Bhasma| Vibhuthi | Thiruneer refers to the holy ash or sacred ash used by Hindus. Holy ash is applied on the forehead to remind us always of the impermanence of our life. The act of applying holy ash always remind us that this world is maya and since we always are reminded of our impermanence, we don’t get too attached to worldly things. Applying holy ash on our forehead has these wonderful benefits 1. It increases the positive energy. The smell, the act of applying it, the chanting before it, everything increases the positive energy. 2. Applying holy ash prevents headaches. It prevents allergies on the skin especially if it is made with different herbs. 3. Applying holy ash is said to regulate all the 7 chakras in the body which is the basis for good health 4. Thiruneer also prevents cold and is very good for preventing all cold related headaches. 5. It always reminds of the impermanence of our lives, my grandma used to tell me that the thought that we are here in this world for a short span of time will decrease our worldly desires and increase compassion for others. Though we can get perfumed vibhuti from the shops, as usual I prefer to make my own. Traditionally to make the vibhuthi, we use karukkai (semi grown paddy grains) from the paddy fields. They are are usually discarded and we use it to make the holy ash. To make the holy ash, cow dung is made into balls, flattened and sun dried well. Then on an auspicious day they are layered with karukkai and hay till they are about 6 to 7 feet in height. After the prayers and chanting, fire is lit, it burns for several days. The hay retains the heat and the karukkai prevents it from burning instantly which results in white ash which is collected after several days. But to make the vibhooti, cow dung that is got from organic grass fed native cows should be used. We usually store holy ash in a special wooden box called thiruneer poti which is usually passed on from generation to generation. But since it will be difficult for many to collect cow dung and do the whole process, I thought I will share an alternate method. Usually bhasma refers to ash that is got by burning different ingredients and it can be used internally or externally. For eg, swarna bhasma is prepared form gold, godanti bhasma is prepared from gypsum, shankh bhasma is prepared from conch shell, mandur bhasma is prepared from iron oxide and vanga bhasma is prepared from tin. These are all very important ayurvedic preparations that is used internally for treating different illness and should only be consumed under the strict supervision of an experienced ayurvedic practitioner. For external application like I mentioned before using cow dung is one way and the other is using the ash after doing homam (pooja ceremony). For example, I collected the ash after ayush homam, for the ritual 9 different herbs and more than 54 herbal ingredients were used. The ash of all these various herbs have wonderful healing properties and this is the one I used for my son when he was a baby. The ash collected is not white in color like made with cow dung but it has wonderful medicinal properties…
1. These are some of the dried herbs used in the homam. I am sorry for not taking pictures of all the ingredients, I didn’t want to disturb others during the pooja…
2. During the pooja the ingredients are offered along with pure ghee accompanied by holy chanting.
3. The pooja went on for almost 3 to 4 hours. Once the pooja is finished, let the ash cool overnight.
4.Take a thin muslin cloth and tie it taut around a vessel using a rope.
6. Take the ash and place it on the taut cloth and rub it gently around to get a fine powder.
7. The resulting mixture should be as fine as this.
- If you don’t do these poojas at home, you can easily get the ash from your friends or neighbors when they do the pooja in their home, every one will be more than willing to share it.
- Holy ash lasts for years without getting spoilt.
- Try to sieve it only through a thin muslin cloth to get a very very fine mixture.
- You can use this vibhuthi for young kids too..
- You can use the ash of any homam.