Mizoram CM faces bindi heat

Aizawl: The controversial wearing of bindi by Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla has come back as political issue with the ruling Congress party giving an explanation on the common practice in Hindu culture.
In a press handout, the Congress party maintained that painting a bindi one someone’s forehead is a form of showing warm welcome to that person, and is not at all related to Hinduism.
It may be recalled that Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla and his wife Lal Riliani had their foreheads painted with a bindi while attending a function in Mumbai in the middle of this year, prompting the main opposition Mizo National Front to attack him on religious lines.
The issue had already subsided when Lal Thanhawla, during an interview in a television talk show, said that even the Christian pastors from Mizoram had their foreheads painted red while attending non-Christian function outside Mizoram. After Lal Thanhawla made this remark, a Mizoram Presbyterian Church pastor clarified on local TV programme that pastors had never wore bindi on any occasion.
Capitalising on this pastor’s reaction, the MNF on Saturday renewed its attack on the chief minister accusing him of painting a black picture of pastors.
Defending Lal Thanhawla, the Congress release said that he, as a chief minister of an Indian state, had sometimes had to have his forehead painted red as a form of courtesy.
“Lal Thanhawla had many times attended a meeting of church leaders. On such occasions, the hotel management (where such meetings took place) painted bindi on his forehead to show them their respect and warm welcome,” the communiqué said, adding that it has no connection with Hinduism.
To strengthen its point, the Congress release enclosed an old photo of Pope John Paul-II having his forehead painted with a bindi at J N Stadium in 1999.
The release also made clarifications on Lal Thanhawla’s remarks in the TV interview. “He said that bindi is India’s way of welcome. I don’t think any pastor who has attended such function would avoid having his forehead painted red,” the release said, adding that, “Lal Thanhawla did not mean every pastor. He only expressed his belief that even a pastor would have his forehead painted red if he had attended such function.” (UNI)