak
  10. Swaminarayan Tilak
  11. Nimbark ka Tilak
  12. Madhwa ka Tilak

Relationship to bindi

The terms tilaka and bindi overlap somewhat, but are definitely not synonymous. Among the differences:
  • A tilaka is always applied with paste or powder, whereas a bindi may be paste, a sticker, or even jewellery.
  • A tilaka is usually applied for religious or spiritual reasons, or to honour a personage, event, or victory. A bindi can signify marriage, or be simply for decorative purposes.
  • A bindi is worn only between the eyes, whereas a tilaka can also cover the face or other parts of the body. Tilak can be applied to twelve parts of the body: head, forehead, neck, both upper-arms, both forearms, chest, both sides of the torso, stomach and shoulder.
  • Bindi is a Hindi term, whereas tilaka applies to the entire Indian subcontinent.

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