Thursday, April 14, 2011

Sambrani--more than a fragrance. Post 14

My son clicked this picture of me


Benzoin Resin also called styrax resin is obtained from the bark of a tree and is used in perfumes, incense and as a flavouring. It's main component is Benzoic acid.  It has a distinct smell. You would perhaps be aware of this particular smell if you have lived in South India. It is called 'Sambrani'. (It is very different fron the North Indian 'dhoop' or 'agarbattis' which all have diferent smells)


I personally love the smell of Sambrani. I find it positive, uplifting, vibrant. Sambrani powder is always sprinkled on glowing red charcoal. The fumes which come out exude the aroma and it slowly spreads all across the room.
I have a very traditional Sambrani holder (see pictures ) which holds the burning coal ember. This holder that I have is easily more than a hundred years old . It is a heirloom which has been passed down the generations. My husband's grandmother used to have it.

The women in Kerala , in the ancient times, used to dry their wet hair in these fumes, after a bath.It would scent the hair and also prevent scalp infections.

Somehow I love to keep ancient traditions going. I have the hanging lamp whose picture I had put up in this post. 


Sometimes, I just light a Sambrani, sit in my study, switch on some lovely music and do absolutely nothing. My thoughts carry me to all kinds of wonderful places.
I dream and the world stands still for just those few precious moments.
Bliss. I cherish it.
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PS: If you're in Mumbai see today's Afternoon D&C. It has quoted me and there's a picture of me. Title of article is "I want to be like....." . It is a write up on young girls choosing their role models, written by Hema Achhpal.





20 comments:

  1. provoking to do as mentioned in the end note! Little moments of life so uncherished in the rat race! Agn - killer pics :) How many died so far? Now i know what Radiation death is - courtesy Preeti Shenoy:)

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  2. wow - in the papers too. I am sure not one but there are many who would want to be like you.
    You are truly an inspiration to many. I also think about writing a book and you are my inspiration. One day I surely will :)

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  3. I love smabrani smell too!Reminds me of my grandma. It so nice to see you enjoy the traditions.

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  4. Preethi- this is remarkable idea of writing about the sambrani.
    And I was so hyper excited to learn that you do exactly what I used to do while I was in India and my daughter was infant. I would light sambrani twice a day to keep her body warm after bath [like u mentioned about the kerala people]and myself sit beside it for long doing nothing:-)
    The sambrani is a tradition in we Konkani families.
    lovely post.

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  5. Your posts are really thought provoking. Not to mention, extremely informative too :-)

    Lovely pictures!

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  6. The first pic is really nice..:)
    he he..nice to see you managed to post at 11:56..:)

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  7. Would love to have a sambrani ! Right now I just light a agarbatti to try to evoke the same sense of peace and calm !
    so important such things are in our hectic lives !

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  8. Moments captured in your son's camera is interesting me. could you please leave a link of your son's blog. i love to see it.

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  9. I love drying my hair with Sambrani... have got it done when I get a ayurvedic massage. After the whole deal... all you want to do is just sleep wrapped in all the herbal smells.

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  10. I love drying my hair with Sambrani... have got it done when I get a ayurvedic massage. After the whole deal... all you want to do is just sleep wrapped in all the herbal smells.

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  11. The smell of temples.. the camphor... I used to steal it and keep it in my book shelf, so al book start smelling like that :) i dont have much association with smbrani though, this post reminds me of that smell.. ! :)

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  12. Clarification: used to steal it from my mom :P not the temple

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  13. I love how the house smellS when I have lit the lamp and used the incense sticks and sambhrani...it has such a calming affect...and i love the hanging lamp...I'll have too buy one for myself soon....:)

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  14. Caterpillar: I agree.You get lovely ones in Kerala.

    MS:The clarification cracked me up totally :D

    Aathira: ooh yes..I know the feeling!

    Venkat: Sure. Thanks for the interest. This is the link

    Ruch: So very true. You must must try the sambrani.Am sure a south indian store in delhi will be having it.

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  15. Deepti: thanks :) Yes--4 minutes :)

    Sucheta:Thanks so much!! :)

    Sushma: Oh--i did not know that it was a konkani tradition. I just do it as I like the smell :)

    Prathima: Same pinch!

    Horizon: Wow!! First time I think that I am somebody's inspiration! Thanks so much :)

    Minu: Don't know how many died :) I tried to ask them but they wouldn't say! ;-) :-))

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  16. I love the sambrani pugai(smoke of sambrani in tamil) too. This tradition is followed in tamil homes my grandmom used it, my mom and me for my daughter. for some people the wetness in the hair due to sweat leads to humid asthma, it is ideal to use sambrani pugai to dry your hair.

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  17. Apart from the nice things you mentioned about Sambrani... in TN it is also used to scold a dumb person (american dumb ;)).

    Please find the correct phrase of using it for scolding - "Mada Sambrani" ! ;)

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  18. I live in Indonesia. Sambrani also part of Javanese-Balinese Hindu culture in Indonesia. We put sambrani powder, mixed it with some rock sugar, and put in burning charcoal. Then you will experience a unique combination of sambrani and caramel fragrance. If you can find original sandalwood powder, add it. You will have such a mystical experience of celestial world. We also use the smoke for scenting water and fabrics for holy offerings to God.

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  19. ms.preeti, Sambirani is also a natural air freshener . The balsamic smell also has a very slight tinge of hard vanilla. This particular resin in its purest form exhudes a smell which lasts in the room or site for a solid 8 hours after it has been burnt.

    Dasanrangarajan, here in india too , it has a very long history. Sometimes , people mix with a little bit of bishops weed ( omam ) to get a strong smell.

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  20. Bought some in South India and burned some in the garden. Neighbours thought it was cannabis!

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