The Oil Bath.


As a girl, I sat on a stool

the ayyamma liberally smothered  sesame oil

on my head  and on my body.

The oil  was allowed to settle down. After fifteen minutes

she shampooed  my hair  with shikakai

and bathed  my body with the same powder

she poured  water boiled in a copper vessel

called vemba . Dried cow dung cakes were used as fuel

My mother took charge  of me  after the bath.

she dried the hair

by  lighting sambrani holders with coal

sprinkled  sambrani powder

a fragrance emanated. The hair  turned absolutely dry. Sambrani was used to

ward off cold attacks.

My mother tied my hair in  a loose knot.

Oil baths were on  Tuesdays and Fridays

not a week passed without this ceremonial bath.

 

ayyamma — nanny.

sambrani— Benzoin resin.

vemba— vessel used to boil water

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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