Story of Mahua Seed Oil
The Mahua seed oil is one such story. A bottle carrying a viscous liquid, the colour of young amber is the result of yet again going back to customs which believed that man and nature must exist in complete harmony. The Gadchiroli forest which can be revered as the “Lungs Of Maharashtra” is where many native species of trees grow to their full splendour. The tree chosen to highlight here is the Mahua (also known by many other names across India) and the oil which is extracted from the mahua seeds.
Most natural forests still have the local inhabitants who live amongst its protection and are carriers of its secrets. The tribals who live in India revere the Mahua tree and its flowers, leaves and bark form a part of their medicinal and otherwise unique diet. The flowers are edible but only up to a limited quantity. Nature doesn’t encourage overindulgence and the tribals understand. The seeds of the pods of the Mahua tree are a source of the nutritious oil which is used in many ways.
While Mahua oil is absolutely edible, WE DO NOT RECOMMEND THAT YOU CONSUME THIS OIL JUST YET as the tribal folks here lack equipment and resources to work with the seeds in a hygienic manner.
- It is given as a medicine in case of stomach related ailments.
Is it ok to light lamp with any oil?
We don’t realise that when we choose an oil for our lamps, the quality of the oil has to be pure.
If not, we are inhaling toxic fumes which are detrimental to our health and that of the environment. We light so many lamps on festive occasions. In addition to Navaratri, Deepawali, Karthigai festivals we also light lamps for pujas and at temples.
There are so many oils which are sold under the label ‘lamp oil’. We see and we believe; so we buy!
What we don’t know is that these oils are actually residues of leftover oils which were previously used for high heat cooking or burning and most of the goodness is destroyed. In fact after constant heating many of these oils could be carcinogenic and extremely unsafe for consumption or external use.
Is there any alternative?
Just like we are making the switch from refined oils to cold pressed oils, it pays to learn about the traditional lamp oils as well. While pure ghee is one option, it can be too expensive affair to use regularly.
Why Switch to Mahua Oil?
Talking to learned people, streamlining a process and producing this oil has one main purpose… can you guess what it is?
It is the infallible need to not lose out any more on our rich ancient practices; be they in the form of food we eat or the treatments which are pharmaceutical recipes from nature, we must preserve them and start practising them again.
- If our team braved naxal attacks and the surprises of the forest to make this oil production possible, we should at least give it a try!
If you have been using compound mixed oils, that are in reality severely degraded oils that are left over from industrial applications, chemically treated etc, pls consider switching to oils like these.
- Mahua oil or Iluppai Ennai almost resembles ghee at temperatures lower than 23-24 degree Celsius.
Not just an absolutely sustainable alternative to chemical highly refined Diya/ Deepam oils, it will be a great way to support the livelihoods of our tribal folks, who work with Mahua flowers and supply them to alcohol production, or other industries.
- We plan to work with these native tribes over the long term and will be procuring precious wild forest produce from them going forward.
As a community if we could support a social initiative as this one, that would be a dream come!
Significance of Native Mahua Trees
- The Mahua tree is mentioned in our Puranas and is worshiped by many communities in India.
- Mahua tree in Tamil Nadu is referred to as the ‘Sthala Vriksha’ at many temples and its oil is used to light lamps.
- Every part of the tree is useful and hence indigenous tribes in the forests depend on these trees for their livelihood.
- Mahua trees are revered culturally in our country for being a super versatile tree, like the coconut tree, every part of this tree is of use and many of these applications were considered medicinal in the ancient days.
Usage Of Mahua Seed Oil
- Mahua seed oil is one of the best options for safe natural lighting. It makes the space look pretty, keeps the air free from toxins and provides an income by way of which these native trees are celebrated and more attention goes towards their survival.
- Tribal medicine practices also use Mahua oil as a pain reliever concoction for joints and there’s no harm in trying the ayurvedic practice of oil massage for the body.
- The Mahua oil is known to be most effective in repelling insects like mosquitoes. The best way to use this to our advantage is by lighting terracotta, clay, silver, brass and ceramic diyas with mahua oil as fuel.
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