Sambrani is a term used by traditional medical science Ayurveda for the yellow resin, a gum-like substance that comes from perfumed sap of Sal tree. The sap is extracted from the tree by making an incision in the bark of the tree. This herbal resin is then collected and processed in the form of minute granules that are pressed hard to form crystals or bars of sambrani. It is also called as Jhuna.
The botanical name for sambrani is Benzoin resin. It is produced out of the bark of tree species like Genus Styrax. The main component in the resin is Benzoic acid, generally called Benzoin resin.
Benzoin resin is mainly produced by the countries Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, and Sumatra since Styrax species of trees are grown in these countries. Benzoin gum is also used in the orthodox churches of Russia as church incense. In Arab countries of Middle East and in India, Benzoin is burnt over charcoal fire as incense. It is also used in Japan and China in the manufacture of incense sticks.
How is Sambrani Used?
Sambrani is used for multiple purposes like drying the hair of ladies and children, in the temple poojas as incense, as a germicide, as a mosquito repellent, as a sweet fragrance, to create divine atmosphere etc. It is also used as a perfume in the perfume industry, to manufacture incense sticks and cones, as a flavouring substance, and in medicines like Tincture of Benzoin.
Sambrani dhoop offering to the God.
Traditionally, sambrani is used to dry the hair by holding hair over the sambrani pot and letting the smoke in. If the hair is really long and thick, another person or a family member could assist by holding the hair over the smoke for effective drying. In instances where there is no one to assist, the ladies devised a method to effectively spread the smoke in the hair and evenly dry it out. This was done by placing a straw basket over the sambrani pot and then holding the hair over the straw basket. This served two purposes. One, it evenly distributed the smoke from the gaps in the straw basket. Two, it reduced dependency and risk of hair burning due to contact with the charcoal.
Sambrani brass pot with charcoal fire.
Since thousands of years, Indian temples have been using incense. It also used in Buddhist and Hindu temple for religious ceremonies as a purifier of the atmosphere near the temple areas. It is also used in the pooja rooms in private houses and in domestic shrines during the pooja to bring in a meditative ambience to the religious ceremony. It is also believed that the smoke generated by sambrani wards off evil spirits and cleanses the air. That is one of the reasons why it is mainly used in temples, churches, and in religious ceremonies.
The Medicinal Benefits of Sambrani
The smoky aroma that is generated by roasting the sambrani powder on burning charcoal is therapeutic, antibacterial, and curative. It helps in enhancing sensorial perception and mental clarity. According to Ayurveda and spiritual concepts, it induces serenity, calms the nervous system, revokes negative thoughts, and fosters a quiet mental state. It helps in spiritual practices by enhancing consciousness and inner awareness.
The amazing uplifting aroma of sambrani is conducive to create a soothing ambience and calm serenity.
Sambrani oil is extracted from exotic resins and several other elements obtained from tropical forests like wood, roots, the bark of Genus Styrax species of trees. The oil is extracted by the traditional distillation process using earthen pots. In India, sambrani oil is prepared in the state of Madhya Pradesh. This oil is used in the perfumery industry, manufacture of incense, and for medical purpose.