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Part 1

The peak of monsoon, the wet season is spread out between the months of June, July and August. On the 17th of July, during the middle of the season, Sun changes his direction and the transmigration of the Sun into the Dakshinaayana phase is known as Karkaataka Sankranthi. This marks the 1st day of the month of Karkitakam on the Indian Lunar Calender.

Kerala, the cradle of Ayurveda, where the science is a way of life rather than a medical system, follows a very special ritual of using an assortment of 10 herbs for dietary, religious and cosmetic purposes during the month.These assorted 10 herbs are named Dashapushpam or 10 flowers. Though the name implies to 10 flowers, actually the whole herbs are used and the interesting fact is that most of these herbs bear either small or inconspicuous flowers. The reason for the name could have sprung up from the ritual followed by the women of adorning their hair with the bouquet of these supposedly auspicious herbs during the Karkitakam month.

Lot of religious importance is being attached to Dashapushpam, to make it a custom so that the society as a whole benefits from the positive medicinal health benefits of the herbs. The commonness of these herbs is that almost all of them sprout out of the wet earth cooled by the summer showers and soaked by the monsoons. They mature and reach the flowering stage along with the monsoon, as it progresses and maximises with Karkaataka Sankranthi.

The month of Karkitakam almost corresponds to Aadi or Aashada of the Indian Solar Calender, the month which is believed to be haunted by evil elements and requisites extra health care. There exists a scientific truth behind the belief. The gushing monsoon waters drag all the filth along their path and get polluted. As the intensity of rains reduce these gushing waters meander and puddle wherever possible depositing all the pollutants wherever they rest. The germs make a home of these waters and enjoy a jolly ride on the mosquitos, rats, cockroaches and a host of other vectors who are waiting to conduct a disease spreading tour for these germ guests.

Such being the scenario the need of the hour is to detoxify the polluted natural elements viz land, water and air. Also a barrier has to be erected to protect the people and houses from these unfavourable elements. Dashapushpam accomplishes the dual tasks efficiently to pin point precision and hence the tradition of Dashapushpam was being imposed strictly.

Each of these herbs is distinct in their medicinal properties.

Common name Binomial name Malayalam name

  1. Slender dwarf morning-glory Evolvulus alsinoides വിഷ്ണുക്രാന്തി (Vishnukranthi)

  2. lilac tasselflower Emilia sonchifolia മുയൽ ചെവിയൻ (Muyal cheviyan)

  3. Biophytum sensitivum Biophytum sensitivum മുക്കുറ്റി (Mukkutti)

  4. Little ironweed Cyanthillium cinereum പൂവാംകുറുന്നില (Poovaamkurunnila)

  5. Golden eye-grass Curculigo orchioides നിലപ്പന (Nilappana)

  6. Morning glory Ipomoea sepiaria തിരുതാളി (Thiruthaali)

  7. Mountain knotgrass Aerva lanata ചെറുള (cheroola)

  8. Indian doab or Bahama grass Cynodon dactylon കറുക (Karuka)

  9. False daisy Eclipta alba കയ്യോന്നി (Kayyonni)

  10. Balloon plant Cardiospermum halicacabum ഉഴിഞ്ഞ (Uzhinja)

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