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Significance of abhyanga snan -- Holy bath during Diwali!

Get in the habit of "oiling up" each morning with the ayurvedic self-massage "abhyanga" before your bath or shower. This will lubricate and protect your skin and give your complexion a radiant sheen that lasts throughout the day.

Abhyanga snan -- start your day with a holy bath for a healthy year ahead!

Written by Bhavyajyoti Chilukoti |Updated : November 2, 2016 1:08 PM IST

Every Diwali, your parents might have woken you up early in the morning only for abhyanga snan. But do you know the significance of this ritual? Also known as holy bath, abhyanga snan is a bathing ritual that includes a full body massage. And in some regions, a special ayurvedic mixture is used as herbal soap. In Western India, this mixture is made up of various herbs and spices known as ubtan, whereas in Southern India it consists of besan, oil and sandalwood powder.

Health Benefits of abhyanga snan

A ritual performed on the morning of Narak Chaturdasi, abhyanga snan provides you with numerous health benefits. During Diwali, before you go for a bath, you need to massage your entire body with sesame oil. Because Diwali is celebrated during the winter, using sesame oil increases heat in the body and thus, help you to stay warm. It acts so by lowering the amount of pitta in the body. Using it once in a while helps you to reap its benefits. However, don t use it frequently as it causes too much heat in the body..

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Also, applying oil on the skin not only moisturises your skin and body but also cleanses your skin of the environmental pollutants and toxins and removes dead skin cells as well. Sesame oil penetrate deep into the skin (unlike other natural moisturisers) and thus gives you a natural glow with a smooth skin.

It also increases circulation of blood and massaging your head with warm oil relieves you from stress and calms your mind. Abhyanga snan stimulates the nerves and also aids sensory motor integration and thus helps prevent neurological problems. Also, the gentle oil massage relaxes the muscles thereby strengthening them.

Abhyanga snan the ritual

According to mythology, Narak Chaturdasi signifies the victory of good over evil. And thus, the early morning bath signifies the destruction of evil within us. It is also believed that since abhyang snan is taken before the sunrise, it is as sacred as bathing in the river Ganges. Here's how to perform the ritual -

  • Wake up early in the morning on this auspicious day (preferably before sunrise)
  • Massage your entire body with sesame oil. Also, apply few drops of oil on the scalp.
  • Wait for around 30 minutes before you go for a bath so that the oil is absorbed by the body.
  • While bathing, apply ubtan or ayurvedic mixture and massage it thoroughly over the entire body.
  • Scrub it and rinse with water properly so that the mixture is washed off.
  • Now, bathe as you usually do using a normal soap (some people skip this step).

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  1. Gandhidas Sonajirao Lavekar, A practical Handbook of Panchalarma Procedures, 2nd, Publisher: CCRAS-Ayush, Ministry of Health, Govt.of India, Editor: Dr. Padhi, Dr. Sharda, Dr. MM Sharma Dr. B. Venkateshwarlu, ISBN: 978-81-907420-9-2
  2. I. Ramakrishna Krishna, Ayurveda The Ancient Scientific Medicine with Natural Healing, 2003, Springer Berlin Heidelberg, pp 235-255, doi:10.1007/978-3-662-05185-6_16

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