HYDERABAD: "Isolation and quarantine are intimidating words. It’s nothing like the confinement a terrorist is kept in so don’t worry!" smiled Rohit Datta, the famous COVID-19 survivor, recently on a news channel.
Though many believe this is an opportune period for introspection and spiritual rejuvenation, for many, maintaining a psychological equilibrium during these times is a trying task with escalading stress levels and panic. One of man’s earliest friends is fragrance.
The mystical ethereality of aromas speaks its own language to, not just the mind, but even the spirit. The Jewish Talmud says, "what is it that pleases the soul but not the body? It’s fragrance!". Traditions, right from the Ayurveda, the Old Testament, Islam and Sufism have advocated fragrance as mediums of divine connection owing to their psychologically and spiritually elevating qualities. That explains their presence in nearly all spiritual traditions of the world.
"During the Havdalla ceremony marking the end of Shabbat, Jews nose high-energy, cheerful scents to fight the sadness one might feel, bidding goodbye to the calming day of rest and prayer," explains Jewish scholar and scribe Sharon Binyamin Galsurkar. Who can ever miss the comforting aromas of benzoin incense permeating after church service or during Zoroastrian evening incense rituals? Oud or agarwood is a timetested anti-depressant as is, an exotic perfumery ingredient.
"It is mentioned in nearly all faiths. Despite their unaffordability, people still buy oud oil and the chips to feel elevated. The Japanese have oud incense as an integral part of their meditation probably since Buddha’s time" shares Tajul Bakshi, an eminent Assambased oud distiller. Burning resins, camphor and sandalwood as incense has been an ancient Vedic tradition, particularly for the positivity and peace they emanate.
Home sweet home:
Indulge the olfactory in the simplest fragrant ritual with your domestic treasure house of scents. While many may not fancy collecting fragrances, lighting camphor would give an unbelievable feeling of restfulness. A simple dhoop that would remind you of the innocence of grandma’s daily prayer or a refreshing shampoo that energises you after bath, can work magic.
Among the popular perfumes many would boast of owning , the grand old Davido ff Cool Water with its aquatic excellence creates the perfect party mood. A feminine, peppy and celebrative Chanel no. 5 for a dull lockdown day and of course, J’Adore by Christian Dior with a play of plum, rose, blackcurrant, orchid and amaranth teasing away the woes.
"The aqua note in a perfume gives you the feeling of being around water during scorching summers. While citruses like lemon, orange, grapefruit and bergamot invariably refresh you, natural extracts of vetiver, kewda and even the Mitti Attar, a recreation of petrichor (smell of the earth after the first monsoon showers) put the senses at ease" shares perfumer Praful Gundhi.
"Aroma candles are both meditative as well as romantic. Turn off the lights and let the flame illuminate the stillness around as the gentle aromas permeate the space. While masala agarbattis can be intense for many, modern candles are easy on the olfactory and spread a positive, cozy vibe" smiles fragrance connoisseur Gauri Vyas.
In the land of ancient fragrance traditions, modern incense sticks spell sophistication. Many traditional agarbattis with notes like jasmine, kewda, rose and the legendary Mysuru classic ‘Mallige’ still create the perfectly devotional vibe.
With the prayerful household atmosphere ingrained in the Indian psyche, the sense of tranquility associated with these incenses is deeply etched in the subconscious mind. "Burning dashangam, an exquisite mélange of natural powders and essential oils has been an ageold south Indian temple tradition. Rich in vetiver, jatamansi (Himalayan spikenard), jasmine, anise and other ingredients like Halmaddi, a resin favored by ancient Rishis, the effervescent powder instantly puts the mind at rest," says perfumer Guru Acharya. Use your nose to cure yourself and feel elevated. That’s what is the essence of fragraces.
Lighting camphor can make you feel restful and a simple dhoop that would remind you of grandma’s daily prayer