The tike is a mark of blessing from the gods. It is also an acknowledgment of the divine within us all.
In many pictures of Shiva (one of the greatest Hindu gods), he is seen with a third eye placed in the middle of his forehead. The tika symbolises this third eye.
Receiving a tika is a common part of most ceremonies, an acknowledgment of the divine presence of the occasion and an invocation of divine protection for those receiving it. Receiving a tika on arrival or departure is an indication of the respect and affection of the people involved.
During my short time in Nepalgunj I have managed to receive numerous tikas from my future colleagues and women’s groups. I find it to be a beautiful ceremony and appreciate the symbolism of the tika. However, I have also learned the usefulness of caring a small mirror in your purse – and never wear white under a tika ceremony.