Chess genius R Praggnanandhaa, who beat world chess champion Magnus Carlsen in Chessable Masters, recently had to face a curious question from an international reporter.
"Some of our viewers are very curious about the mark in your forehead, the white mark. Can you tell me what that means for you," the reporter asked Praggnanandhaa in a video that has been doing rounds on Twitter.
Visibly taken aback, Praggnanandhaa took his time to respond. "I do it because my mother asked me to do it very early on. It's just my practice, I do it every day," he said.
On being asked if it brings luck, the chess genius said, "I'm not sure," as onlookers laughed. "Sometimes, sometimes not," Praggnanandhaa added.
The chess genius immediately figured in his head that explaining this will invite more dumb questions, which will waste his time. So he gave the reporter a lollipop and left. pic.twitter.com/WgbOq8XJ1l
— Gabbbar (@GabbbarSingh) May 31, 2022
Meanwhile, Twitter was not impressed with the questions the chess genius was asked.
"It’s very evident that the Tilak on the forehead is related to religion. It’s 2022, Indians are in all corners of the world. So a “what it is” is ignorant but still pardonable but a “why it is” is just the Western gaze questioning paganism. We are polite & we move on," commented Abhishek Asthana, co-founder of social media start-up Zorro.
Twitter user Rao PM said, "To even pronounce 'vibhuthi' for a westerner would be quite difficult. So best to leave without too much explanation. My faith, my belief, very personal, period!"
Many, however, wondered if Praggnanandhaa knew the cultural significance of the vibhuti or chose to avert explaining it to the reporter.
don't know if it was a great answer. He should have said in our tradition, it is a reminder to us we rise from ashes and end in ashes. It is a reminder of the mortality of humans. The Catholics celebrate ash wed during lent which is on the same principleṣ.
— Lilavati (@lilavat62728733) May 30, 2022
I guess parent's often don't tell the story or meaning behind rituals. So next gen don't learn. Becomes a mechanical ritual separated from meaning.
— gg (@gautam_gg) May 30, 2022
That's actually an issue. Parents should explain the importance of the tilak or chandan that is put on forehead.. ma ne bola isliye kiya works till one is a teenager.. not after that..
— freelancerightwinger (@kabiiraspeaking) May 30, 2022
Definitely he knows the reason, but anything he says will be dissected and contadicted, so was diplomatic in his answer, very good
— bsk (@fanbulb) May 31, 2022
Last week, Praggnandhaa had beaten world number one Magnus Carlsen, number 10 Anish Giri and number 22 Wei Yi at the Chessable Masters. He made it to the final against world number two Ding Liren but lost the title-clash in the blitz tiebreak.