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Sticker Pottu

பொட்டு

The ‘sticker pottu’ is a circular piece of felt with a self-adhesive backing. It is sold in shades of red and in black, and varying sizes.
The red pottu, as a stand-in for kungumam (red powder made from turmeric and slaked lime), may be reserved for married women.
Muslim and Christian Tamil women may refrain from the plain red or black pottu, but some may don more colourful designs as accessory.

(Image courtesy of Anuja Varaprasad)

‘ஸ்டிக்கர் பொட்டு’ என்பது ஒரு வட்ட வடிவான, பசையுள்ள, அட்டை போன்று தயாரிக்கப்பட்ட கம்பளி துண்டு. இது சிவப்பு மற்றும் கருப்பு நிற நிழல்களிலும், மாறுபட்ட அளவுகளிலும் விற்கப்படுகிறது.

திருமணமான பெண்கள், குங்குமத்திற்கு (மஞ்சள் மற்றும் வெட்டப்பட்ட சுண்ணாம்பிலிருந்து தயாரிக்கப்படும் சிவப்பு தூள்) பதிலாக, சிவப்பு பொட்டை அணியலாம்.

பொதுவாக, இஸ்லாமிய மற்றும் கிறிஸ்துவ தமிழ் பெண்கள் சிவப்பு அல்லது கருப்பு பொட்டை அணிவதை தவிர்ப்பார்கள். ஆனால் சிலர், வண்ணமயமான வடிவமைப்பு கொண்ட பொட்டுகளை அணிய விரும்புவார்கள்.

Notes

While the pottu is an obvious identity marker for Tamil women, it is also a point of misunderstanding, ridicule and stereotype. The pottu is also representative of an internal personal journey—being excited to wear it as a child, rejecting it in school, reluctantly wearing a small one when being forced to and finally embracing it, whatever the size and colour. It is also a signifier of when and where I choose to exert my identity as a Tamil woman. (Anuja)

The pottu symbolized the skin of indian-ness that I would don to appease my grandma, and remove when I wanted to blend in when I went to school or went out with friends. I don't think people realise how symbolic one tiny dot on your forehead can be, when no one around you is wearing it. Not wearing the pottu was me subconsciously wanting to gain common ground with my fellow (mostly Chinese) Singaporeans calling out “see I'm just like you. I'm not Indian, I can relate to you" which is messed up. It became the symbol of me putting my Indian-ness aside to appear more palatable and relatable to the majority, minimizing the chance of them seeing me as an Other. (Asha)

When I think of sticker pottu, I also think of how bedroom or toilet mirrors become a permanent gallery of sorts for used ones. (Angelina)

Does this object also animate your life and identity? Does it affirm, confuse, or implicitly underline your identity and sense of self? Briefly tell us how this object speaks to you personally.

‘Singaporean Tamil Women’ are especially encouraged to leave comments. All others are also welcome to comment.

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