Many traditional rituals and rites which we have been following for years may seem to be irrational or superstitious to some. But on introspection, one realises that these traditional rituals indeed have scientific or logical reasoning behind them. Let us understand the scientific reasoning of a few Indian traditional rituals and habits.
NAMASTE-GREETINGS WITH FOLDED HAND
NAMASTE = NA + MA + ASTE = ‘I’ + DON’T + EXIST.
Yes, this humbleness is a part of the ancient Indian Culture. When we greet someone, it should mean to honour, to respect that person. Namaste is a representation of just THAT. It’s like saying: ‘ I do not harbour any ego while associating with you‘. What a way to begin good relations!
APPLYING TURMERIC TO THE BRIDE/GROOM:
In most Hindu traditions, Haldi (turmeric) paste application to both the bride and the groom as a pre-nuptial ritual. Why? – Just because it is auspicious. But what makes it so auspicious?
Well, marriage is a social function in India – a great time for a get-together. The Bride/Groom is surrounded by relatives, friends and well-wishers from DIFFERENT places and environments. Now the bride/groom may be sensitive to certain things. Thus, the chances of the spread of allergies or viral are high. So as a precaution, applying Haldi all over the body became a custom. Who doesn’t know that turmeric is a wonderful antiseptic? Besides protecting the skin from rashes and pimples, it also exfoliates the skin making it smooth and luminous. For the same reasons, in many communities, it is a necessary custom to tie a piece of haldi to the wrist of the bride/groom.
The gesture of touching the feet of elders is another form of an important yoga asana – Padahastasana.
Charan Sparsh – Touching the feet of elders is a good stretching exercise that improves blood circulation and helps in strengthening the back – thereby improving the posture. But then why touching the feet of ‘elders’? Because bending down is also a symbol of humility – this posture teaches us a lesson that howsoever successful or big we may become, our elders are always superior to us and deserve all our humble respect and salutations.
Parikrama or Pradakshina means walking the circular path around a religious spot/place/temple – barefoot. Many of us have read about the Magnetic effect of electric current (Oersted’s Experiment). In fact, all energy sources have magnetic fields around them.
Religious temples are generally places that are great sources of energy. Performing Parikrama of such places energies oneself. Besides this, walking bare feet works as an acupressure exercise for tired feet. Have you noticed that you have to walk long distances or climb many steps to reach most of the temples / spiritual spots?
BLOWING A CONCH (SHANKH):
Blowing a Shankh is beneficial both to the person who blows the shankh and those around him- it energizes both. First of all, blowing a shankh involves taking a deep breath and controlling it – as the Shankh Naad is done in one breath with lungs filled to full capacity. Secondly, when a shankh is blown, the sound energy emitted by it is of such high intensity and frequency that it destroys harmful germs in the immediate atmosphere, cleanses it and reverberates strong positive energy around.
DAHI SHAKKAR (CURDS WITH SUGAR):
It is an ancient custom still prevalent in India to have curds with sugar before setting out for some important work such as exams/interviews/business meetings. The logic behind this is: Curd is a coolant and a good digestive agent. It prevents heartburn and gas formation. Sugar is an instant energizer. One needs to be cool, collected and energized when setting out to accomplish an important task.
WEARING TILAK ON FOREHEAD:
A Tilak is a mark worn on the forehead by Hindus. It is applied between the eyebrows – the seat of Ajna Chakra. Ajna Chakra is the seat of intuition, memory and thinking. When a person is tensed or worried, electromagnetic waves in the form of heat energy are emitted through this Ajna Chakra. This intense energy emission causes headaches. The ‘Tilak‘ not only cools the head but also minimizes energy loss. Research has proved that the application of Tilak clears sinuses. The application of Tilak on the forehead stimulates the discharge of serotonin and beta-endorphins in the brain. This reduces the negativity of the mind and increases confidence.
HAVING FOOD SITTING ON THE FLOOR:
Indians have a tradition of having meals sitting on the floor cross-legged. In fact, this is a yogic position – ‘Sukhasana‘. In this position, one has to slightly move his body forward to eat and then come back to the original position. This repeated action results in activating the abdominal muscles; which increases the secretion of stomach acids and allows food to digest faster. The cross-legged position not only enhances blood circulation in our body but also calms the nerves.
Ear piercing or Karna Vedha is one of the 16 samskaras or sacraments mentioned in the Ayurveda. Piercing the ear helps maintain a healthy menstrual cycle in females. Besides, it improves the health of the intestines and testicles in males. The ear lobes consist of acupressure points that get stimulated on the piercing. This ensures healthy brain development and improvement of memory. Also, piercing the left nostril helps to minimize the discomfort and pain experienced by females during menstrual cycles and childbirth.
WORSHIPING TULSI PLANT:
Every Hindu householder considers Tulsi to be a very sacred and must-have plant. Every part of the Tulsi plant is revered. The Bhagwat Purana describes Tulsi as the ‘Queen of Herbs‘. The medicinal uses of Tulsi find mention and application in many traditional systems of medicine, be it Ayurveda, Unani, or Siddha. Each part of the plant offers protection against various diseases. The leaves possess antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties. Researches have proved that Tulsi can help reduce physical, chemical, metabolic and psychological stress. Daily consumption of Tulsi leaves helps to avert diseases, promote general health, well-being and longevity. No wonder, traditionally it was mandatory for every household to have a Tulsi plant in their courtyard.
The purpose here is NOT to propagate any blind faith or superstitions. Many traditional rituals and customs were steeped in pure logic and scientific explanations. But over the period of time, people with vested interests incorporated many additional and superstitious customs and traditions along with them. Hence we need to apply our logic and seek out ancient roots of knowledge before classifying any ancient knowledge as a ‘BLIND SUPERSTITION’.