"the caste mark of a brahmin woman"

Girl @ Anjuna Beach, Goa, India
Creative Commons AttributionGirl @ Anjuna Beach, Goa, India - Credit: Steve Weaver
There has long been a social hierarchy in the Indian subcontinent, known as the caste system.  It is primarily associated with the dominant religion, Hinduism, but culturally it is observed by other groups too.  The Brahmins are an upper caste; traditionally, members performed religious duties and were scholars.  The name comes from Brahma, the Hindi god, or deva, of creation.  The mark on a woman's forehead is a recognisable feature of Indian culture.  Known variously as a Bindi, Tilak or Teep, it can denote a woman's marital status, caste or sect.  They are usually coloured red, and sometimes decorated with small jewels.  This area on the forehead is said to be the location of the sixth chakra, or 'third eye'.  In Hindu culture, it is believed that powerful kundalini energy can exit the body through this point.  Marking the forehead ensures that this energy is retained.