April 17, 2014
The weather is finally starting to warm up which means summer and music festival season is soon upon us. Music festivals are known for their variety of music acts and prevalence of camping, alcohol, drugs, dancing, and often privileged white people decked out in Native American and Hindu influenced garb.
This past weekend was the start of Coachella, an annual music fest in Indio, California. Every year celebrities, teenagers and young 20-somethings alike flock to the desert to celebrate. Coachella is one of the largest and most well-known fests and as such garners the attention of A-list celebrities like Justin Bieber. So it’s surprising that many don’t seem to have a publicist who will warn them against offensively imitating other cultures.
Coachella is known for the bohemian eccentric dress of its attendees, but it crosses the line from cute and trendy to offensive when you put Native American headdresses and bindis into the mix. Both Native American headdresses and bindis hold strong spiritual meanings and are sacred in their respective cultures.
In Native American culture you must earn the right to wear a headdress. They are only worn by the brave and powerful. Each of the feathers in the headdress stands for a time when the warrior did something courageous to help or protect the tribe. It can best be compared to military medals–you don’t wear them as an accessory, but rather you have to earn them. And no white girl or guy attending music festivals will ever earn the right to a headdress.
In Hindu culture the bindi holds great religious significance. The bindi is an ornamental mark worn between the two eyebrows. In Hinduism, this is where the sixth chakra is located. It is worn to retain energy and control levels of concentration. It is also known as the third eye and the flame.
Hindu statesman, Rajan Zed released a statement in regard to the recent spike in bindis being worn as stylish accessories. To summarize, he made it clear that bindis are an ancient tradition and significant spiritual symbol and not to be worn frivolously as another fashion trend.
White privilege is the ignorance of other cultures and thousands of white people gathering in a desert donning headdresses and bindis is the epitome of it. Spiritual and religious symbols shouldn’t be worn as a means to look exotic.