|Text and Context in Dialogue|
Having read and enjoyed to some extent Living Water and Indian Bowl by Swami Dayanand Bharati I find your inclusion [VOB 1:2, page 13] of that book's "resurrected-out-of-the-ark" article on the tika (or is the red dot something else?) must mean you are hard up for material! I have been in a situation where I had a tika poked on my brow by a Bahun in his capacity as a priest. To say the wearing of a tika is only a question of fashion and has no religious meaning or connotation; that it has nothing to do with puja is total nonsense in the Nepali context. You must live in a rarefied atmosphere of sophisticated urbanites to believe it has no religious significance. As you well know, one is a Hindu by what he does, i.e. puja, not by what one believes! To wear a tika = being a Hindu, isn't it?
The reader is referred to H.L. Richard's article in the last issue of VOB "New Paradigms for Understanding Hinduism and Contextualization" (VOB 2:2, p.5ff) for discussion on who is and who isn't a Hindu. As for red dots on the forehead there are clearly several different kinds. Bindi is very much a cosmetic item. Sindhur, the red powder placed in the woman's parting, is clearly a sign of marriage. Tika, however, is given in many different situations, not just religious contexts. Tika is given, for instance, when a (sophisticated urban?) politician wins an election or when a student passes his exams. So we must not make blanket judgements on this issue. We definitely need some thorough research and further friendly discussion if we are to come to any wise conclusions. Any offers?