What Is the Meaning of Turmeric in Hinduism?
Turmeric, known in India as Haldi, is a root of the ginger family native to South Asia. The dried root is ground into a powder and most commonly used as a spice in South Asian cooking and for dying. Turmeric has also been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years as a remedy for various ailments. In Hinduism, turmeric is a common fixture in wedding rituals and prayer ceremonies as it has great religious and spiritual significance.
In Hindu worship ceremonies, turmeric powder is used to symbolize both inner purity and inner pride. Worshipers use turmeric paste to anoint statues and images of Hindu deities in religious ceremonies. Along with symbolizing fertility and prosperity in the Hindu religion, turmeric also represents purity. The yellow and orange coloring of turmeric add to its significance in Hindu practice with yellow representing the space between chastity and sensuality, as well as the sacral chakra. Orange represents the sun, sacrifice, and courage, as well as the solar plexus chakra. Turmeric is associated with purity, fertility and auspicious beginnings in Hindu culture.
History of Turmeric
During the Vedic period in India, turmeric was known as the ‘'golden spice’' or the '‘spice of life’' as it was associated with the sun. Particular significance was attributed to the bright yellow and saffron spice as the sun and sun Gods were a focal point of worship and ritual at the time. The main indigenous uses of turmeric were rites and rituals intended to produce fertility and spiritual purification.
In Ayurveda, the Hindu medicinal system, turmeric is utilized extensively for its healing and health-producing qualities. Spiritually it is used to balance the energies of the body while medicinally it is well known as an anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiseptic, digestive, antioxidant and diuretic agent. It is taken internally in the form of juice, tea, and powder or applied topically in the form of lotions, ointments, and pastes. Milk boiled with turmeric and sugar is used in India as a cold remedy and the juice of the turmeric root is often applied to help heal wounds.
Because turmeric is associated with fertility and prosperity, it is used during the Haldi ceremony at Hindu weddings. The powder is mixed with water to form a paste and family members apply it to the bride and groom’s face and body. It signifies the ritual purification of the new couple and serves as a blessing of fortune and prosperity. It is also intended to relax the bride and groom and dispel any nervousness. Before the wedding day, the turmeric is washed from the body. Traditionally turmeric was also used to dye the marriage cloth.
Turmeric For Worship
Hindus all across India use turmeric on a daily basis. Women often apply it to their faces in the evening as an act of emulation for the Goddess Durga whose skin emits a yellow glow. Turmeric is also used to give yellow coloration to clothes as it is associated with Lord Krishna who is depicted wearing yellow. In addition, certain special, Ganesh idols are made entirely of turmeric and turmeric water is used as an offering to the Goddess Kali.
Indians have a custom of welcoming a person back home or bidding farewell to a person by doing aarti and tilak or tikka. This tilak is a dot or line drawn on the forehead. This is done for the protection of the person who is leaving, so when the women of the house do the tilak and say God be with you, they use haldi and kum kum.