Clubs & Fashion | Feature – British Bindi culture, and why it's wrong

Photo: Justin Gardner

I remember it like it was yesterday. It was  six years ago on a Monday night, and anyone who was anyone in the suburbs of Reading town were stocking up on litre’s of white ace, buckling up buttons on their Ben Sherman polo’s and making the final spiritual preparations for the weekly event that sat in a peerless space of its own, indie-night Skint Mondays at Revolution.

A friend who was coming over for pre-drinks arrives on the scene, sauntering into my mum’s living room donning the finest accessories and high street regalia that a Christmas Topman voucher can buy. After a quick glance in the mirror to make sure his hair gel hadn’t disintegrated in the soft Berkshire rain, he made himself comfortable on the settee.

To make sure us boys were behaving ourselves, my mum enters the scene only to gasp, squint and awkwardly shuffle around the living room. To my Irish Catholic mother, the neon glow-stick rosary bead’s swinging round my friends neck weren’t a kooky fashion statement, they were a tasteless appropriation that really quite upset her.

The point of this awkward monologue from my teenage years, is that there has been a curious trend sweeping across the dance-floors of house music events across the UK. If you stand outside Mint, Beaverworks, Faversham or Control on a Friday night in Leeds city centre, you will see party goers queuing up with Bindi decorations glued onto their foreheads.


bindi 2Photo: Justin Gardner

The traditional Bindi mark has a deep symbolic significance, representing love, honour and prosperity in married Hindu women. Bindi jewelry itself is usually reserved only for a very special occasion, such as a marriage or in the case of a Leeds Student: Flux. So without meaning to sound too puritanical, does this ancient insignia, which has grown from the roots of Indian history truly have a place on the unhallowed dance-floors of Leeds’ nightclubs?

Because when I glance into a bustling crowd at a Leeds house night, and see laser machine beams ricocheting off 80 or so brightly decorated foreheads, I can’t help but help but wonder: if there were married Hindu women bobbing through the dance-floor alongside me, would they shrug it off? Or would they share the same emotions that my mum Breda did, back on that stormy night in 2008?

James Andersen

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