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Mansi Khandelwal

IWB Blogger

This Book For Children Explores Traditional Gender Notions Through Mother’s Bindi

  • IWB Post
  •  November 14, 2017


Originally indicative of obedience to Hindu tradition and Indian culture, the Bindi is a sacred symbol of Indian womanhood. A simple colored dot worn by women is attached to several religious and spiritual connotations.

Exploring the queer South Asian themes and traditions, author Vivek Shraya’s picture book is creating space in the world of children’s literature for South Asian kids who don’t impute to traditional notions of gender expression.


The Boy & The Bindi by Shraya tells the story of a young boy who becomes fascinated with his mother’s bindi. Author Vivek Shraya told The Huffington Post that while there is a growing market for books that feature the lives and stories of gender-creative kids, few of these cater to the experiences of brown children. She wanted to use the bindi to explore notions of gender expression among South Asian children.


“A few years ago, when I started wearing a bindi in public, I noted the ways it would elicit staring. I found it bizarre and fascinating that even a dot on a forehead is gendered and consequently discomforting when worn by someone who is seemingly the wrong gender,” Shraya told The Huffington Post. “I was excited about writing a story that not only pushed against this discomfort but that also featured a supportive parent… it has been my experience that being brown has room for queerness in ways that Western culture does not.”


Shraya hopes to reflect the lives of gender creative children and their identities in the pages of this picture book. She also intends to encourage all children to “treasure and celebrate their own symbols and feelings of difference.”



The Boy & The Bindi is illustrated by Rajni Parera.

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