Urdhva Pundra has been a Hindu tradition for thousands of years in the Vaishnav Sampraday of Hindu community.

Urdhva Pundra; source : wikimedia commons


Urdhva Pundra is a sacred religious symbol that Hindu devotees wear on their body.

Welcome to the world of engrossed and insightful readings at www.onindianpath.com. Today, I am going to focus on the tilak you have seen on the foreheads of most of the Hindus – Urdhva Pundra.


Urdhva Pundra is a symbol of belonging to Vaishnavism. It is a part of tilak which every Hindu wear as a sign of victory, auspiciousness and belongingness.

Do you know what is Tilak? Tilak is a Sanskrit word derived from til which is seasme seeds.

Apparently our ancient texts tells us about the great importance of sesame seed in daily life, religious activities like puja, snan, yagnas and charity.

Why do Hindus mark Tilak on their forehead?

A tilak is imprinted on a person’s forehead from Aghya chakra to Samsara Chakra. As the popularity of yoga and allied healing sciences of India has told us enough about the importance of chakras in our body.

Shortly speaking, chakras are the energy points of our body. Particularly, Aghya chakra is located between eyebrows also called third eye chakra. Samsara Chakra is located at the crown of our head. Subsequently, these are the locations at our body through which one can channel divinity, enlightment, concentration resulting into spiritual and mental growth of an individual.

What Is Urdhva Pundra?

Further, Urdhva Pundra is a Sanskrit word which means elevated mark. Moreover, It is a tilak worn by Vaishnavites as a sign of their affiliation with Lord Vishnu. Vaishnavites are the people who genuinely follows the lessons of Lord Vishnu.

Generally, Hindus wear it on the forehead. But, they also wear it on other parts of the body such as the shoulders, chest and neck. These markings are made as a daily ritual, or on special religious occasions like Havana, festivals etc and pilgrimage.

Although Urdhva Pundra is made of gopi chandan( soil from the Brij), yellow sandalwood paste and kumkum or red saffron powder. Thus symbol has three horizontal lines. And, Lines at left and right sides either make a English letter U or Y. Different shapes define the following of different sects and names of Lord Vishnu.

Types of Urdhva Pundra

Urdhva Pundra
Types of Urdhva Pundra as per sects ; source : google

Moreover, Hinduism tells us about different types of Urdhva Pundra that are based on the different sects or traditions. As per my research, I am sharing few common types:


Tripundra denotes three horizontal lines drawn on the forehead, representing the devotee’s devotion towards Lord Shiva. These devotees are popularly called Shaivianites. These lines are made with vibhuti or ashes telling us concept of the immortality and duality of life.

Urdhva Pundra with a “V” shape

Infact, some of the Vaishnavites wear a Urdhva Pundra that makes an upward-pointing in a shape of English letter “V” or an elongated English letter “U” shape, on the forehead. This signifies devotion to Lord Vishnu or one of his avatars, like Lord Krishna or Lord Rama.

Urdhva Pundra with a single vertical line

Similarly, Urdhva Pundra with a single vertical line is the simplest form of Urdhva Pundra, where a single vertical line is drawn on the forehead with Chandan. Because of its simple creation, one can witness this tilak at most of the festivals, temples and devotees.


Shrivatsa source google

Nevertheless many devotees wear a small mark called Shrivatsa (a sign present in the chest of Lord Vishnu) is placed within the Urdhva Pundra (U shape), signifying devotion to Lord Krishna.

Chandlo Tilak

Meanwhile Chandlo Tilak is the one where one red colored dot (made with haldi and red kumkum) is marked in between the U shape Urdhva Pundra. Chandlo refers to shape of moon. A dot or a bindu is marked to signify which sect one belongs too. Even this is also used to express devotion to a particular deity or tradition.

Shakta chandlo or Bindu

Shakta are the followers of Shaktism. Infact they are followers of Goddess Shakti. Here the devotees wear a big red dot on forehead.Thus, the marking which shaktities apply to their forehead, to remind themselves and others that we are all eternal servants of Goddess Durga. Apparently the colour and size of Bindu differs at different geographical locations ( we will be covering in upcoming blogs).

Body parts where Urdhva Pundra is applied

Furthermore, in Urdhva Pundra, the U-shaped mark represents the heel of Lord Vishnu, and the oval part at the bottom represents the Tulsi leaf. Mostly, Tilak is applied to twelve parts of the body, and the twelve names of the Lord Vishnu are recited with each application. Also, these names are :

  • Keshava – Forehead
  • Narayana – Stomach
  • Madhava – Heart
  • Govinda – Neck
  • Vishnu – Right-section of stomach
  • Vamana – Left-section of stomach
  • Madhusudana – Middle of right hand
  • Trivikrama – Left ear
  • Hrishikesha – Right ear
  • Sridhara – Left hand
  • Padmanabha – Hind
  • Damodara – Nape
  • Vasudeva – Head

How to apply Urdhva Pundra

One must use gopi chandan and kumkum to wear Urdhva pundra. Firstly, to apply tilak, start with a holy Ganga or Yamuna water. If you don’t have any holy river water, get some plain water. Secondly, start stirring it with your right middle finger and chant Mantra for reviving life (prana) in to the water:

ganga cha yamune chaivagodavari saravatinarmade sindho kaverijale ‘smin sannidhim kuru

Translation- O Ganges, O Yamuna, O Godavari, O Saravati, O Narmada, O Sindhu, O Kaveri, please become present in this water.

Thirdly, put the water in your left hand and rub the gopi chandan into the water, creating a wet paste out of the chandan. Begin by putting your ring finger of the right hand into the mix.

Fourthly, starting between the eyebrows, bring the finger straight up to the hairline, making two straight lines. It should look like a long narrow U-shape.

Then use some more tilak to make the Tulsi leaf on your nose, it should extend about 3/4 of the way down your nose.

At the end put a bindu or vertical line in between as per your belief and devotion.

Significance of Urdhva Pundra

Indeed there is always a meaning behind every line and dot in Hinduism. Let’s read on the significance of these three vertical three in the Urdhva Pundra.

As per Puranas, these lines are three worlds; Bhu, Bhuva and Svar. Many text suggests that it denotes the three phonemes of Aum – A, U, M.

Additionally, some scholars says that Urdhva suggests us the the three states of consciousness – awake, dream sleep, deep sleep. No only this they also symbolise the three realities – Maya, Brahman and Atman.

Although Shiv Purana suggests three horizontal lines as three bodies – Sthula, Sukshma and Karana.

Benefits of applying Urdhva Pundra

There are many health benefits too.

  • Body is a temple. Urdhava Pundra helps in improving creativity and concentration.
  • Anyone can wear Urdhva Pundra as it represents entire spiritual lineage of the wearer.
  • It boosts self confidence.
  • It enables one’s ability to put forth religious and personal thoughts.
  • It keeps your head cool as it is applied with sandalwood powder.
  • It is a way by which native gets into the spirituality and divinity.
  • It improves mental strength.
  • It gives inner peace and stability.
  • Many people apply it on neck to filter Kanth hence it helps in making voice melodious.


Hence, we can now conclude that Urdhva Pundra is not just a symbol, it is far more significant in Hinduism. Again it represents identity, belongingness, spiritual and physical well being of a devotee. Have a blessed read.

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2 thoughts on “Why do Hindus Apply Urdhva Pundra?

    1. Thank you so much Ms. Alpika. Kindly keep following our blog for more updates and information about Hinduism.

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