Celebrating Diwali with a Turmeric Bath
May every aspect of your skincare be as luminous and wonderful as the lights on the lamps of Diwali.
Diwali is the Indian “festival of lights” that celebrates the triumph of good over evil. This five day religious festival is celebrated by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and Newar Buddhists and although each faith focuses on different historical events and stories, there are cultural traditions that are shared universally, like sweets, special foods and oil baths.
Also known as Divali or Deepavali, this celebration features candles and clay lamps called diyas to light up the evenings, with the spirit of light winning out over darkness as well as the blessings of freedom, victory and enlightenment.
The main festival day occurs on different dates each fall, synching with the Hindu lunar calendar and taking place generally in October or November. In 2021, the celebration begins on November 4th.
The cleanse of Diwali is significant and goes back through the ages. This special bath in essential oils is a cleansing ritual that happens on the second day of the festival. Known as Choti Diwali, it is highlighted by the traditional bath before dawn after a full body massage using scented oils and is thought to prevent a person from going to narak or hell.
The oldest member of the family places three drops of sesame oil on the foreheads of the rest of the family or the women of the house apply the drops of oil to the foreheads of the men. Sesame oil is thought to keep the body protected and warm during this chilly, autumn time.
For the bath, a specific Ayurveda ritual of ubtan is used rather than commercial soap. It contains turmeric, sandalwood, rose, orange peels and milk cream to cleanse during the cleansing bath. A celebratory breakfast featuring homemade delicacies rounds out the morning, welcoming in goodness and happiness for all.
Oil on the skin is essential for moisturizing, cleansing the skin of environmental toxins, pollutants and dead skin cells and increasing the circulation of blood. An oil bath is a stress reliever to calm the mind and help relieve the effects of depression and anxiety as well as promote deep sleep.
Used in the bathing ritual, turmeric, culled from the root of a form of ginger native to Southeast Asia, possesses curcumin as an active ingredient. This powerful anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antioxidant has been used in Ayurvedic medicine and skincare for hundreds of years. It is detoxifying and exfoliating, and in skincare it is extremely helpful with inflammation, acne scarring and puffiness.