Different types of tilak and their importance in Religion
In Hindu religion, people apply many different types of tilaks on their forehead, and each type of tilak has its importance. Also, tilak is assumed to be sign of prosperity and good luck. Tilaks are made using either turmeric powder, sandal, Kumkum or ashes. As there are people, who worship different gods, and as such they apply different types of tilaks on their forehead. Those, who worship Lord Shiva, are called Shaivas and they apply tilak made from ashes, as ash is a symbol of purity, and is assumed to be sacred. These people apply and draw three horizontal lines made from ashes on forehead and these are called tripundra.
Those people, who worship Lord Vishnu, are called vaishnavas, apply a tilak made from sandalwood paste, and they draw three vertical lines on their forehead. Whereas, those who worship goddess Durga, apply Kumkum on their forehead, by drawing a single vertical line. Sometimes, this tilak may be in the form of a dot also. There are few other types of tilaks also, such as Raj tilak and Vir tilak, which are mostly drawn in the form of single vertical line made from red Kumkum.
When any eminent personality is invited for a certain function or event, then the tilak applied is called Raj tilak. It was also used in ancient times, while throning kings, whereas, when persons coming back home after winning battles, were applied Vir tilak. Usually, tilak is applied by using index finger, but, as per few customs, it is applied by thumb also. Few grains of rice are usually put, after applying tilak on forehead.
Few things to know about tilak
As per the pattern of tilak applied by a person, one can identify that, person belongs to which religious group. As mentioned in yogic texts, running along the center of the body, there are seven chakras, which are related to certain aspects of body of a person. Ajna chakra is located between the eyebrows, and tilak is placed on forehead at this place. Ajna chakra is assumed as “eye of intuition”, and a person can sense the information, which he can’t see with his own eyes. It is therefore said that tilak is placed on the third eye.
It is said in Hindu religion that the Divine is inside each human body and each body is temple of God. If anyone applies a tilak on his forehead, then it is considered as auspicious decoration of temple of God. Also, it is considered that applying a tilak is helpful to maintain the focus of a person towards his goals and not get distracted to other activities. Although applying tilak is a custom adopted by Hindus, but anyone can apply it. Tilak can be applied at any time of the day but, it is better to apply it after taking bath. Also, it is good to apply it when you are taking part in any type of puja, or while going to temple or while attending any Hindu festival.
There are many different traditions in Hindu religion and in each tradition there are different methods of applying tilak, also there are different materials, and shapes of tilaks used as per different traditions. Apart from this, Jains also apply tilak with Jain images made with sandalwood paste when they worship. In few parts of India, even Christians also use tilak on some occasions and during worship rites. Parsis from India also apply tilak in their marriage ceremonies. Tilak ceremony is very common in Hindus and they use this to welcome guests and to show respect and honor to their guests.
Scientific and Spiritual reasons of applying Tilak
There are few scientific as well as spiritual reasons for applying tilak on forehead. According to old belief, each and everything and every person on the earth is sacred and human body is also divine and it is created by God. If anyone does meditation with full concentration on Ajna Chakra, then it is considered that he/she will have a good perception and a foresight. Ajna represents perception or it means ‘to become aware of’ so, to protect yourself from evil intentions, tilak is applied between eyebrows, with sandal, holy ash, or vermillion. A tilak, which is applied from Ajna chakra towards forehead, has a significance that thoughts of the person, who has applied tilak are channelized towards spirituality. It is also said that applying a tilak on forehead can increase your intuition power.
Scientific significance of applying tilak are that it is assumed that forehead of a person should be cool, because it generates heat due to agitation of thoughts and sandalwood paste has an effect, which cools forehead. Secondly, vermillion contains mercuric sulfide, which is useful for reducing fatigue and stress. Turmeric tilak is good for promoting good health, it can regulate aura of the body, and also helpful for eliminating negative energy. Applying tilak of ash, protects your body from radical damage as it contains calcine ash, which helps for reducing radical damage.
Different Castes signified by color of tilak
Different castes use different colored tilaks to apply tilak, such as, Brahmins apply sandalwood tilak, which denotes purity. Brahmins were involved in jobs like teachers and priests. Tilak of Kumkum, which is red, is applied by Kshatriyas, and red tilak signifies bravery, and kshatriyas were involved in wars and were considered to be warrior Yellow or orange tilak is applied by Vaishyas, because, turmeric denotes wealth and abundance and Vaishyas were involved in businesses. Similarly, Bhasma or charcoal tilak, was applied by Shudras as they used to offer services to other three castes. According to shape of the applied tilak, you can identify that, person worships which God. Those persons, who worship Lord Vishnu, apply a sandalwood tilak in the shape of “U”. Similarly, a person, who worships Lord Shiva, will apply a tilak of Bhasma in the form of Tripundra, which consists of three horizontal lines on forehead, with a dot made from ash.