Bindis are now popular outside South Asia as well. Sometimes they are worn as a style statement. International celebrities such as Gwen Stefani, Julia Roberts, Madonna, Selena Gomez and many others have been seen wearing bindis.
A bindi (Hindi: बिंदी, from Sanskrit bindu, meaning "a drop, small particle, dot"; see below for alternative designations) is a forehead decoration worn in South Asia (particularly India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Mauritius) and Southeast Asia. Traditionally it is a bright dot of red colour applied in the centre of the forehead close to the eyebrows, but it can also consist of other colours with a sign or piece of jewellery worn at this location.
Traditionally, the area between the eyebrows (where the bindi is placed) is said to be the sixth chakra, ajna, the seat of "concealed wisdom". The bindi is said to retain energy and strengthen concentration. The bindi also represents the third eye. The Nasadiya Sukta of the Rig Veda, the earliest known Sanskrit text, mentions the word vindu/bindu.
In modern times, the bindi is worn by women of many religious dispositions in South Asia and Southeast Asia, and is not restricted to one religion or region. However, the Islamic Research Foundation, located in India, says "wearing a bindi or mangalsutra is a sign of Hindu women. The traditional bindi still represents and preserves the symbolic significance that is integrated into Indian mythology in many parts of India."
Red represents honour, love and prosperity, hence it was worn traditionally by women to symbolise this day.
The red bindi has multiple meanings which are all valid at the same time. It is also a spiritual symbol.
By one simple interpretation it is a cosmetic mark used to enhance beauty.
From Vedic times, the bindi was created as a means to worship one's intellect. Therefore, it was used by both men and women. The worship of intellect was in order to use it to ensure our thoughts, speech, actions, habits and ultimately our character becomes pure. A strong intellect can help one to make noble decisions in life, be able to stand up to challenges in life with courage, and recognise and welcome good thoughts in life. The belief was that on this a strong individual, a strong family and strong society can be formed.
In meditation, this very spot between the eyebrows (Bhrumadhya) is where one focuses his/her sight, so that it helps concentration. Most images of Buddha or Hindu divinities in meditative pose with their eyes nearly closed show the gaze focused between eyebrows (other spot being the tip of the nose – naasikagra).
Swami Muktanand writes 'auspicious Kumkum or sandal wood paste is applied (between the eyebrows) out of respect for inner Guru. It is the Guru's seat. There is a chakra (centre of spiritual energy within human body) here called Ajna (Aadnyaa) chakra meaning 'Command centre'. Here you receive the Guru's command to go higher in Sadhana (spiritual practice) to the 'Sahasraar' (seventh and final chakra) which leads to Self-realisation. The flame seen at the eyebrow is called 'Guru Jyoti'.