One ingredient that is a key part of Indian beauty rituals is turmeric. Turmeric’s botanical name is Curcuma longa. The plant reaches barely three feet in height and produces both a flower and a rhizome, or stem, that is found underground. The rhizome has an appearance similar to ginger; it is this root-like stem that produces the yellow turmeric spice. Though it can now be found throughout the tropics, India has been the largest producer of turmeric since ancient times.
Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory agent that’s said to be beneficial for both the digestive system and skin health. It can help even out skin tones with hyperpigmentation, help with scarring and reduce the look of breakouts.
Turmeric can also help with skin brightness, which is one of the reasons it’s used in traditional Indian wedding ceremonies. Many of us would not think of putting Tumeric on our face because of a fear of getting a yellow stain on our skin. Yet the Haldi ceremony is a ritual holy bath, also known as the pithi ceremony, which is one of the pre-wedding ceremonies in India. Turmeric (haldi), oil and water are applied to both the bride and groom by married women on the morning of the wedding. The mixture is believed to bless the couple before the wedding. It is known to have properties that leave the skin bright and glowing. The Haldi in some Indian communities is considered auspicious and also signifies protection.
The auspiciousness of this ingredient and its colour brings prosperity to the couple as they start their new life together. Some families mix the turmeric with sandalwood powder and milk, while others prefer to mix it with rose water.
The ceremony includes traditional songs and dances, and sometimes the bride and groom will apply this sacred paste on their unmarried siblings and friends for luck too. It is said that whoever gets touched by this paste will find a good looking partner soon.
Haldi holds an important place in Indian traditions because it also purifies and cleanses the body. After the Haldi ceremony, when the paste is rinsed off, it helps to remove dead cells and detoxify the skin. It is proven to be an effective exfoliating agent. Well, we don't think it is quite as good as our BOA exfoliant, but we celebrate the tradition nonetheless with our Indian friends.
Apart from its beautification property, Haldi is also known to alleviate some of the nervousness that the bride and the groom feel before their wedding. It is known to boost immunity and soothe an upset stomach.
Most people believe that Haldi has the power to ward off evil spirits from affecting the bride and the groom. This is also a reason why they are not allowed to leave their home after the Haldi ceremony, until their wedding mahurat. In some traditions, they also tie a sacred red thread or are presented small amulets for protection against the evil eye.
Just like many other Indian rituals, the Haldi ceremony is typically celebrated with laughter, giggles, pomp and colour!
Excerpts taken from various articles on Haldi
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