You may know surma by its more common name: kohl. This eyeliner is the great-grandmother of the black self-sharpening eyeliner pencil that we all have in our makeup drawers. Eyeliner is actually an important part of a Hindu wedding ceremony: the kohl is viewed as something that can protect you from the evil eye (sometimes called the “nazzir”).
Brides usually satisfy the kohl requirement by lining their eyes in heavy black pencil, but most modern grooms are less interested in wearing makeup than their female counterparts. In their cases, you’ll sometimes see a black “x” drawn on their head, behind an ear, or a black dot in the same place. This has the same effect of warding off the evil eye and keeping the wedding ceremony lucky for the bride, groom, and their families and friends.