Traditional authentic Kumkum of India is made by grinding the dried turmeric to a powder. A few drops of lime are then added to this yellow powder, which changes its hue to a bright red. Kumkum is considered to be very auspicious by Indians and thus, used for various purposes on special occasions like wedding and festivals. People, however, use both red and the original yellow powders depending upon what they need the Kumkum for. Kumkum holds a great degree of significance in India, especially for married women.
When an Indian woman wears a little red Kumkum in the parting of her hair just above the forehead, it conveys the meaning that she is married. In this case, the Indian vermillion or kumkum is referred to as Sindoor or Sindur. Whenever a female visits someone's house, it is customary for the elder ladies of that family to offer or apply a little kumkum on her forehead. In south India, whenever married women visit temples they dip their finger in yellow turmeric powder and apply a dot on their necks.
Sindoor is not just used by the womenfolk of India. Even men, boys, girls and little children apply a dot of this powder on their forehead when they visit a temple or attend some religious function. However, for married Indian woman, it's is almost compulsory to apply Kumkum in the parting of their hair everyday. As per Hindu customs, she is supposed to cease wearing Sindur only after the demise of her husband.
In earlier times, women preferred to prepare Kumkum at home. Now, most of them buy the readymade Sindur from the market. Depending on what brand of Kumkum you are buying, the cost of one small box of Sindur varies from Rs. 5 to 20. A traditional component of the sindoor is powdered red lead and other ingredients are alum and turmeric. Another custom followed by married Hindu ladies of the country is to wear a bindi on their forehead. At times women apply a kumkum dot instead of the bindi.