Abhyanga Snan- Health importance of this holy bath

by amita mishra

Abhyanga snan or the holy bath is what is practiced across India for centuries during the festival of Diwali. Since childhood we have been woken up by our parents early in the morning to apply oil, massage it in and to clean our bodies on this day.  It is a bathing ritual which includes full body massage. In the western part of India a mixture of a variety of herbs and spices known as ubtan are combined and applied on this auspicious day whereas in the southern part of India the mixture is made of besan, oil and sandalwood. Have you ever wondered why we actually do this and how it benefits us?

It is an important part of our culture for a reason and we should start including this and reaping its benefits not only during festivals but also as a self-care regime.

  1. The festival of Diwali comes during the winter season and this is the season were our body heat should be kept on higher levels which is achieved by massaging sesame oil or til ka tel. The sesame oil gives warmth to our body by lowering our Pitta or known as the “fire.”
  2. We are so used to keeping our body moisturised by all the creams in the world and we often forget our roots. Sesame oil  penetrates beyond what any cream can into our skin and gives us the rich, smooth glowing look.
  3. As we massage it into our body it also clears out the pollutants, toxins and dead skin. 
  4. Massaging our body helps stimulate blood flow as well as our nerves in turn relaxing our body and calming our mind. By stimulating the nervous system we are also strengthening our body to prevent any neurological problems.
  5. Massaging with the oils also regulates our body temperature, provides a protective barrier and slows the ageing process.
  6. Oh and the great news is that you will get the best sleep you are ever going to have!

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Steps to do it right:

  1. Use warm oil. How you can warm it is to put it in a bag and hold under hot water or use double boiler method [boil hot water and in another vessel pour the required amount of oil and kep over the boiling water]. This will help preserve the nutrients in the oil to help stimulate you better.
  2. Apply the oil on the entire body, leave on for 5 minutes  and then massage and work on the pressure points where more pain or stress is there. 
  3. Leave on further for  30 minutes so that it is well absorbed well.
  4. Followed by application of Ubtan which is an ayurvedic mixture, which was used as soap in the olden times.
  5. Ubtan preparation: Ubtan consisting of Kapur (Camphor), Chandan (Sandalwood), Haldi (Turmeric), Rose Petals extracts, Orange Peel, Any other flowers/herbs. Mix all these ingredients and apply.
  6. Massage each part of the body in a clockwise manner and massage the head in anti-clockwise manner and leave on for 10-15 minutes and then a hot shower.
  7. Scrub thoroughly and then wash with either soap or just warm water.


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       Most importantly always make sure to pat dry your skin in most sensitive after a shower.

    Oils that are used during Abhyanga snan:

  • Sesame
  • Ashwagandha
  • Dashamula
  • Sunflower
  • Coconut
  • Safflower
  • Mustard
  • Corn
  • Flaxseed

Know that by treating your body well you are always going to be at your peak condition. Start including this regime this winter and let us know how you feel!



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