Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A pinch of Indian Tradition - Kumkum containers

Today the spot light is on my collection of antique Indian Kumkum containers. For those of you not familiar with the word Kumkum - it's a powder used to make the decorative mark (also referred to as bindi in Hindi) that adorns the Indian woman's forehead. It has it's history rooted in a 5000 year old Indian tradition. Kumkum carries with it a plethora of connotations. It's said to have religious and spiritual significance, serves as a means to preserve the energy of the human body, and in the ancient days was an unspoken raconteur of a woman's married status. When it comes to the choice of color for a bindi, red dominates. Red embodies love and power (shakti) that women so rightfully exemplify.
Kumkum containers used by my mom sit pretty on my coffee table.
For me, kumkum is a word synonymous with my mom. She has been known to sport a relatively BIG bindi for as long as I can remember. The bindi only brought out her gorgeous Indian features. She is one of the very few women who I know, can carry a big bindi so effortlessly.

I remember when mom used to walk in every morning into her bedroom after her bath, I'd run and make myself comfortable on the bed so that I could watch her put on her bindi. She'd patiently open the various brass kumkum containers that sat pretty on her vanity. A pinch of the right shade of kumkum would be chosen to match her sari or salwar. She'd then make a perfect circle with her index finger, the size of a one rupee coin. The colored bindi was a wonderful contrast to her kohl lined eyes. Gently dusting off the kumkum powder that had made it's way onto the bridge of her delicately shaped nose, mom would glance at me and wait for a nod that signaled approval. I'd beam back at her and wonder if I could ever do justice to wearing a bindi in a similar manner...... 
The peacock detail in all the containers tie them together beautifully.
With time, the brass containers were replaced by newage decorative boxes that were gifted by my sister and me to mom for her kumkum collection. The antique brass kumkum containers then found their way to mom's coffee table as decor accessories and currently sit pretty on my very own coffee table here in the US.
One of my own finds from a street vendor back in India.

Finally, here's a picture of my mom so that nothing is left to your imagination. 
I will always treasure these gorgeous containers that constantly remind me of the most beautiful woman I know.........

Images:Clicked by me. Please do not use without prior written permission.
Images are the property of Sruthi Singh and subject to copyright.


  1. Love!!! Gorgeous mom and lovely post :)

  2. Thank you Sunayana, I'm delighted you liked my post.

  3. Beautiful... You look just like your mom...

  4. Thank you for taking the time to read and reply back Priya. You always have such wonderful things to say.

  5. Hi Shruti, chanced upon u via MDC. So happy to have found ur blog n ur FB page. Loved this post esp. I cud see a large airy bedroom with curtains fluttering in the breeze where a young girl sitting was on a four poster bed watching her gorgeous mother dressing up for her day. The picture u painted in my mind with ur words was incredible, Mega-Bollywoodish! But after seeing ur mom's pic...wow! she's more gorgeous and elegant than i imagined. My respects to your mother.
    Did not mean such a long comment. Sorry:)
    waiting to read more through ur blog.

  6. Thank you Archana. I tried my best to describe mom and finally included a picture of her so that what was unsaid could be visually understood. And i love reading long comments. So feel free to stop by anytime and pour your heart out.

  7. its from a comment on my blog that i came to know about you shruti..this space of yours,your posts,images are all hearththrobbing. beautiful..love lakshmi

  8. Its been quite a while since I came online and was catching up on ur blog...whatta mood lifter!! Good work...by the way,your mom is gorgeous...now I know where u and pranu get ur looks from...

  9. Thank you for the lovely education on kumkuna and the deliciously worded details.


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