Home of organic elixirs
A mother-daughter duo is reviving the coconut-based cosmetic methods from traditional Malayali households
KOCHI: In the olden days, the hot processed virgin coconut oil or ‘ventha velichenna’ or ‘urukku velichenna’ in Malayalam was a famous grandmother’s recipe in every household. Generations of Malayali households have prepared this elixir from the milk of matured, organically grown coconuts (thengapal), which is known for its effect on newborn babies and new mothers post-partum.
The making of this oil is, however, a laborious process. For the city-dwellers with day jobs and responsibilities, this is hardly something they can manage to pull off. But now, a mother-daughter duo from Anamangad, a village in Malappuram district, has revived this method, under their brand ‘Purvina’. The brand name, which translates to traditional, implies its vision of exploring rural goodness. Jaya Avanoor and Parvathy Avanoor have also introduced several other organic products through the brand, including tamarind paste, turmeric powder, peppercorn, and Kunnakaaya podi for infants — all processed traditionally.
Hailing from an entrepreneurial family, the duo admits that setting up Purvina was not a task. Jaya,56, has been handling a packing unit and was involved in multiple businesses alongside her husband who runs a pharmaceutical manufacturing company and a farm. “The organic farm had paddy, tapioca, turmeric, and veggies. But it has been running on loss for years. When the units came to a standstill during the lockdown, my parents had a lot of free time.
Then, I put forth the idea of creating value-added products out of already available produces on the farm, that’s how Purvina was born,” says Parvathy, who is building her brand digitally. She quit her job at a digital marketing startup in Bangalore to run the venture full-time. The success of their products was purely based on the remarkable changes their users were experiencing. “Years ago, we had made the oil for my father-in-law who had Alzheimer’s.
An Ayurvedic doctor suggested drinking 15ml of it to prevent the condition from worsening. Seeking references from doctors and experts, we made the potion accurately albeit with plenty of challenges. That is how we began making ventha velichenna,” says Jaya who was an artist who broadcasted on Air India Radio. In a bronze uruli, the coconut milk is stirred continuously at a constant temperature. This extracts the oil from the milk. “It is time-consuming to get the virgin coconut oil cooked, that’s why it is spotted rarely, despite its benefits,” adds Parvathy. Even the turmeric is parboiled at first, sun-dried and powdered.
The duo introduced the oil for its medical benefits — moisturising the skin, preventing memory loss, and hair growth. Later they were able to identify other uses too. The oil can be used as an anti-wrinkle potion and it prevents heat boils and diaper rashes.
From first-hand experience, Parvathy says it is a great remedy for nipple crack in feeding mothers. “Unlike other creams available in the market, there’s no need to wipe the oil before feeding babies, it is edible,” she says. The venture has launched its nipple crack and diaper rash protection oil as well. Since there are no added preservatives, the oil has a shelf-life of one year. The Malayali household secret now has takers in Jammu and Kashmir, West Bengal, Telangana, and Andaman and Nicobar islands.
In the manufacturing unit, the majority of employees are women. They source the products from the farm itself. When the demand is higher, they depend on the local farmers. According to Parvathy, many households in the area now grow turmeric to sell to Purvina.