The tilak-chandlo has been a Hindu tradition, especially in the Vaishnav Sampraday, for thousands of years as a symbol of victory, auspiciousness, and belonging to a particular faith. Tilak, a mark of Hindu Sanatan Dharma, comes from the Sanskrit word ‘til’ which means sesame seed. The sesame seed has great importance in yagnas and charity. A tilak is imprinted on a person’s forehead because it is the location through which one can channel Divinity, thus enhancing the spiritual character of an individual. Male devotees of the Swaminarayan Sampraday apply a tilak and chandlo on their foreheads during their puja. The tilak is made of chandan, or yellow sandalwood paste, and the chandlo is made of kumkum, or red saffron powder. Female devotees only apply a chandlo, commonly known as bindi, on their foreheads. The tilak is representative of Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s feet, and the chandlo is representative of the devotee. In this way, the meaning of the tilak-chandlo is two-fold. First, it represents a devotee remaining at the service of God’s feet. Secondly, it represents the dual devotion to God and the gunatit guru. In the Swaminarayan Sampraday, Bhagwan Swaminarayan introduced the tilak-chandlo to His paramhansas by applying a sample on Aksharbrahma Gunatitanand Swami’s forehead. Today, millions of devotees wear the tilak-chandlo on their forehead, proudly symbolizing their affinity to Hindu dharma and their faith in Bhagwan Swaminarayan and Pramukh Swami Maharaj.

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