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.

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60 Comments

  1. Aparna Roy
    November 5, 2014 / 4:50 pm

    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.

  2. navinpigeon
    December 18, 2014 / 11:15 pm

    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!

  3. Anonymous
    October 26, 2015 / 3:11 am

    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?

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      October 31, 2015 / 3:57 pm

      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…

  4. Anonymous
    December 2, 2015 / 3:18 pm

    thanks shared

  5. Ruchita Ashok
    December 18, 2015 / 1:31 am

    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?

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      December 25, 2015 / 12:56 am

      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..

  6. rashu eswar
    March 1, 2016 / 10:22 am

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

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      March 20, 2016 / 6:23 am

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

  7. Anonymous
    March 14, 2016 / 5:24 pm

    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?

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      March 21, 2016 / 8:44 am

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

    • Anonymous
      March 21, 2016 / 3:15 pm

      how to tell its still good for use?

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      April 17, 2016 / 3:14 pm

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

  8. Anonymous
    March 21, 2016 / 3:14 pm

    yet what is the true color of sambrani?

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      April 17, 2016 / 3:12 pm

      Sambrani is usually brown in color…

  9. Unknown
    March 27, 2016 / 4:32 am

    is sambrani suggested to babys or not?

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      May 14, 2016 / 5:27 am

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

  10. Anonymous
    May 3, 2016 / 3:27 pm

    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.

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      June 6, 2016 / 1:03 pm

      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…

    • Anonymous
      September 15, 2016 / 8:33 pm

      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?

  11. sushma
    July 28, 2016 / 2:27 pm

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

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      August 17, 2016 / 4:37 pm

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

  12. Anonymous
    July 31, 2016 / 2:12 pm

    what is hindi translation of sambrani.

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      August 18, 2016 / 4:43 am

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

    • Anonymous
      March 7, 2017 / 6:35 pm

      Is it not the resin from the Saal tree?

    • Subramani Panchanatham
      March 4, 2018 / 6:31 am

      It is called as Loban

  13. Anonymous
    August 17, 2016 / 1:31 pm

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

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      September 6, 2016 / 2:32 pm

      It is hard to light sambrani without coal…

    • Saji
      March 10, 2018 / 6:29 pm

      If you have the outer thick wood like cover of the coconut burnt. You will the coal you can use that to burn sambarani to produce smoke.

  14. Anonymous
    August 18, 2016 / 1:25 pm

    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?

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      August 18, 2016 / 6:10 pm

      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…

  15. Anonymous
    August 18, 2016 / 10:44 pm

    Thank you Ramya.

  16. Mathur Gopalkrishnan
    August 23, 2016 / 3:03 pm

    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

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      August 25, 2016 / 4:31 am

      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…

  17. Vijay Urs
    September 3, 2016 / 1:55 am

    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 🙂

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      September 3, 2016 / 9:33 am

      Thanks lot….:)

  18. Sundar Raman
    September 5, 2016 / 4:51 am

    HiI 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

    • Anonymous
      February 10, 2018 / 7:22 pm

      Since in cities we are not able to get coals, my mom used to keep an empty coconut shell in the gas stove and as soon as it catches fire remove from stove and keep it on sambrani holder.. it burns completely and give u good amount of coal for sambrani… But be cautious while doing this as it is very risky..

  19. Ramya Venkateshwaran
    September 6, 2016 / 2:31 pm

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

  20. roshan lakmal
    September 13, 2016 / 1:03 am

    MademI 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

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      September 15, 2016 / 3:01 pm

      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….

  21. Anonymous
    September 15, 2016 / 8:30 pm

    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.

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      September 23, 2016 / 4:22 pm

      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 ….

  22. Anonymous
    October 3, 2016 / 8:03 pm

    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?

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      October 7, 2016 / 4:31 pm

      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…

  23. Anonymous
    October 17, 2016 / 4:51 pm

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

  24. Anonymous
    October 17, 2016 / 4:56 pm

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

  25. nandha lala
    February 9, 2017 / 12:59 pm

    usually the agarbatti are small in size you can burn completely if the smoke is too much you open your windows if you house is big the one single bathi will be best. Check out more information here if you want http://sarathi.com/

  26. miki
    March 22, 2017 / 5:22 am

    Hi Ramya,I am interested in trying this out at home. I will take the coal from the clothes iron person/ dhobi. Could you please explain the procedure to light the coal at home? Will it be possible over stove?Thank you for taking the time out to reply!Best!

  27. miki
    March 22, 2017 / 5:22 am

    Hi Ramya,I am interested in trying this out at home. I will take the coal from the clothes iron person/ dhobi. Could you please explain the procedure to light the coal at home? Will it be possible over stove?Thank you for taking the time out to reply!Best!

  28. Raghuveer
    May 16, 2017 / 6:13 am

    Sambrani keeps the mosquitoes away !! we should all switch to sambrani instead off the chemical mosquito repellants !!

  29. Soniya
    May 16, 2017 / 6:15 am

    I have asthma. Do I use sambrani? will it aggravate my condition?

  30. ABHIJIT
    June 24, 2017 / 7:13 pm

    We have a new born baby at home and my mother who has used sambrani for me and my brother n sister when we were babies ,continues to use it for this new born baby now after it takes bath but my sister in law who thinks it will affect the babies health by suffocating and doesn't want my mother to do it. I just want to know is my mother who has done it for years is correct or my sister in law is correct who is assuming n interpreting things ??? Plz tell

    • ABHIJIT
      June 24, 2017 / 7:17 pm

      My name is abhijit purohit from Bangalore.my number is 9886604238

    • ABHIJIT
      June 24, 2017 / 7:18 pm

      My name is abhijit purohit from Bangalore.my number is 9886604238

  31. varsha raichur
    July 8, 2017 / 8:59 am

    Hello RamyaSuch a wonderful blog. I accidentally came across it. Thanks for sharing such useful information.

  32. varsha raichur
    July 8, 2017 / 9:08 am

    Hello RamyaSuch a wonderful blog. I accidentally came across it. Thanks for sharing such useful information.

  33. Pradeep
    October 20, 2017 / 7:41 pm

    is sambrani and kungilium are same

  34. Swathi
    February 9, 2018 / 7:02 am

    Hello,Thought of sharing this info with you. Sivachaariyaar Dr.B.Rajasekhar answers viewers questions mon – fri 10.30 pm on Sri sankara tv channel- programme Siva ragasiyam. He happened to give names of ingredients for preparing saambraani – y/day 7th february 2018, used in olden days, when there were no mirrors, newspapers etc,,, He said acc to saasthras, fumes from saambraani using these items eradicates any invisible harmful bacterias & virus, gives long life and brings prosperity / wealth. He added, goddess mahalakshmi likes this aromatic fumes whereas lord yama dislikes sound of conch and these fumes…. & the timings for using saambraani twice daily is between 4.30 to 6 in the morning and 4.30 to 6 in the evening… The items are exactly in the order as told by the sivachaariyaar.1) Kadugu 2) Perungaayam3) Kothamalli4) Adhimaduram5) Karun kungiliyam குங்கிலியம் (black kunguliyam) 6) Venn kungiliyam வெள்ளை குங்கிலியம் (white kunguliyam)7) Ver kombu8) Thulasi9) Sembatti10) Velerukku வெள்ளெருக்கு11) Aghil12) Devadaaru 13) Pei pudal பேய்புடல்14) Vasambu – sweet flag15) Karpooram16) Sandhanam

    • Saji
      March 10, 2018 / 6:37 pm

      Awesome Swati let's try

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