In many cultures across the globe, ash has a special spiritual meaning.
VibHuti (or Holy Ash), also called Thiruneeru or Vibhooti, is a word that has several meanings in Hinduism. Generally, it is used to denote the sacred ash which is made of burnt dried wood in prayer ceremonies.
Appa, Amma or Thatha would put VibHuti on my forehead when I was a child. Several elders in the family would also put VibHuti on my forehead as they blessed me during festivals. I also got Vibhuti when I visited temples.
To carry the practice forward, I put VibHuti on the boys forehead.
I am not very religious. So, as the grown up me puts on Vibhuti on myself, it is a reminder of how fickle existence is as we know it is. It is a reminder to me not to take anything too damn seriously. It is a reminder that I’ll return to the dust one day.
Because I went to Catholic schools where the nuns taught me, I am alsofamilar with Ash Wednesday
“Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” (Eccl. 12:7).
“In Life, Hinduism asserts, that one should be humble and remember his status, that is of his Mortality.
Accepting Mortality wholeheartedly calls for great effort, and once you accept this, you would not behave in such a way that hurts others.
Because the Vibhuti represents the Ashes one’s Body is turned into after death, the applying of Vibhuti reminds one constantly of his mortality.”