A Day with Camphor

burning camphor

Standing before the deities placed in the temple of our home, we begin our day offering prayers for our well being. The usual ritual includes lighting the lamp, incense stick, and burning the camphor. Incidentally camphor has taken a centre stage in my life, though my reverence began with it as a symbol of religion.

In fact, every temple in India makes use of camphor for arati (offering camphor lamp). Nevertheless, the cumulative effect of the camphor and the ringing bells turns therapeutic. It stirs various emotions and the mind goes into abeyance.

When I burn camphor and watch its progress, it reminds me of a stage by stage ‘purification of soul’; metaphorically speaking. Watching the ‘white, volatile, crystalline substance’ disappear, little by little, has often made me aware of the reality; and its perfume a reminder of cleansing.

Apparently, some of the practitioners of alternative and complementary treatment methods (e.g. Healing, Reiki) recommend the use of camphor. Probably, for those who deal with the ways of the subconscious and the spiritual, camphor becomes synonymous with well-being. Of course, religion and spirituality has had a deep-rooted relation.

Indeed, the medicinal property of camphor is world renowned, especially in home remedies. Be it an insect bite or cough, a pure camphor is crushed, mixed along with the relevant natural products and served as a cure. Interestingly, it has found its way into kitchen as a flavouring agent.   However, we have to make sure it is not the “easily available” synthetic camphor.

As the day comes to an end, following the ritual of lighting the lamp in the evening, I reach out the lit matchstick to the camphor. In an instance the fire catches, sways and takes the melting camphor along. It burns till the last flicker, leaving no past to worry about. My mind starts reeling.

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