/til"euhk/, n., pl. tilak, tilaks.
a distinctive spot of colored powder or paste worn on the forehead by Hindu men and women as a religious symbol.
[ < Skt tilaka]

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▪ Hindu symbolism
Sanskrit  Tilaka 

      (“mark”), in Hinduism, a mark generally made on the forehead, indicating a man's sectarian affiliation. The marks are made by hand or with a metal stamp, using ash from a sacrificial fire, sandalwood paste, turmeric, cow dung, clay, charcoal, or red lead. Among some cults the mark is made on 2, 5, 12, or 32 parts of the body as well as on the forehead. Among Śaivas (followers of Śiva), the tilak usually takes the form of three horizontal parallel lines across the forehead, with or without a red dot. Sometimes a crescent moon or trident denotes a Śaiva. Among Vaishnavas (followers of Vishnu), the many tilak variations follow a general pattern of two or more vertical lines resembling the letter U and representing the foot of Vishnu, with or without a central line or dot.

      The marks worn by women on the forehead (most commonly a red dot for unwidowed women) may also indicate sect affiliation; more frequently, however, they vary according to the fashion prevailing in a particular part of India.

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Universalium. 2010.

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