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Traditional Method of Coconut Oil Extraction: Asha Devi Varma’s Quest to revive it

Asha Devi Varma, a retired agricultural officer in Kerala, is trying to revive the traditional method of coconut oil extraction.

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Asha Devi Varma at her residence in Kerala. Image Source : thehindu.com
  • Asha Devi Varma, a retired officer in Kerala, is trying to revive the traditional method of coconut oil extraction
  • She is doing so with the help of advice from doctors and Ayurveda experts and local women who help her with daily preparations
  • Her business is small but the products are highly recommended by doctors

In the recent years, the growing demand of coconut and the health benefits attached to it has led companies experiment with it and make it fancier day by day. The coconut products have become commercialized to a large extent- seasoning for desserts, for making quirky cocktails, drinks- commercialization has made everything profitable for the coconut industry. However, the original process of extracting virgin coconut oil has almost disappeared from the households of Kerala.

Asha Devi Varma is a retired agricultural officer who is attempting to revive the natural process of coconut oil extraction in Kerala. Previously, women used to process coconut to extract the virgin oil naturally at home through a process called velichenna kaachiyathu which protected the goodness of the oil.

Coconut oil, extracted naturally. Image Source : thehindu.com
Coconut oil, extracted naturally. Image Source : thehindu.com

After having retired from service, Asha Devi was not ready to live the life of a retiree. She wanted to do something to make a difference. She went over to young housewives and asked them if they knew the process of extracting coconut oil from coconuts. She was surprised to discover that none of the women of the current generation know anything about the process of extraction. “It came as a surprise to me but none of the women from this generation knew the way coconut oil is extracted traditionally, something that their grandmothers would have done routinely,” said Asha to The Hindu. So she contacted some elderly ladies and Ayurveda experts to get a firsthand experience of the process.

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After having learnt the process, she brought in young ladies from the local area to start learning it. The initial phase was difficult since it was a delicate process and it was impossible to get it right on the first try. So, the phase of trial and error went on for some time until the art was perfected by them. Now, Asha Devi and her local women prepare homemade baby oil, cooking oil and beauty oil and sell, locally. She gets about 10-12 litres of coconut oil shipped from Lakshadweep to Kerala. Her business has become quite successful.

Coconut milk. Image Source : coconut-info.net
Coconut milk. Image Source : coconut-info.net

Even though her business is small, it is highly recommended by doctors for babies and their mothers. “Coconut milk has contents that are found in mother’s milk. Its properties are good for hair and skin,” Asha Devi told The Hindu. She further asserted regarding the coconut oil, that, “A couple of spoons taken orally is supposed to heal the body after childbirth. The beauty oil gives a healthy skin. This is traditional knowledge”.

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Asha Devi is thrilled at the way her business is progressing. Her happiness is not just because of the profits or contacts that they are gaining but it is partly because she has succeeded in reviving the traditional method of coconut oil extraction and processing. Her initiative and perseverance are commendable, indeed.

-prepared by Atreyee Sengupta, an intern at NewsGram.

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Five Ayurvedic Home Remedies for Hair Fall | Newsgram

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home remedies for hair fall
Amla (Indian Gooseberry). Pixabay

Oct 09, 2017: If you are in stress these days due to continuous hair fall, you will get effective treatment in Ayurveda. There are many Ayurvedic herbs that can be used to reduce problems of hair loss.

Five easy ayurvedic home remedies for hair fall

Bhringraj

home remedies for hair fall
Bhringraj. Wikimedia

Bhringraj is believed to be of great importance in Ayurveda for strong and dense hair. Bhrigraj oil not only fights baldness but also premature grey hair.

Brahmi

home remedies for hair fall
Bhrami. Wikimedia

Making a pack of Brahmi and Yoghurt and applying on the hair will reduce hair loss. On regular massage from Brahmi oil, hair grows voluminous.

Amla

home remedies for hair fall
Amla. Pixabay

Vitamin C and antioxidants in Amla are rich in abundance which helps in growing hair. Make a pack by mixing Amla with Hina, Brahmi Powder, and Yoghurt and apply on the hair.

Reetha

home remedies for hair fall
Reetha. Wikimedia

The use of reetha helps in keeping hair black and dense.

Neem

home remedies for hair fall
Ripe fruits of Neem. Wikimedia

Neem is not only used to make hair thick but also to reduce problems like dandruff and lice. Make neem powder and massage it by adding curd or coconut oil to the root of the hair.

Also Read: 10 Ayurvedic Herbs That Are A Boon to Mankind| Newsgram 

Prepared by Naina Mishra of Newsgram. Twitter @Nainamishr94

 

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10 Ayurvedic Herbs That Are A Boon to Mankind| Newsgram

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Ayurvedic herbs
Shatavari. Wikimedia

Oct 08, 2017: The supreme tradition of Ayurveda has been considered as universal and eternal. Ayurvedic herbs have been in use since the ancient times. This statement of Charaka sage (one of the principal contributors to Ayurveda in ancient India) is completely true – Life is the combination of body, senses, mind and reincarnating soul. Ayurveda is the most sacred science of life, beneficial to humans both in this world and world beyond. The effect of this is that even today Ayurvedic method has settled in our hearts in some form.

We hear in our everyday life that we are told to take celery when there is abdominal pain or gas. When there is cold and cough, it is said that do not drink cold water, take ginger, basil, black pepper tea. All this is part of Ayurveda directed by the elderly. After all, that time is returning now when not only the leaders of the country but people of the whole world have not only accepted Ayurvedic medicine and its authenticity but also have adopted.

Here is a list of 10 Indian Ayurvedic Herbs:

Gritkumari (Aloe Vera)

Gritkumari/Ayurvedic herbs. Pixabay

This strange looking plant or ayurvedic herb has no end to its beneficial properties. Gritkumari or Aloe Vera helps in diabetes, uterine disease, stomach upset, joint pain, skin malfunction, acne, wrinkles, facial scars, dark circles of eyes, torn ankles. 

Shatavari (Asparagus)

Shatavari
Shatavari/Ayurvedic Herbs. Pixabay

Shatavari is called Asparagus in English and its botanical. It is a medicinal plant (one of the indian ayurvedic herbs known as “reproductive tonic”) found in India, which is used in the treatment of countless diseases. Shatavari is sometimes also translated as “she who possesses 100 husbands.” The plant is known to enhance the fertility of both male and female. It promotes lactation in women.

Bhringraj (False Daisy)

Bhringraj/Ayurvedic herbs. Wikimedia

Bhringraj is considered a herb for longevity and rejuvenation. It works wonders for hair and cirrhosis. It also rejuvenates memory, teeth, bones, vision, and hearing. This plant is native to India and Southwest America.

Ashwagandha (Indian ginseng)

Ashwagandha plant/Ayurvedic herbs. Wikimedia

Ashwagandha or Indian ginseng has been very important in ancient Indian medicine, Ayurveda. It is a herb that has been used for many centuries. In an effort to stay away from many types of infection, it has also been used by native Americans and Africans. This herb originated in India and it grows best in dry areas. Ashwagandha is very beneficial for those who are always feeling lazy. Laziness ends with its consumption.

Giloy (Tinospora Cordifolia)

Giloy/Ayurvedic herbs. Wikimedia

Giloy is known as the ‘root of immortality’. Giloy has been called Amrita due to its richness. Giloy enhances the body’s immune system and eliminates blood loss in the body. Giloy’s intake is also very beneficial in jaundice. 

Methi (Fenugreek)

Methi/Ayurvedic Herbs. Wikimedia

Fenugreek is a very famous herb and due to its unparalleled medicinal properties, it is also used in Ayurveda very popularly. Fenugreek is also found in high quantities of minerals, such as iron, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, and copper. Apart from this, it also contains Vitamin B 6. Effective antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic and antiviral properties are found in fenugreek seeds. Fenugreek seeds are used for cooking as well as for medicinal purposes. The seeds of fenugreek are known for a sharp flavor and fragrance.

Tulsi (Basil)

Tulsi plant/Ayurvedic herbs. Pixabay

Basil not only holds religious significance but also has many health benefits. Many scientific researches confirm the properties present in Tulsi. In India, the medicinal properties of Tulsi are highly valued. Chewing leaves of Tulsi with ginger gives relief from a cough and cold. Boil the basil with tea leaves and remove a sore throat.

Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri)

Bhrami/Ayurvedic herbs. Wikimedia

In addition to the intelligence, memory, Brahmi is used for many health problems. This medicine has great importance in Ayurveda. Brahmi is green and white. All parts of the Brahmi plant are useful. As far as possible, Brahmi should be used freshly. The effect of Brahmi is mainly on the mind. It is a tonic for the brain and also gives peace to it. If there is a decrease in the efficiency of the person after the strenuous work, then the use of Brahmin has a great advantage.

Arjuna (Terminalia arjuna)

Arjuna plant/Ayurvedic herbs. Wikimedia

It is a medicinal tree and is found supreme among the medicines used in cardiovascular diseases in Ayurveda. Arjun tree is being used in Ayurveda for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases since ancient times.

Tagar (Valeriana wallichii)

Tagar plant/Ayurvedic herbs. Wikimedia

Tagar plant is one of the most important herbs in Ayurvedic medicine system for sleeping disorders. It is also known as Indian Valerian. It is used in Ayurveda, for treating brain-related disorders such as insomnia, hysteria, nervous unrest, and emotional troubles. 

Prepared by Naina Mishra of Newsgram. Twitter @Nainamishr94

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10 Customs of the Hindu Dharma Explained by Science

Have you ever wondered the rationale behind the customs and traditions of the Hindu dharma?

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Hindu dharma
A deeper look into the practices of Hindu dharma reveal that they are based on scientific knowledge. We tell you how! Pixabay

New Delhi, October 4, 2017 : You might have been moved by the way followers of the Hindu dharma bow down and welcome you inside their homes. Or by the way Hindu women dress, with jewellery adorning their hands and legs. Who doesn’t like the crinkling of their bangles, after all? But have you ever wondered the rationale behind their customs and traditions?

According to popular notions, the traditions and practices of the Hindu dharma have been equated with superstitions. However, a deeper look into the practices reveal that they are based on scientific knowledge and have been observed over generations , keeping in mind a more holistic approach.

Hinduism can hence, be called a dharmic scientific religion rather than just scientific religion. We prove you how!

 1. Worshiping the Peepal tree

Hindu dharma entails a myriad gods and goddesses and there exist a variety of reasons that propagate worship of Peepal tree. According to Brahma Purana, demons Ashvattha and Peepala hid inside and lured people to touch the Peepal tree and consecutively killed them. They were killed by lord Shani and hence the tree has been worshiped ever since. Another legend believed Goddess Lakshmi resides under the Peepal tree every Saturday which lends it a divinely touch. Another school of thought believes lord Hanuman sat on top of the Peepal tree in Lanka to witness the hardships faced by Sita.

Hindu dharma
Leaves of the ‘holy’ Peepal tree. Pixabay

The Peepal tree does not have a succulent fruit, lacks strong wood and does no good other than provide shade. However, it continues to enjoy increasing devotion from people practicing the Hindu dharma. Science confirms that Peepal is the only tree which produces oxygen even during the night. Hence, in order to preserve this unique property, ancestors of the Hindu dharma related it to God. Additionally, the tree is of utmost significance in Ayurveda and its bark and leaves are used to treat diseases and illnesses.

 2. Do not chew leaves of Tulsi plant

The Tulsi plant is revered in the Hindu dharma. Apart from its medicinal qualities, the plant is also known for its symbolic presence in Hindu mythology.

According to popular belief, Tulsi is the wife of Lord Vishnu. Hence, biting and chewing it is considered disrespectful.

Hindu dharma
According to popular belief, Tulsi is the wife of Lord Vishnu. Pixabay

However, according to botanists, Tulsi has high quantities of mercury. If raw mercury comes in contact with teeth (calcium), it can possibly result in inundation, making the teeth fall. Hence, leaves of the Tulsi plant are suggested to be swallowed and not chewed.

 3. Applying tilak on your forehead

Application of tilak is a religious ac. According to the Hindu dharma, the forehead signifies spirituality. Hence, application of a tilak on the forehead denotes an individual’s thoughts and conviction towards spirituality.  Various Vedic scriptures and Upanishads maintain that energy, potency and divinity comes to those who apply a tilak.

Hindu dharma
A flute player from India with a tilak on his forehead. Wikimedia Commons.

However, science asserts that during the application of a tilak, the central point in the forehead and the Adnya-chakra automatically pressed which encourages blood supply to the facial muscles.  According to body anatomy, a major nerve point is located in the middle of the eye brows on the forehead. Application of the red tilak is believed to maintain vitality in the body and prevent the loss of energy. The Tilak is also believed to control and enhance concentration.

 4. Obsessive cleaning during Diwali

Diwali, the festival of lights honors the goddess Lakshmi, the deity of wealth. The festival also commemorates the return of lord Ram after an exile of 14 years to his kingdom in Ayodhya. According to Hindu mythology, the night of his return was a new moon night. To illuminate his path in the pitch dark night, the villagers of Ayodhya cleaned the entire village and lit it with lamps.

Hence, Diwali is preceded by extensive cleaning of the entire house in honor of both the deities of Hindu mythology. Legend also believed goddess Lakshmi comes home on Diwali and thereby, the entire place should be cleaned and decorated to welcome the goddess.

However, science backs the concept and explains that Diwali essentially falls in October and November, and mark beginning of winters and end of monsoon season.

Hindu dharma
People indulge in cleaning, repari and beautification of their homes ahead of Diwali to welcome goddess Lakshmi. Pixabay

In older times, the monsoons were not a good period as they were characteristic of excessive rains that often resulted in floods and damaged homes, which then needed repair. This is why people indulged in repair, cleaning and beautification of their homes.

 5. Folding your hands for ‘Namaskar’

You will often find people practicing Hindu dharma greeting people by joining their palms together. The ‘Namaskar’ is believed to signify respect for people.

Hindu dharma
People practicing Hindu dharma greeting people by joining their palms together. Pixabay

This pose requires an individual to join all finger tips together that carry the pressure points of ears, eyes and mind. Science says pressing them together activates these pressure points, making our mind attentive.  This aids us to remember people for a longer duration.

The Namaskar can also be backed up by an act to maintain hygiene and cleanliness since it does not involve any physical contact.

 6. Wearing toe rings

Traditionally, toe rings are worn by married woman on the second toe and are treated as a sign of holy matrimony. However, they are believed to be a part of the Indian culture since the times of Ramayana when Sita threw her toe ring for her husband lord Ram, upon being abducted by Ravana.

Science says that a nerve on this toe connect the uterus to the heart.  Wearing a ring on this finger helps regulate blood flow, thereby, strengthening the uterus and regulating menstrual cycle. It is also believed to have an erotic effect.

 7. Applying henna on hands and feet

Mehendi or henna is usually applied during weddings and festivals to enhance the beauty of the women-folk. According to popular beliefs, the color of the henna denotes the affection a girl will enjoy from her husband and mother-in-law.

Hindu dharma
Mehendi or henna is usually applied during weddings and festivals to enhance the beauty of the women-folk. Pixabay

However, science provides rationale of applying henna during the stressful times of festivals and weddings. Festivity stress can bring fevers and migraines, which when mixed with excitement and nervous anticipation can prove to be harmful for an individual.

Thus, besides lending color, henna also possesses medicinal qualities that relieve stress and keeps the hands and feet cool thereby shielding the nerves from getting tense.

 8. Fasting during Navratri

There are four major Navratris throughout the year, however only two are celebrated on a grand scale. Throughout the nine day festival, devotees observe ritualistic fasts, perform several pujas and offer bhog (holy food) to Goddess Durga in an attempt to gratify her.

Hindu dharma
Durga, the Goddess of strength. Wikimedia

But according to science, these navratris are celebrated when the seasons are transitioning. As the seasons and the temperatures change, our eating habits also do.

Fasting during Navratri allows our bodies to adjust to the changing temperature. Individuals get a chance to detox their bodies by quitting excessive salt, sugar and oil. Additionally, Navratris allow them to meditate and gain positive energy. This helps them prepare for the upcoming change in seasons.

 9. Applying sindoor

In traditional Hindu societies, the Sindoor denotes a woman’s desire for their spouse’s longetivity. The red powder is believed to be the color of power, symbolizing the female energy of Parvati and Sati. The Hindu dharma holds a woman is ‘complete’ or ideal only when she wears Sindoor.

Hindu dharma
Sindoor a cultural identity of every Hindu women. Wikimedia

Science explains that sindoor is made out of Vermilion, which is the decontaminated and powdered type of cinnabar (mercury sulfide). Because of its characteristic properties, mercury is known to reduce anxiety, control blood pressure and also initiate sexual desire, the primary reason why married women are advised to wear the ‘holy’ red powder. This is also the reason why widows are prohibited from wearing sindoor.

10. Wearing bangles on wrists

Bangles have been worn in the Hindu dharma since times immemorial- goddesses are also pictured to adorn these beautiful rings in their wrists. Bangles are believed to enhance feminine grace and beauty. The Hindu dharma almost makes it mandatory for newly-wed brides and to-be brides to wear bangles as they are believed to symbolize the well-being of the husbands and the sons.

Hindu dharma
Bangles are believed to accentuate the beauty of the Indian woman. Pixabay

Science suggests the constant friction caused by wearing bangles in the wrists expands the blood flow level. Besides this, the energy passing through the external skin is once again returned to one’s own body due to the round-molded bangles which has no ends to pass the energy out.