A white girl wore a bindi at Coachella. And, then my social media feeds went berserk. Hashtagging the term “cultural appropriation” follows the outrage and seems to justify it at the same time. Except that it doesn’t.

Cultural appropriation is the adoption of a specific part of one culture by another cultural group. As I (an Indian) sit here, eating my sushi dinner (Japanese) and drinking tea (Chinese), wearing denim jeans (American), and overhearing Brahm’s Lullaby (German) from the baby’s room, I can’t help but think what’s the big deal?

The big deal with cultural appropriation is when the new adoption is void of the significance that it was supposed to have — it strips the religious, historical and cultural context of something and makes it mass-marketable. That’s pretty offensive. The truth is, I wouldn’t be on this side of the debate if we were talking about Native American headdresses, or tattoos of Polynesian tribal iconography, Chinese characters or Celtic bands.

Why shouldn’t the bindi warrant the same kind of response as the other cultural symbols I’ve listed, you ask? Because most South Asians won’t be able to tell you the religious significance of a bindi. Of my informal survey of 50 Hindu women, not one could accurately explain it’s history, religious or spiritual significance. I had to Google it myself, and I’ve been wearing one since before I could walk.

We can’t accuse non-Hindus of turning the bindi into a fashion accessory with little religious meaning because, well, we’ve already done that. We did it long before Vanessa Hudgens in Coachella 2014, long before Selena Gomez at the MTV Awards in 2013, and even before Gwen Stefani in the mid-90s.

Indian statesman Rajan Zed justifies the opposing view as he explains, “[The bindi] is an auspicious religious and spiritual symbol… It is not meant to be thrown around loosely for seductive effects or as a fashion accessory…” If us Indians had preserved the sanctity and holiness of the bindi, Zed’s argument for cultural appropriation would have been airtight. But, the reality is, we haven’t.

The 5,000 year old tradition of adorning my forehead with kumkum just doesn’t seem to align with the current bindi collection in my dresser — the 10-pack, crystal-encrusted, multi-colored stick-on bindis that have been designed to perfectly compliment my outfit. I didn’t happen to pick up these modern-day bindis at a hyper-hipster spot near my new home in California. No. This lot was brought from the motherland itself.

And, that’s just it. Culture evolves. Indians appreciated the beauty of a bindi and brought it into the world of fashion several decades ago. The single red dot that once was, transformed into a multitude of colors and shapes embellished with all the glitz and glamor that is inherent in Bollywood. I don’t recall an uproar when Indian actress Madhuri Dixit’s bindi was no longer a traditional one. Hindus accepted the evolution of this cultural symbol then. And, as the bindi makes it’s way to the foreheads of non-South Asians, we should accept — even celebrate — the continued evolution of this cultural symbol. Not only has it managed to transcend religion and class in a sea of one-billion brown faces, it will now adorn the faces of many more races. And that’s nothing short of amazing.

So, you won’t find this Hindu posting a flaming tweet accusing a white girl of #culturalappropriation. I will say that I’m glad you find this aspect of my culture beautiful. I do too.


Why a Bindi Is NOT an Example of Culture Appropriation 

by Anjali Joshi

(via breannekiele)

imaginaryenemy-:

(by annabellp)

jedavu:

Amazing Face-Paintings Transform Models Into The 2D Works Of Famous Artists

by  Valeriya Kutsan

[Act I The Witches]

We are women. It is enough. We never boiled cats in a cauldron. Never Greteled a girl in a stove. No poisoned apples, no dancing nude in a forest. Not even a song for the moon.

We have mistakes and privileges, wounds, masks. We have thread and flour, children. Perhaps a pair of red shoes.

Here again, the moon rises. And here again, the preacher. And here again, the village. We’ve been hunted before. Dragged by our hair, mouthfuls of mud. Salved burst lips and cigarette burns. Been the blood at the stabbing, the break in the bone.

Here again, us. Gossip rattling our doors, a hundred hungry dolls in the cornfield, chanting our names. Their torches lighting the sky.


[Act II The Preacher]

I was your first murder, but you’ve forgotten. Left your church after the rotted truth. All the broken teeth. Your stash of sucked-dry bones, the jars of hair. You are running out of women to burn.

Stop blaming everyone else for your sins. You snuck through the houses. You slaughtered the dogs. Now, your weeping, beguiled moppets. Your devoted choir. They cannot unsing your crimes.

Face me, Parris. Come to my tombstone and pray. Remember me. I was alive once. I watched you pour the gasoline. Mine was the voice begging No when you struck the match.


[Act III The Village]

When the man at the altar (microphone) speaks, you say it is gospel. His word, The Word. His hand on a good book (beer), his hand on his heart (penis). If he says he did not murder, he did not murder. If he says he did not lie, he did not lie. And none shall speak against it. And none shall speak at all.

And here again, the moon rises. And here again, the preacher. Oh, you gaggle of trained chickens, you flurry of cluck and feather! Let me drag you to the pile of charred bones. Press your noses to the rotting flesh. This woman was a teacher. This, a painter. This girl, here, was a person. She had a heart and a face. A mind of questions, ambitions, and love. She had love.

Look what you’ve done. Your hands, covered in soot. The reek of smoke. This mountain of bodies. This, your mother. Your sister. Here, your own smoldering daughter.


puppytaire:

modern au patroclus can’t get through a day without achilles sending him a text like “patroclus i did a thing are you proud”

girlwiththetea:

i bought a flower crown today

lionboylouis:

an appropriate outfit for shopping

the-library-and-step-on-it:

MY HOME LIBRARY:

Complete works in the same edition.

This was my 2012-2013 project: every time I got a good grade or had done something worth celebrating, I bought one book.

itscolossal:

Reflected Landscapes by Victoria Siemer

killerville:

Siyu Chen

walmartsurrealism:

i get anxiety because idk what will come after postmodernism