Akher gur with kancha halud (sugarcane jaggery with raw turmeric root)
By Barnali Dutta December 21, 2013
"Turmeric" - The Spice of Life - "Let your food be your medicine." (Hippocrates)
In India, this ancient crop has been used as a "coloring agent", "a magic substance of daily life", "ornamental", "a substance of religious importance and medicine", "social ceremonies and rituals" in every nook and corner from birth to death, "cultural functions and folklore arts" much prior to the Indus valley civilization from ancient time are documented during ethnological survey. Turmeric is very popular among rice eating people as a condiment and spice and used as a natural dye f or weaving.
“I have found a plant that has all the qualities of Saffron, but it is a root.”
(Marco Polo on Turmeric, 1280 AD)
This magic substance is an anti-inflammatory, hypocholestraemic, choleratic, antimicrobial, antirheumatic, antifibrotic, antivenoumous, antiviral, antidiabetic, antihepatotoxic, and anticancerous. These properties are in day to day domestic use as a folklore medicine from time immemorial.
Ornamental use of Turmeric
- For natural beautification internally, daily intake of one inch size of fresh turmeric (kancha halud) with one teaspoon full of sugarcane jaggery (akher gur) or molasses should be followed. Turmeric should be chewed well. It purifies and nourishes the blood and skin so that the glow of health is not attenuated by blemishes and impurities but rather amplified through clarity.
- The classic way to apply Turmeric topically is as an Ubtan where you mix Turmeric with chick-pea flour, sesame or almond oil, a little fresh cream and honey.
- Turmeric was also used in the Chutti decorations on face for the famous classical dance Kathakali and Theyyam.
Turmeric - this substance has various religious importances.
Ancient India regarded the nature as their wealth attach considerable importance to spiritual advancement denoted as "sacred items" and good practices for health as "puja rituals". All rituals were significant about nature and health at that time e.g. necessity of availability of turmeric for the puja of sun god and sun-bath during puja rituals.
- In Orissa Raja Sankranti - the sowing festival, the idol is bathed in turmeric solution for purification.
- Shital Shasthi – the ritual of marriage festival lord Shiva and Parvati, idols are bathed after applying turmeric paste with arecanut and sandal wood daily during festival season. Puja offering also includes rice flakes, popped rice, coconut, roasted rice powder and toddy (a fermented drink extracted from coconut tree) along with turmeric powder.
- During kalamezhuthu paattu or thottem paattu in Kerala, the tilak, Karkidaka sankranthi (a malaylam festival), and Pongal – during all these harvest festivals the farmers do not allow anybody to disturb the turmeric crop before being offered to the Gods "Bhadrakali", "Muthappan", "Vishnmaya", "Ayyappan", "Chathan", and" Nagadaivam".
- The plant is used in Durga puja to represent nine form of Devi Durga, the nine plants (Nabapatrika) - the nine Goddesses. The Banana (Kola) plant represents Goddess Brahmani, Colacassia (Kochu) plant represents Goddess Kalika, Turmeric (Halud) plant symbolizes Devi Durga, Jayanti (Barley) denotes Kartiki, Wood Apple (Bael) denotes Lord Shiva, Pomegranate (Dalim) Raktadantika, Ashoka tree symbolizes Sokrahita, Arum plan or manaka (Maankochu) represents Devi Chamunda, and the Rice plant Goddess Lakshmi.
- For Kavus or sacred groves, for kalams pattu (made with turmeric, rice bran charcoal, green leaves, and raw rice powder), banyan tree ritual for Vat Savitri.
- It is used during Ganesh puja, to make a form of lord Ganesha by mixing turmeric with water.
- Gowri Habba or swarna gowri vratha for jalagauri or arishinadagauri (a symbolic idol of Gowri made of turmeric).
Turmeric related Folklore art of India
- The agri-folklore songs of Kerala namely Manjappattukal (yellow songs) and Vadakkan pattukal where turmeric are repeatedly mentioned.
- In Oriya this antiseptic agent is known as Krishna Kedara the ritual to protect the new born child from demons or evil sights and daily use of turmeric during Nov-Dec month to protect any person from enemies.
- In Kerala as a part of religious rights of hindu – poems "Thottem paattu" as a part of shakti worship offering to the goddess with the use of turmeric powder and paste.
- In many ghost stories in the Indian region combine with some elements the scent of burnt turmeric is also said ward the evil spirits off.
Social ceremonies and festival rituals (Importance of Turmeric)