Tamil - Kunkum vermilion powder, Kumkum kunkumam

Kunkum vermilion powder

Vermilion powder of bright red colour is used by women to put kumkum. Kumkum is put on the center part of the pre-head. It is considered auspicious. Traditionally kumkum worn on the pre-head shows the marital status of women. Now-a-days, Kumkum is available in different colours.

The kumkum is an auspicious symbol. When a girl or a married woman visits a house, it is a sign of respect (in case of an elderly lady) or blessings (in case of a young girl) to offer kumkum to them when they leave. However, it is not offered to widows. When visiting a Hindu temple, married women from southern India usually dip their ring finger in yellow turmeric powder, and apply a dot on their neck. Men, women, girls, and boys apply a dot on their forehead of red turmeric powder, also when visiting a temple or during a pooja. In most of India, everyday, married women apply red kumkum in front of their parting on their forehead as a symbol of marriage. This is called vermilion, or in Hindi, sindoor.

Saffron for kumkum is made from the flower Crocus sativus, in the family Iridaceae. The plant has many names in Sanskrit: Ghusrun, Rakta, Kashmir, Balhik, Kesar, Kashmiraj, Kumkum, Agneeshekhar, Asrugvar, Shatha, Shonit, Pitaka, or Rudhir. The saffron contains a dye consisting of 8 to 13.4% of the volatile oils crocin and picrococin.

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