Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Sambrani Benefits: For Babies, Hair Drying, Cold & Mosquitoes

 

If there is one tradition that I completely love and makes me feel very good is to use sambrani. Sambrani is called benzoin resin in English and it is the resin of a tree that is dried, powdered and sold in the markets, either as a powder or in blocks. Sambrani usage has been in the culture for many years and in fact every South Indian home will have sambrani holders that will be more than 100 years old. Many countries use sambrani, in Arab countries they use it directly and in some countries they use it in incense. You can also use it instead of sandalwood shavings as a base for making incense cones. To light up sambrani smoke, coal is collected in sambrani holder and the sambrani powder is sprinkled over it. I just love the smell of sambrani, it has a unique beautiful fragrance that is different from the normal incense sticks. The smell of sambrani transports me back in time and somehow fills me with peace and happiness. Even Ayurveda, advises us to use sambrani, as it calms the nerves, and produces tranquility, thus making the person ready for prayers. Years back women after having their hair wash, used to light up sambrani and keep a straw basket above it. The steam will seep out of the pores of the straw basket. If we keep our wet hair near the basket, it will dry it very soon and also leave a beautiful fragrant smell in our hair. Even if we have hair wash during winter months, if we use sambrani, we will not get a headache, especially if we have long, thick hair. I try to follow this tradition, once in a while. Sambrani is also used for babies, after children have their bath, sambrani is lit and brought in that room. This prevents them from catching a cold but make sure not to bring the smoke too near the babies, as it will make them cough. No auspicious day is complete without sambrani, sambrani is always lit during our prayers and rituals. Nowadays a new variety of sambrani called computer sambrani is available. This type does not need any coal, these are like cones made with sambrani, just light them like dhoops. Somehow, I hate them because they produce black smoke and smell so weird. I feel even if we light up sambrani once in a while, we should do it the proper and traditional way with coals. I regularly light up sambrani every Friday morning, take it to every room in the house, this tradition also wards of mosquitoes and cleanses the whole place. A person who is very good with siddha medicines suggested that I powder neem leaves and kungilium along with sambrani for using it around the home. After powdering it like that, I feel it is even more effective for warding of the mosquitoes. Every once in a while when you have plenty of time, take an oil bath, play some divine music, light up sambrani and dry your hair with it. Then you will understand why I am going on and on about sambrani so much :)

 


 METHOD:
1. This is sambrani powder, it comes as a block or like this in powder form. Use this as such for drying your hair, when using it keep a straw basket above the sambrani holder after sprinkling the sambrani powder. The fumes will seep through the pores, now you can dry your hair with the fumes. Keeping the straw basket prevents accidents and it also lets out fumes evenly.


2. For using it around the home, take fresh neem leaves, dry and powder them in a mixer. Now take sambrani, kungilium and add to the powdered neem leaves and powder together well. It need not be very fine, even if it is a bit coarse it is ok. To use, sprinkle the powder over hot coal and take it around the home.


3. To use sambrani holder, collect hot coal in sambrani holder, sprinkle little bit sambrani powder, it will start emitting smoke. Once the smoke stops, add some more sambrani powder. Also try to fan the coal periodically to prevent it from loosing it's heat.



 NOTES:
  • Once you open up a sambrani packet, store it in airtight box.
  • Sambrani holders are available every where, buy ones with a long handle else it will be difficult to hold it.
  • Usually sambrani holders are made of brass.
  • Light up sambrani at least weekly once and fill the whole house with the smoke. It will ward of mosquitoes, make the whole house smell divine.
  • Even for headaches, sambrani smoke is very good.
  • I will give full details about kungilium in future posts.

43 comments:

  1. Ramya it is an intregal part of bengali culture too. It amazes me how similar West Bengal and southern states are. We call it dhuno and our Durga pujo will be incomplete without it. Some dhuno infused agarbattis are also available in market for home worship but they some how fail to make the cut. my mum has a easy substitute for the burning coal. She uses( rather used) coconut fibre or coir.Will try out with coal too.

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  2. i love Sambrani! i use it for my pujas, as a bug repellent, use during Durga Puja (Bengali use it as Dhunuchhi). I use for South indian prayers and as well as Bengali prayers!

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  3. I guess Sambrani just warms up the place with a soothing fragrance. And thatz the reason people uses to dry their hair rather quickly. It might chase the mosquitoes for a while but the mosquitoes promptly return. So thatz just a temporary benefit.

    Someone said it helps with seasonal flu symptoms, kills airborne virus and bacterias and helps protect people of the same household to escape from further infection when one of them has already got it. Is that a myth? or is that true?

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    1. It mostly depends on the ingredients used along with sambrani. For example if it is mixed with neem leaves like mentioned in the post, it keeps the mosquitoes away for quite some time especially when done in the evenings (when the mosquitoes are plenty) and the smoke also prevents people from all the infections like you mentioned to an extent...

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  4. Is sambrani powder easily available in stores?
    Is this powder pure, I mean without any chemicals?
    Do you light the store bought powder or do you source the raw material and powder it yourself?
    If you do from where do you source it?

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    Replies
    1. We can get sambrani powder easily in all the shops. I always prefer to get the sambrani that comes in chunks without any additions and is generally very pure..

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  5. Hi Ramya,
    Is sambrani extracted from any plant or it prepared using chemicals?

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    Replies
    1. Hi, Sambrani is a resin obtained from the trees belonging to the Genus Styrax....

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  6. how to identify pure sambrani powder? yours is looking grayish white but i'm seeing powder sold that''s dark brown color. for how long is it good for?

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    1. Sabrani lasts well for years. The best way to source good sambrani powder is to buy it from government khadi shops....

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    2. how to tell its still good for use?

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    3. Check for the fragrance of the sambrani, if it still smells fresh you can continue using it...

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  7. yet what is the true color of sambrani?

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  8. is sambrani suggested to babys or not?

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    Replies
    1. You can use sambrani smoke for babies but please don't smoke the sambrani too close to the baby......

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  9. where to get the pure quality is it charcoal, coal or wood ash we sprinkle the sambrani on? i asked my temple to use it but they are not able to locate the materials needed to sprinkle it over on that is pure quality. they told the one they used is not good quality and not correct one for the sprinkling.

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    1. I am not sure where you get good quality charcoal for burning sambrani incense. Here in our village since we use our traditional wood burners, we use the coal from it for burning sambrani...

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    2. can you explain what you mean by traditional wood burners and how you obtain the charcoal from it? which specific tree wood you use that is safe?

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  10. hello..i read your article completly and it was very useful.....can you please tell me where can i get the safest sambrani .......

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    1. Hi Sushma, try for sambrani in government khadi shops....

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  11. what is hindi translation of sambrani.

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    1. I tried searching for the hindi name and in Hindi language also sambrani is mostly referred to as sambrani dhoop...

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  12. Hi, how do I light sambrani without coal? I have the brass spoon and the powder but no coal. :-/

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    1. It is hard to light sambrani without coal...

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  13. Hello Ramya, I really enjoyed your article. I too love the smell of Sambrani. It truely makes you feel positive and ready for prayers. I am just wondering, can you use it to bless/cleanse your home of negative energies etc? And to bless family members?

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    1. Sambrani does eradicate the negative energy that is why sambrani smoke is always used in all holy places and so does guggul resin, you can read about it in the blog too...

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  14. Thank you Ramya.

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  15. Hello Ramya, I am told that burning sambrani at home mixed with little of white mustard seeds is auspicious. Any comment on this ?
    Lakshmi Gopal, Bangalore

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    1. Hello sir, we have never used white mustard seeds along with sambrani smoke but burning sambrani in any form is auspicious as it is cleansing and purifying...

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  16. Thank you for writing this article, I was looking for ways to eliminate negative energy and bring positiveness at home and came across the usage of frankincense and I was sure we in India would have something better as our traditions are so meaningful and landed on your blog. I am in the USA now and I see many people practicing Yoga and other Indian traditions to stay calm and healthy, I feel so proud at the same time feel bad that I did not realize our values when I was there. You are doing a good job in creating this awareness.. All the best :)

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  17. Hi
    I wonder how to burn sambrani without coal ?
    That little quantity of coal is not available .Coconut husk is not great instigator of fire .
    Any ideas pl

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  18. I am sorry I don't know any other way to light up sambrani other than coal...

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  19. Madem
    I am sri lanka and i like to make sambrani at home but finding raw materials are very difficult in here.please help me. Reply me on roshan211info@gmail.com

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    Replies
    1. Sambrani is a natural resin and we can't make it at home. If what you are referring to is computer sambrani, I don't have any idea about the exact recipe. I just know that they use charcoal, saw dust along with sambrani and few other ingredients....

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  20. what specific tree does charcoal come from for the sambrani...a charcoal in which no carbon monoxide or unsafe situation is produced?
    many hardwood charcoals i have come across produce carbon monoxide and warn it should not be used indoors.

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    1. In our village usually waste wood is collected and made into charcoal. Since I live in a coconut farm, we always use coconut husks that is found in the farm for smoking sambrani ....

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  21. 1. traditionally which woods from which tree are safe?
    2. what exactly is done to your coconut husks to make it a matter we can burn sambrani over? or you just set the raw unprocessed husk on fire then sprinkle it over?

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    1. You can use any wood for burning sambrani. We light up the dried coconut husks along with dried coconut leaves so it lights easily for boiling water in huge pots. Once it burns and starts smoldering we take it in sambrani holder and sprinkle sambrani...

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  22. i think naatu karuvelam was used only. not seemai karuvelam. seemai not good.

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  23. can we light a small piece of pasu varatti, blow out the fire, let it smoke then sprinkle it over?

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