Let food be thy medicine and medicine thy food- Hippocrates
Panchamrit is a Sanskrit term made by combining two words- Panch (means five) and Amrit (means divine nectar of Gods, immortality). In some regions, it is also known as Charanamrit (nectar from the feet of Gods). Panchamrit is made by mixing these five ingredients -milk, curd, honey, mishri and ghee.
In Hindu religion, Panchamrit is considered very sacred and is used as an offering to God during pooja and also used for Abhishek (religious bath of the divine).After the pooja, it is distributed as Prasad to the devotees. The usage of “Panchamrit” in Hindu rituals is considered as the oldest synbiotic food (a combination of both pre-biotic and pro-biotic) in the history of mankind. It is a concoction of five ingredients – Raw Cow’s Milk, Curd, Honey, Mishri (rock Sugar), and Ghee. Other than these key ingredients, cardamom and basil are also added. According to Mahabharata, Panchamrit was one of the valuable ingredients that emerged during the Samudra Manthan or Ksheera Sagar Manthan (churning the ocean of milk). Each one of the ingredients has a symbolic meaning to it. Milk symbolizes purity and piousness, honey stands for sweet speech and unity (as it is produced with absolute dedication and cooperation), sugar represents sweetness and bliss, curd indicates prosperity and ghee represents strength and victory.
Health benefits of Panchamrit:
- Natural skin cleanser and helps to nourish skin cells and promotes natural glow
- Enhances memory, grasping power, creative ability and brain development
- Boosts health of mother and foetus during pregnancy
- Keeps hairs healthy
- Improves digestion
- Strengthens bones
- Builds immunity
Significance of each Ingredient:
Milk: Raw cow’s milk carries super efficient antioxidants-Vitamin K and Beta Carotene which counter the free radicals (What are they?) in the body. It is the next best thing after mother’s milk. Cow’s milk is rich source of calcium, proteins, vitamin B12 and vitamin D.
Curd: Curd is a provider of both bacteria (pro-biotic) as well as the food for the bacteria (pre-biotic). Curd has a cooling effect on body. Amino acids and enzymes in it help in digestion. It also provides protein and calcium.
Ghee: Ghee carries antioxidants – vitamin K and beta-carotene which counter the free radicals in the body. It is the most treasured food which has healing properties.
Honey: Honey carries the enzymes required to break down the food and aid absorption of minerals and vitamins in the body. It contains anti-oxidants, anti- bacterial and anti- microbial properties which helps in digestion, aids infections, clear complexion and makes skin smooth
Mishri (rock sugar): It provides energy, helps in keeping the immunity high and aids digestion. It also enhances other ingredients.
Basil and cardamom: Basil is an anti-inflammatory food which aids in digestion by balancing the acid in the body. It is an eixir that helps detoxify the liver and a super source of iron too. Cardamom is quite an all rounder with powerful antioxidants.
However, there may be certain regional variations in ingredients. Most South Indians add raw bananas to the Panchamrit. Raw banana is a great source of good bacteria for the gut (pre-biotic).
In a nutshell, a simple sweet concoction is not just super tasty but also prepares our body to consume all sorts of fried food and sweets in large quantities. The free radical damage and disturbed digestion from eating and overeating heavy, oily and sweet food is countered by the intake of pre-biotic, pro-biotic, antioxidants and enzymes.
Panchamrit is a perfect example of how our traditional foods are backed by science to provide us maximum health benefits.
Happy Festivals and Cheers to Panchamrit!
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