Text and Context in Dialogue

Home  >  Volume 1  >  Number 2: May 2002

On the Propriety of Christian Women Wearing the Red Dot

by P. Chenchiah


The red dot controversy, started in the columns of your esteemed journal and illumined by illustrious contributors, reveals attitudes which are credible neither to our intellect not to our spirituality.

The simple truth of the matter is that the red-dot comes from the vanity box of women -- which is as old as Eve. To stray into theological and anthropological discussion about it is simply ridiculous. it is just a fashion and a fashion has no reason or logic about it.

The association of the red-dot with the phallic symbol is less scientific than the association of lipstick and powder-box with primitive Druid ritual and worship. if you begin to trace things to their remote origins you will find that there is hardly anything in our dress, jewels and food which has not sprung from paganism and heathenism. The under-done meal which rejoices many a Western stomach and heart, and the tango dance agree direct descendants of African customs. Would the champions of anti-red-dot campaign lead a war against the lipstick, the power-box, the tango and the under-done meal?

One point more; it is not the red-dot only that has heathen associations. More palpably and less dubiously it can be shown that Christian altars, priests' vestments, churches [Gothic], sacraments, and festivals, have heathen ancestry. Why shy at the red-dot only? Of all things, I hate with my Lord the Pharasaism that strains at the gnat and swallows the camel.

P. Chenchiah was a twentieth century Indian theologian

(From The Guardian, 1951, p. 429, reprinted in Thangasamy, D. A. [ed.], the Theology of Chenchiah, YMCA/CISRS, 1966, p 233-4, and included as Appendix A of Living Water and Indian Bowl by Dayanand Bharati, 1997m enlarged edition 2001, Delhi: ISPCK.)


We must distinguish between the Gospel and culture. If we do not, we will be in danger of making our culture the message.
Paul Hiebert

bhakti. bhakti, nom. devotion, love, loyalty