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Of late, Turmeric Lattes have become very popular in the US and across the globe.  Instagram is filled with pictures of this calling it a cure for many ailments.  The fact is true, but this fact has been known in India since times immemorial.

Turmeric, as you know, is a common ingredient in India.  It is used as a spice in the kitchen, as a cosmetic by Indian women and as an ingredient in Traditional medicine like Ayurveda.  It is also used in various rituals and traditions across India

Turmeric and its ingredients

The Golden spice is an underground stem and hence called a Rhizome.  This is dried and pounded to get the yellow color powder.It has a light bitter taste.  It has chemicals called curcumin and curcuminoid that give its anti-inflammatory and other qualities.

Some Special uses of this Golden Spice in India

  • Cooking

Turmeric has a mild taste.  It is used to for color and its antioxidant and antibacterial property.Due to this, at least a pinch of this herb is put in most of the dishes cooked in India.

mangalsutra photoPhoto by meaduva

Turmeric is not added to cooking at functions that take place due to grief or loss.  This herb is used in cooking only after the mourning period is over.

 Healing Properties

Turmeric is known to purify blood and heal skin problems.  It is used to cure a cold as it helps the lungs to expel the Kapha or mucous.   It is heated with a glass of milk and taken at night for best effect.

It is antiseptic, antiallergic, antioxidant, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. Sometimes it is dressed on wounds of children after a fall.  The above properties help heal the wound at the earliest. Haldi, as it is known is Hindi, is believed to prevent heart attacks, dissolve fat to lower cholesterol, solve impotency problems and reduce the severity of Asthma and Bronchitis.  It is also believed to purify the blood. This herb has also been used widely in preparing Ayurveda and other traditional medicines.   Medicines using this wonder spice is prescribed to cure digestive problems as well.

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As a Cosmetic

Women have used this herb as a cosmetic since ages hoping for that elusive golden glow.  They apply it as a face pack and for religious purposes on their Mangalsutra etc.  This cosmetic is believed to remove unnecessary hair if used daily.

Centuries ago….

In ancient times, it was called golden spice and was associated with Suraj or the Sun god due to its colour.  Turmeric was and is still used in various rituals for spiritual cleansing and Fertility.

Rituals and Traditions

Turmeric photoPhoto by Ben Chun

Turmeric is used during wedding rituals in most parts of the country.  The day before the marriage,  all the womenfolk of the family come and apply Turmeric paste on the Bride and groom.  Done at their respective homes, this ritual relaxes the would-be couples of nervousness.

mangalsutra photoPhoto by kmkeshav

The Mangalsutra itself is gold ornament strung with a thread which is dipped in Turmeric paste. This is tied around the Bride’s neck to denote marriage between two individuals.  If a person is so poor that he is not able to buy gold, he can string this holy thread around a dried turmeric piece and tie as Mangalsutra.  This is  Mangalsutra is equal and significant as the Golden one!

This ceremony of applying turmeric is done also done during Baby showers and the Punul or Thread ceremony.

A Yellow pinch is always made on all Invitation cards, especially from Hindus to denote happiness.  If you receive a card without this mark, it means grief or loss has been experienced by the giver.

Prayer and worship

Most women apply this herb mixed with water on a daily basis.  This is followed especially on auspicious days of the week like Tuesday and Friday.  The Goddess idols in temples are decked with this paste and emit a Golden yellow glow on such days.

See Also -   Significance of Saffron color in India

A Pooja or Yagna is never complete without worshipping Lord Ganesh.  Lord Ganesh is made using Turmeric on such occasions and the first prayers are offered to this small idol.

Turmeric has been used in India since the Vedic age.  It has seeped into our subconscious and has found more uses than just a Turmeric Latte that the world is just discovering.

Cover photo by outscribe

The Golden Spice Turmeric And Its Importance In Indian Culture

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