Indian culture & traditions

1) New born babies were sprinkled or sometimes bathed in icy cold water. (This tradition is still continued by few for the rest of their lives- the first pail of water they use to bath will be icy cold)

  • Traditional reason-Cold water is a babies first fear, by bathing the kid with icy cold water (just the first pail), we remove the child’s fear of water, or to be more exact, cold water. It is said that only when a person gets rid of his fear of cold water (by that, they mean small fears) can he face the world bravely
  • Scientific reason-many of us have heard of cold-water-therapy, well this is where is came from. It is said that exposing the body to natural stresses like cold water from time to time boosts the body’s immune system.

2) ‘Valaikaapu’- a function similar to the westerners ‘shower’. It is done during the period of 5th and 8th month of pregnancy. During this ceremony, the pregnant woman is dressed up in new clothes with jewelry and so on, other women are invited to come over to her house and put on bangles on her hands and bless her.

  • Traditional reason-To bless the pregnant soon-to-be mother so that the child she bares is delivered safely and healthily, and for the health of the mother herself. 
  • Deeper meaning-The bangles are called ‘Kaapu’ in tamil, hence the name ‘Valaikaapu’. Kaapu is also a derivation of the word protect. The reason why every women who comes for the ceremony presents the soon-to-be mother with bangles is to tell her that no matter what happens, we will be here protecting you during the time of your delivery and throughout the process.

3) Throwing coins into the river (yup…we started it):-

  • Traditional reason: To bring upon good luck. People believed that by throwing coins in rivers brought them good luck.
  • Scientific reason: Those days, coins were made of copper. Copper is a vital metal very useful to our body. Throwing copper into the river mixed it with the water, and since it was the only source of clean water those days, people drank the river water. Drinking water mixed with copper is very good for health
4)Joining both palms to greet others (in other words to say vanakkam):-
  • Traditional meaning:- To show our respect to others, especially elderly people.
  • Scientific reason:- While greeting others, we join both the hands together. Joining both hands ensures joining the tips of all the fingers together; which are denoted to the pressure points of eyes, ears, and mind. Pressing them together is said to activate the pressure points. This helps us to remember the person for a long time.
5)Applying Tilak on the forehead (pottu):-
  • Traditional reason:- Hinduism is very much concerned about this custom. This is considered as a evil practice if women do not put tilak.
  • Scientific reason:-  The tilak is applied on the spot between the brows which is considered the seat of latent wisdom and mental concentration. This spot present in between the eyebrows is said to have the nerve connection to the brain. And putting tilak in this spot regularly would stimulate this spot and helps us to have good concentration and mental concentration.
6)Tying mango leaves and neem leaves on the door (entrance) during auspicious days.
  • Traditional reason:- To not allow evil spirits into the house.
  • Scientific reason:-  On auspicious days and on special occasions, all of us gather at one place along with our relatives and friends. Photosynthesis is a process where in plants take in carbon-di-oxide and give out oxygen. This process helps in circulation of oxygen and in turn keeps the room temperature at an optimum level. Mango leaves and neem leaves are very effective in the photosynthesis process comparative to other plants. Neem leaves purify the bacteria too. In order to keep the temperature cool and to circulate air, we tie mango leaves and neem leaves to all the doors.
7) To apply turmeric on the body while bathing (for women).
  • Traditional reason:-  It is a compulsory act to be done by girls.
  • Scientific reason:-  Women traditionally used to perform many household duties which involved bringing water from the river, cleaning the house with water, washing clothes, and cooking. Most of the houses were made of mud and clay which were soaked in water at regular intervals for cleaning purposes. All these activities required women step into/on water. In order to prevent their feet and legs from the bacterial and fungus infections; they were advised to apply turmeric paste to their legs. In today’s medicine we all know that turmeric is an very good antiseptic agent. Our forefathers knew this too and therefore they used turmeric extensively in their day to day lives.
8.)  Women Staying away from rituals during menstrual cycle.
  • Traditional reason:- That menstruation is impure (dirty) and that it will bring ill efects to the ritual.
  • Scientific reason:- This is probably one of the most misinterpreted customs that prevails in many traditional families. During menstruation women undergo both physical and emotional changes and may not be ready for rituals that required concentration and strength for execution. Women in the ancient times used to do a lot work that required a ritual to be completed. This custom was to ensure that women under menstruation are given rest during rituals. Over time this has been misinterpreted by many that women under menstruation are to stay away from rituals since it brings ill effects to the ritual.

9)Removing dhisti by circling salt or lemon around the head.

  • Traditional reason:- “Dristhi” is stated as an evil eye on the person who feels jealous about others. It is believed that if a person gets “Dristi”, he would be ruined or would fell sick due to the evil eye. As a cure and remedy to this evil eye, elders take dristhi by revolving salt or lemon around the person.
  •  Scientific reason:-  Salt can be considered as the first antibiotic. Not only that, the salty and acidic substances would less affect the magnetic field. Keeping these properties if lemon and salt in mind, we revolve salt and lemon around the person. The salt and lemon when revolved around, it would kill all the bacteria around the person. It forms an aura layer of antibiotics around the person. Not only has this, revolving around the person balance the magnetic field too. This would make the person affected with dristi feel better.

*These are the information i have for the time being, and this page will be updated hopefully daily. If you find a mistake in the information i have provided or if you have more information you would like to share with the rest of us on the indian traditions and culture, please do IM me on Sidhar Sharm.


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