Rendered offerings of Dakshina to the Priests this afternoon, for six years looking after me. There is another Bandh upon my forearm, tied with a warding; and Tilaka upon my brow.
Now, to elucidate what is going on here – this is a resonancy to quite ancient, fundamental Indo-European ritual. The cornerstones of which are the ‘relationship’ (a slightly figurative rendering for “Sraddha”), and the ‘reciprocity’.
First, Offerings are made to The Gods – and along with this (in fact, as part of this, we may say), also to the officiating Priest(s) (Who is, after all, representing The Gods in this context). The latter is referred to as Dakshina [from the same root as western ‘Dexter’ – i.e. ‘Right Conduct’].
A Blessing is then bestowed – to be eaten of, in the case of food (‘a gift for a gift’, the sustenance offered bringing back with it blessing in return); and applied to the brow by the Priest, as can be seen here.
Now, the Tilaka itself is interesting – on one level, there is a set of metaphysical reasoning for its application, pertaining to the qualities of the substance in relation to the area of the body which it is applied to. But on another … it hearkens back to something else:
An application of blood to the forehead of the worshipper, from the sacrifice. Something which still finds a rather more direct resonancy than red Sindoor / Sindura powder in the occasional direct utilization of Blood for this amongst those Hindu groups which still practice such things.
As a further point of clarification – most of the Hindu world does not still regularly carry out living sacrifices, whether animal or particularly human (although there are some places where animals may still be offered). Instead, ancient ‘ritual substitution’ formulas found in the Brahmanas [millennia-old ritual manuals codified near thirty centuries ago] form a basis for instead offering food of other sorts – fruit and vegetables, grain, and baked sweets and desserts.
Whichever way one chooses to approach the essence of the emblazonment, its ultimate meaning is clear – the blessing has been received.
And for Six Years, so it has been!