Followers of Vaishnavism
mark their foreheads with different styles of tilak
to show that they are servants of Vishnu
. The markings are made either as a daily ritual, or on special occasions, and denote which particular lineage, or sampradaya
the devotee belongs to. The different Vaishnava sampradayas each have their own distinctive style of tilak based on the siddhanta
of their particular lineage. The general tilak pattern is of two or more vertical lines resembling the letter U, which commonly represents the foot of Vishnu.
In the Vallabha
, Rudra-sampradaya the tilak
worn is a double vertical red line which is rounded from base. This "U" represents Purna Purushottama Shri Krishna's lotus feet who is the only form of god worshipped in the Vallabha sampradaya.
sampradaya mark two vertical lines representing Krishna's 'lotus feet'. In between a vertical black line is made from the daily coal of the 'yajna
-kunda' (fire sacrifice). In this sampradaya, the process of worship involves 'nitya-homa', or daily fire sacrifices to Narayana or Krishna. The remnant coal
of the puja
(worship) is used each day to mark the forehead. Underneath the black line, a yellow or red dot is added to indicate either Lakshmi
. Those who did not perform daily fire sacrifice wear the simple two line tilak only.