Welcoming the New Year with Neem
Amused with the title?
I am sure you are all wondering about the idea of Welcoming the New Year with Neem.
Celebrating the festival of Gudi Padwa,today 8th April 2016 marks the beginning of the Hindu New Year.
Gudi Padwa is one of the most auspicious days in Hindu Calendar. It is celebrated on the first day of the month of Chaitra according to the lunar calendar.
According to the Hindu calendar, this marks the commencement of the Vasanta Ritu or the spring season.
I thought of sharing the influence of Ayurveda in this festival.
Being a highly spiritual country, festivals are at the heart of people’s lives in India. The numerous and varied festivals that are held throughout the year offer a unique way of seeing Indian culture at its best.
The traditional meals prepared and served during festivals are influenced by the local food availability and most important the seasons.
There are 6 Ritu (seasons) in India. These are Vasant (Spring), Grishma (Summer), Varsha (Monsoon), Sharad (Autumn), Hemant (Winter) and Shishir (Winter and fall).
Festival of Gudi Padwa:
The day of Gudi padwa begins with an abhyanga (oil massage) followed by bath and prayers.
Houses are decorated and a Gudi (flag )is hoisted outside the house.
A bamboo stick with an inverted silver/ copper pot and a beautifully decorated bright coloured silk cloth is tied to it along with a twig of Neem leaves and mango leaves and a flower garland with sweet snaps.
This hoisting of Gudi outside the house wards off any evil and brings in good luck,fortune, and prosperity in the house.
A unique ritual related to this festival is eating the bitter leaves of the Neem tree.
A paste or drink of neem leaves is prepared and mixed with coriander/cumin seeds,asafoetida, jaggery (unrefined cane sugar), and tamarind.
All the members of the family consume this paste/drink, which helps to purify the blood and strengthen the body’s immune system against diseases.
Change in Season/atmosphere:
To understand this specific ritual, we take a small peek at the atmosphere and the seasonal changes during that time and how those changes affect us in general.
According to the ancient system of medicine Ayurveda this is the time of the year when the Kapha accumulated in the body during the cold winter months starts to get out from the body due to the heat of the sun and starts to create issues in the body.
This is the beginning of the spring.Winter has been a great time with lot of coolness in the air, suddenly as spring arrives the atmosphere starts getting warmer slowly and slowly .
The sun’s rays increase in intensity, going from mellow to hot.
Many people who have low immunity suffer with cold, cough, allergies,hay fever,lack of appetite,and fatigue.
Your local spring climate may, at first, fluctuate between colder, drier, more isolating wintery weather, and warmer, wetter conditions—meaning that any given day could aggravate kapha, vata, or both.
Then, as the season progresses and the weather heats up, you may find yourself needing to pacify kapha, pitta, or a combination of the two.
Ayurvedic Significance of the Neem drink:
Neem (Azadirachta indica) has been used in Ayurveda since a long time and has been mentioned in ancient texts for its exceptional beneficial nature.
Every part of the neem tree, which includes bark, leaves, fruit, roots,branches flowers, etc is beneficial.
Neem is known all over the world for its Blood purifying action, immunity boosting properties.
It is helpful for fighting this excess Kapha that has been starting to build up in our system.
Jaggery though sweet has its own value for heating our internal system thus helping the action of this neem to work in removing the excess Kapha.
The benefits of jaggery include its ability to cleanse your body, act as a digestive agent, sweeten your food in a healthy manner, and provide good amounts of minerals.
It is rich in several important vitamins and minerals like potassium, magnesium, iron, zinc, selenium, calcium and phosphorus and antioxidants.
The iron content in this sweetener helps to boost blood haemoglobin level. Hence its use in pregnancy can be beneficial.
Coriander and Cumin seeds are Vata and Pitta pacifying in nature.They also help digestion,relieve flatulence and bloating.Coriander and cumin both help in cleansing and flushing out toxins.
Asafoetida is vata pacifying in nature.
Tamarind is pitta pacifying in nature.
Health benefits of Neem:
It is advisable to consult an Ayurvedic doctor while taking Neem leaves extracts or Neem oil as medicine.
I hope you enjoyed reading the article.Stay tuned for more information on Spring diet and lifestyle in my next blog.
Wishing a very Happy New Year !!!