Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Progress on our work in India

From: The Hunger Project-India Team

In India, the country with the largest number of hungry people in the world – the key change agents for ending poverty, hunger and injustice are the one million women elected to India’s panchayats, or village councils.

Operating a VCD machine.

The Hunger Project in India is proud to report the successes of the 30,000 women leaders who are paving the way to a more holistic approach to local democracy in partnership with THP and more than 80 nongovernmental (NGO) partners. Their effective and insightful leadership is influencing the lives of more than 12 million women, men and children in rural India.

Banwari Devi uses a cell phone for the first time.

To break the cycle of malnutrition in India, The Hunger Project’s four-pronged strategy includes:

(1) The Women’s Leadership Workshop: A 3-day training – the centerpiece of our national strategy to strengthen the leadership of women elected to Panchayats. In the last 5 years, experience has shown that when women take on the mantle of leadership they take on issues which affect them, their families and their communities on a daily basis – issues of food security, water, education, health and income.

Participants in the Women's Leadership Workshop in Karnataka State along with government officials.

(2) Alliance building for advocacy and support: The Hunger Project continues to work in partnership with local community-based NGOs whose trainers deliver the workshop and provide support to the elected women representatives in achieving their goals. Today, we have strong partnerships with 96 such NGOs.

Savitri, a woman at Aagaz Academy, THP's Center for Women's Leadership, learns to ride a bicycle!

Tania speaks to a government official for the first time.

(3) Mobilizing the media: Since 2001, The Hunger Project has awarded the Sarojini Naidu Prize for Best Reporting on Women in Panchayati Raj to those deserving journalists, women and men, who are stepping up to the plate to stand in partnership with the rural women leaders as they fight their battle for freedom from subjugation, marginalization and disempowerment.

Maya from Uttaranchal (left) and Marudhambal from Tamil Nadu at the Sarojini Naidu Prize event in India

Sarbati Devi from Rajasthan addressed the biggest problem that ailed her village--water.

(4) National and state level advocacy: In December 2004, the national Ministry of Panchayati Raj requested The Hunger Project to organize a round-table meeting of all state ministers on capacity building. To date, we have disseminated 150 resolutions passed by the Ministry to policy makers, bureaucrats, academia, NGOs and civil society in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar and Tamil Nadu.

In the 13 states where The Hunger Project works, elected women representatives have begun to change the development agenda, and create a new way of life for their families, villages and communities. The women include every woman, man and child who are counting on their leadership, and are becoming a powerful voice of the marginalized, the poor and the tribal communities. The women continue to envision a Panchayat which is accountable to the people, and which operates with honesty and integrity.

Three Panchayat Presidents surrounded by THP Staff Trainers.

Nineteen elected women representatives with THP investors and the team from Bangladesh.

US investor Sheree
Stomberg interacts with Aradhana from Orissa.

Nilkamal, Panchayat President, with team from Orissa.


india not thrilled with platinum jewelry

Women from India are well-known for their beautiful silk clothing and their fine jewelry, especially gold. Now platinum is being pushed by jewelers in this country, but so far, the culture isn't buying, literally:
" Platinum jewellry in India was launched five years ago. Demand is yet to pick up as consumers' response has been lukewarm. Platinum Guild International - a body responsible for promoting platinum jewellry in India - is targeting platinum consumption to grow up to 5 tonne in the next four-five years. Consumers though are a little hesitant because of rising prices and depreciation in quantity over the years."


Sunday, January 28, 2007

Rangoli: The Painted Prayers of India

Rangoli (ran-goal-i, also known as Alpana, Kolam and by other names) is a traditional art of decorating courtyards and walls of Indian houses, places of worship and sometimes eating places as well. The powder of white stone, lime, rice flour and other cheap paste is used to draw intricate and ritual designs. Each state of India has its own way of paintingRangoli.

One characteristic of Rangoli is that it is painted by commoners. On some special occasions it is painted in every home, with or without formal training in Rangoli art. The art is typically transferred from generation to generation and from friend to friend. Popular magazines publish new designs of Rangoli every week and on special occasions there are Rangoli contests.

Women use their bare fingers or a brush to create various designs from sandstone powder or grain-flour. Sometimes colors and petals are used in addition to flour paste. Some women are so skilled with their fingers that they can create figures of deities, chariots, temples, etc., on the finely layered floor. Petals of various flowers, such as oleanders, cosmos, zenia, chrysanthemums, and green leaves provide the artist the ability to work out various patterns and colors. In the evenings of festive occasions, when oil lamps are lit, and the atmosphere is cool and pleasant, such floral designs create the atmosphere of a well-planned divine garden. This Rangoli garden surrounds the sacred spot where pooja (prayer) is performed or a child is seated for his or her birthday, naming ceremony or thread ceremony. Newly-weds also receive guests in such decorated surroundings when the wedding celebrations are ongoing.

Most of the Rangoli designs are motifs of plants, flowers, leaves such as coconut, lotus, mango, and ashwath (peepal leaf), the animals such as cows, elephants, and horses, and the birds like eagles and swans. There are geometrical designs as well. When drawn with fingers, these acquire different dimensions on their own.

Girls and wives compete with each other to draw a new design every time, even when there are no prizes to be given. They believe that the gods are fond of cleanliness and things of beauty, and this is one household art meant for propitiating deities.


indian marriage

India is a diverse, multi-cultural country with people of various religions and sects living together in harmony and peace. Each religion has its own set of rites and rituals, traditions and multitudes of customs inherited from ancestors. These are further mingled with the flavor of each state of India.
Arranged marriages have been part of the Indian culture for centuries. Although some people from western culture probably view this tradition with amusement, generation after generation, this custom has been embraced by millions of Indians living in India and abroad.

For every Hindu, Christian, Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist or Parsi, marriage is a sacred event of ones life. For the bride and the groom this is their first step into the Grihastha Ashram (Householder stage of life). Now they are ready to extend their family and pass on the values and traditions they have gained from their parents. For an Indian, marriage is a life long commitment between the husband and wife, who are considered one soul in two bodies.

Marriage is an important social event for the family. It is considered as a perfect occasion to bring together relatives and dissolve any differences that may exist. It is not only a union of two souls and two individuals but also of two families and in some cases union of two villages. Indian marriages are celebrated on a grand scale. The ceremonies and rituals for a marriage can in some communities start months before the actual marriage. It is a way to bring the families of the boy and the girl together and in the process get to know each other.
The rituals embodied in the Marriage ceremony can vary with customs of different regions of India yet some underlying similarities unifies them all. It is interesting to note the similarities in some of the rituals across the religions. In almost all religions, the groom comes to the girls house for the marriage in a ‘Baarat’. In Hindus, the father performs the ‘Kanyadan’ which means he gives his daughter away to the groom in holy matrimony. In Christians, the father accompanies his daughter down the aisle towards the groom.In Muslims, during the ‘Rukhasat’ the father gives the hand of his daughter in the groom’s hand with the request of protecting her for life. Exchanging garlands and rings are other rituals that signify the mutual acceptance of the bride and groom. Flowers in the form of garlands or bouquets and blessings in the form of showering rice are part of the rituals found mostly across all religions. Another element that is common in all Indian marriages is the wedding vows or the promises the brideand groom make to each other. The vows are taken in the presence of the holy priest and it is witnessed by all the relatives and friends.
Commonalities and differences apart, the marriage ceremony which is the oldest custom of mankind is celebrated with pomp, grandeur and a great deal of festivities in India.


Origins of Holi Festival in india

In days of yore, there were communities of cannibals in India. They caused much havoc. They threatened the lives of many innocent people. One of them was Holika or Putana. She took immense delight in devouring children. Sri Krishna destroyed her and thus saved the little children. Even today, the effigy or figure of Holika is burnt in the fire. In South India, the clay figure of Cupid is burnt. This is the origin of the great festival of Holi.

It begins about ten days before the full moon of the month Phalgun (February-March), but is usually only observed for the last three or four days, terminating with the full moon. This is the spring festival of the Hindus. In the spring season all the trees are filled with sweet-smelling flowers. They all proclaim the glory and everlasting beauty of God. They inspire you with hope, joy and a new life, and stir you on to find out the creator and the Indweller, who is hiding Himself in these forms.

Holi is known by the name of Kamadahana in South India, the day on which Cupid was burnt by Lord Siva.

Another legend has it that once upon a time an old woman’s grandchild was to be sacrificed to a female demon named Holika. A Sadhu advised that abuse and foul language would subdue Holika. The old woman collected many children and made them abuse Holika in foul language. The demon fell dead on the ground. The children then made a bonfire of her remains.

Connected to this legend of the demon Holika is Bhakta Prahlad’s devotion to Lord Narayana, and his subsequent escape from death at the hands of Holika. Prahlad’s father, Hiranyakashipu, punished him in a variety of ways to change his devotional mind and make him worldly-minded. He failed in his attempts. At last he ordered his sister, Holika, who had a boon to remain unburnt even in fire, to take Prahlad on her lap and enter into the blazing flames. Holika did so. She vanished, but Prahlad remained untouched and laughing. He was not affected by the fire on account of the Grace of Lord Narayana.

This same scene is enacted every year to remind people that those who love God shall be saved, and they that torture the devotee of God shall be reduced to ashes. When Holika was burnt, people abused her and sang the glories of the Lord and of His great devotee, Prahlad. In imitation of that, people even today use abusive language, but unfortunately forget to sing the praises of the Lord and His devotee!

In North India, people play joyfully with coloured water. The uncle sprinkles coloured water on his nephew. The niece applies coloured powder on her aunt’s face. Brothers and sisters and cousins play with one another.

Huge bundles of wood are gathered and burnt at night, and everywhere one hears shouts of “Holi-ho! Holi-ho!” People stand in the streets and sprinkle coloured water on any man who passes by, be he a rich man or an officer. There is no restriction on this day. It is like the April Fool’s Day of the Europeans. People compose and sing special Holi songs.

On the festival day, people clean their homes, remove all dirty articles from around the house and burn them. Disease-breeding bacteria are thereby destroyed. The sanitary condition of the locality is improved. During the festival, boys dance about in the streets. People play practical jokes with passers-by. A bonfire is lit towards the conclusion of the festival. Games representing the frolics of the young Krishna take place joyously around a fire.

On the last day of Holi, people take a little fire from this bonfire to their homes. They believe that their homes will be rendered pure, and their bodies free from disease.

Nowadays, people are found indulging in all sorts of vices in the name of the Holi festival. Some drink intoxicating liquor like toddy and fall unconscious on the roads. They indulge in obscene speech as a result of drinking. They lose respect for their elders and masters. They waste their money in drink and dice-play. These evils should be totally eradicated.

Festivals like Holi have their own spiritual value. Apart from the various amusements, they create faith in God if properly observed. Hindu festivals always have a spiritual significance. They wean man away from sensual pleasures and take him gradually to the spiritual path and divine communion. People perform havan and offer the new grains that are harvested to the gods before using them.

There should be worship of God, religious gatherings and Kirtan of the Lord’s Names on such occasions, not merely the sprinkling of coloured water and lighting of bonfires. These functions are to be considered most sacred and spent in devotional prayers, visiting holy places, bathing in sacred waters, and Satsang with great souls. Abundant charity should be done to the poor. Then only can Holi be said to have been properly celebrated. The devotees of the Lord should remember the delightful pastimes of the Lord on such happy occasions.

All great Hindu festivals have religious, social and hygienic elements in them. Holi is no exception. Every season has a festival of its own. Holi is the great spring festival of India. Being an agricultural country, India’s two big festivals come during the harvest time when the barns and granaries of our farmers are full and they have reason to enjoy the fruits of their hard labour. The harvest season is a festive season all over the world.

Man wants relaxation and change after hard work. He needs to be cheered when he is depressed on account of work and anxieties. Festivals like Holi supply him with the real food and tonic to restore his cheer and peace of mind.

The religious element in the Holi festival consists of worship of Krishna. In some places it is also called the Dol Yatra. The word dol literally means “a swing”. An image of Sri Krishna as a babe is placed in a little swing-cradle and decorated with flowers and painted with coloured powders. The pure, innocent frolics of little Krishna with the merry milkmaids (Gopis) of Brindavan are commemorated. Devotees chant the Name of Krishna and sing Holi-songs relating to the frolics of little Krishna with the Gopis.

The social element during Holi is the uniting or “embracing” of the great and the small, of the rich and the poor. It is also the uniting of equals. The festival teaches us to “let the dead bury the dead”. We should forget the outgoing year’s ill-feelings and begin the new year with feelings of love, sympathy, co-operation and equality with all. We should try to feel this oneness or unity with the Self also.

Holi also means “sacrifice”. Burn all the impurities of the mind, such as egoism, vanity and lust, through the fire of devotion and knowledge. Ignite cosmic love, mercy, generosity, selflessness, truthfulness and purity through the fire of Yogic practice. This is the real spirit of Holi. Rise from the mire of stupidity and absurdity and dive deep into the ocean of divinity.

The call of Holi is to always keep ablaze the light of God-love shining in your heart. Inner illumination is the real Holi. The spring season is the manifestation of the Lord, according to the Bhagavad Gita. Holi is said there to be His heart.


Indian Festivals

Indian festivals like Lohri Festival, Pongal, Bihu, Makara Sankranti, Basant Panchami, Holi, Rath Festival, Raksha Bandhan, Janmashtami, Sivaratri, Ramanavami, Buddha Jayanti, Indian Festival Mahavir Jayanti, Onam - festival of Kerala, Ram- lila, Indian Dussehra & Indian Diwali...
With at least seven major faiths and a large agricultural population, India seems to celebrate one festival or another every day in the year. In addition, each seasonal change - such as the coming of spring, the monsoon and the harvests - is celebrated. Yet another factor here is the strength of the bonds of familial affection and concern. Festivals further strengthen these ties across the extended family system which embraces in-laws, distant relatives and friends.
Indian festivals can be specific to a region, or the same festival will be celebrated in different places in a slightly different form. In fact, every community has its own special emphasis and unique form of expression in the celebration of a festival.
Officially, India follows the Gregorian calendar. However, the older lunar and solar calendars determine the dates of festivals and thus they vary each year. Three secular national holidays are fixed: 26 January is Republic Day, 15 August is Independence Day and 2 October is the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi.

The January sugarcane harvest in North India is celebrated in the Lohri festival, an occasion for joy and thanksgiving for the bounty of nature. There is music, song and the sharing of sweets made out of the new sugar and sesame seeds. In South India, where rice is the staple food, the harvest festival is called Pongal; it is Bihu in Assam and Makara Sankranti in other parts of the country. A delightful occasion in South India is Mattu Pongal, also in January, when cattle (and cars, tractors and buses) are washed and decorated with garlands and honoured for their hard work in bringing in a good harvest.

Republic Day is celebrated with massive parades on 26 January to mark the day in 1950 when India was declared a republic and the Constitution of India came into effect. In New Delhi, the army, navy and air force parade is followed by a display of floats with dancers from different parts of India. The government hands out awards to eminent people in the fields of science, the arts and social work, and there is a special Bravery Award for children. The event, which takes place in New Delhi and in every state capital, is televised. Tickets and passes are available for those who want to watch it live. The curtain rings down two days later with a Beating of the Retreat, an impressive hour-long performance of music and marching by the combined bands of the armed forces.

Basanta Panchami and Holi are the major spring festivals, held in February and March. They are best experienced in North India, where the changing seasons are more noticeable. Homes are cleaned, and on the eve of Holi, huge bonfires burn away the old year and usher in the new. Children play with colored powders and water, visit the homes of relatives and romp in the streets splashing colors on everyone. This ancient ritual has inspired some lovely and often bawdy - songs which can be heard in the villages. By noon an exhausted silence reigns and the festivities are over.
Soon after Holi, on 13 April, there is a festival of music and dance especially important to Sikhs and Punjabis. By April and May, the gulmohar, laburnum and cassia trees are in flower and it is time for Pooram, celebrated at Trichur (Kerala) with processions of temple elephants carrying ceremonial umbrellas to the accompaniment of music. Soon the summer heat becomes unbearable even for the gods, and in the Rath festival at Puri (Orissa), the presiding deities - Jaganath, Balaram and Subhadra - are taken from the temple to their summer abode in huge wooden chariots pulled by thousands of people.
Before the monsoon there are occasions when it is auspicious to bathe in the Ganges and other rivers. Once the rains come, there are further celebrations. Nowhere in the world does rain inspire so much spontaneous music and poetry as in India. During Teej, celebrated in honour of Parvati (the wife of Shiva), it was customary for woman and young brides to return to their parents' home. Swings were hung on trees and in the houses, and the girls would get together with their old friends. Far from the watchful eye of their in-laws and husbands, the women abandoned themselves with their companions as in former days.

In North India during July and August, Raksha Bandhan is an occasion for brothers to reiterate their affection for and their pledge to protect their sisters, who tie a delicate rakhi thread (now made with gold and tassels) to their brothers' wrists as a symbol of affection. They, in turn, present their sisters with a gift or money, symbolizing their protection.

Janmashtami is a nationwide festival in honor of the god Krishna, represented as a naughty child, cowherd, divine lover and destroyer of evil. You can observe Janmashtami at Mathura, Krishna's birthplace, or at any Vishnu temple. Like at Christmas, houses are cleaned and devotees decorate Krishna's image with dolls and toys for his enjoyment. Other festivals for the gods include Sivaratri (for Shiva) in February-March, an occasion for fasting and prayers; Ramanavami (for Rama, the hero of the Ramayana) in March-April; and Buddha Jayanti and Mahavir Jayanti from March to May.

India's Independence Day is 15 August. The prime minister addresses the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort in Delhi and there are celebrations throughout the country.
Onam is an important festival in Kerala which marks the end of the monsoon (August-September). It features boat races in which elegant snake-boats decorated with flowers and flags and manned with 30 to 40 rowers compete, while crowds line the banks of the river and cheer them on.
In August and September, Maharashtra celebrates Ganesh Chaturti in honour of Ganesh, the god of wisdom and remover of obstacles. Every new venture, journey or celebrations in India begins with the propitiation of Ganesh. He is an endearing deity, with his elephant head and prosperous round belly. He is known to love sweets. The clay images that are made for this occasion are carried in huge processions and immersed in the sea are a river, a symbolic return to the earth and nature.

Ramadan is a month-long period of piety and fasting for Muslims, during which time it was believed the Koran was given to man through the Prophet Muhammad. The last day of Ramadan, Id-ul-Fitr, is celebrated with feasting. On Id-Bakrid, Abraham's sacrifice of his son to God is remembered with feasting and alms-giving.
In October and November, Dussehra (dus means 'ten') is a ten-day festival that commemorates Durga's conquest of the mighty buffalo-demon, Mahisha. As the legend goes, all the gods co-operated to create this perfect goddess, whose strength exceeded all of theirs combines. Shiva gave her his trident, the wind god his bow, Indra his thunderbolt, and so on. The festival is popular in eastern India, and cities like Calcutta teem with processions and music.
Another legend runs through Dussehra and

Diwali, that of Rama, an incarnation of Vishnu. During Dussehra the Ramayana is narrated and dramatized in parts of India in the Ram-lila (the life story of Rama). Rama is the heir-apparent to the throne of Ayodhya who, by the jealous intrigues of a step-mother, is exiled for 14 years. Rama, his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana wander off into the forest; there Sita is kidnapped by the mighty ten-headed king of Lanka, Ravana. Ram, in an alliance with Hanuman, lord of the monkeys, invades Lanka and in a fierce battle Ravana is vanquished. On the tenth day of Dussehra, effigies of Ravana are burnt to celebrate the victory. Diwali marks the triumphant return of Rama, Lakshmana and Sita to their kingdom. To light up their way home each year, homes are illuminated with traditional oil lamps, fireworks are set off, sweets are distributed, and there is general rejoicing with family and friends. The festival also marks the moonless night before winter sets in, and at Diwali Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity is also honoured. People gamble at this time to test their luck for the new year.

Christmas in India is celebrated with the exchange of presents and the singing of beautiful hymns in Indian languages.


Saturday, January 27, 2007

indian fashion

Indian fashion varies from one village to another village, from one city to another city. India's fashion heritage is rich in tradition, vibrant in colors and prepossessing. Bold colors created by the inventive drapes of these textiles catches the imagination like no other contemporary clothing.

Indian Fashion - ancient fashion in India

Ancient Indian fashion garments generally used no stitching although Indians knew about sewing. Most clothes were ready to wear as soon as they left the loom. The traditional Indian Dhoti, the Scarf or Uttariya, and the popular Turban are still visible India and continue to be part of Indian fashion. Likewise, for women, the Dhoti or the Sari as the lower garments, combined with a Stanapatta forms the basic ensemble, and once again consists of garments that do not have to be stitched, the stanapatta being simply fastened in a knot at the back. And the Dhoti or the Sari worn covering both legs at the same time or, in the alternative, with one end of it passed between the legs and tucked at the back in the fashion that is still prevalent in large area of India. Indian men and women for these garments in the usually hot Indian climate. - dhoti when he speaks of 'turbans used for trousers', and a kaupina when he is speaking of 'a rag of two fingers' breadth bound over the loins.

Indian sari remains the traditional clothing of Indian women. Worn in varied styles, it is a long piece of flat cotton, silk or other fabric woven in different textures with different patterns. The sari has a lasting charm since it is not cut or tailored for a particular size. This graceful feminine attire can also be worn in several ways and its manner of wearing as well as its color and texture are indicative of the status, age, occupation, region and religion of a woman. The tightly fitted, short blouse worn under a sari is called a choli. The choli evolved as a form of Indian clothing around the tenth century AD and the first cholis were only front covering; the back was always bare.

Another popular attire of women in Indian clothing is the Indian salwar-kameez. This popular Indian dress evolved as a comfortable and respectable garment for women in Kashmir and Punjab region, but is now immensely popular in all regions of India. Salwars are pyjama-like trousers drawn tightly in at the waist and the ankles. Over the salwars, women wear a long and loose tunic known as a kameez. One might occasionally come across women wearing a churidar instead of a salwar. A churidar is similar to the salwar but is tighter fitting at the hips, thighs and ankles. Over this, one might wear a collarless or mandarin-collar tunic called a kurta.

Though the majority of Indian women wear traditional Indian dresses, the men in India can be found in more conventional western clothing like shirts and trousers.

However, men in Indian villages are still more comfortable in traditional attire like kurtas, lungis, dhotis and pyjamas. Indian dresses & styles are marked by many variations, both religious and regional and one is likely to witness a plethora of colors, textures and styles in garments worn by the Indians.

Use of gold in india: For this reason, some gold ornament is usually worn against the skin at all times. Indian Gold ornaments are popular because the metal is believed to have the power purify anything it touches. Ornaments of gold and other metals, often combined with precious and semi-precious gems and beads, are popular with both men and women in India. Traditionally, Indian ornaments had economic significance for women too. The ornaments given to her at her wedding constituted a daughter's inheritance from her father ( Dowry). Customarily land and other property was divided among the sons, though this no longer holds true. In addition, a bride's ornaments were financial security throughout her life.

Ornaments of Indian Fashion :

Nose pin: More common than a nose ring, both are symbols of purity & marriage, though today many unmarried Indian girls wear this adornment.

Necklace: These are very popular fashion accessories across India amongst girls and women of all ages. Necklaces are made of a variety of materials, ranging from glass beads to gold and diamonds. One special necklace is the mangalasutra, worn only by married Indian women. It is the Indian equivalent of the western wedding ring. Traditionally a woman wore it during her wedding ceremony and took it off only if her husband died.

Bangles: Worn on the wrist, bangles are believed to be protective bands and women always wore them as symbolic guards over their husbands. As with other ornaments, bangles today are worn by women of all ages all over India and are made of silver, gold, wood, glass, and plastic, among other materials.

Ear rings: Rings, studs and other ornaments worn in the ears are popular all over the country. In fact, a girl's ears are usually pierced before her first birthday.

Other important ornaments are finger rings, toe rings and anklets. Rings for the fingers are again, of various materials and designs and worn by unmarried and married women. Since the ring has become a common adornment, it is no longer considered a symbol in indian marriages.

However, toe rings and anklets are still worn mostly by married women. Ornaments for the feet are usually made of silver because gold, being a 'pure' metal, was not supposed to be worn on the feet. This privilege was given only to women of royal Indian families.

In addition to these ornaments is the 'mangatika' or 'tikli'. This ornament, worn at the top of the forehead in the parting of the hair, is usually a small pendant on the end of a chain that is clasped to the hair. Although traditionally this ornament was also worn as a symbol of marriage, today it is not so commonly worn even by married women.

Kajal or Eyeliner : From the time a child is six days old, its mother applies kajal to its eyes and also a small black dot on the forehead to mar the child's beauty. This 'imperfection' is said to protect from evil.

Sindoor : dot on forehead of woman indicating married status of Indian Women, power, protection for her husband. It is applied by the husband as part of wedding ceremony.