As a child I looked forward to the prasad after any religious ceremony that consisted of panjiri (a mixture of dry fruits and roasted wheat flour) and Panchamrit, a drink with a blissful lingering taste that combined the earthy flavour of honey, tanginess of curd and nutty taste of ghee, blended with sweetened milk. That taste of one spoon of Panchamrit always reminds me of poojas, rituals and family gatherings.
Panchamrit or Panchamrutham is an essential requirement for any pooja according to the Hindu religion. It is the divine offering to the deities and also used during Abhisheka. The word is a combination of two words, Pancha (five) and Amrut (divine nectar of Gods, immortality).
According to Mahabharta, Panchamrit was one of the ingredients that emerged during the Samudra Mathan also known as Ksheera Saagar mathan (churning the ocean of milk).
A concoction of five ingredients, milk, honey, curd, sugar and ghee, it is called the drink of Gods.
All ingredients have specific symbolic meanings. Milk represents purity and piousness, honey produced by bees with absolute dedication and cooperation symbolises sweet speech and unity, sugar is about sweetness and bliss, yogurt/curd indicates prosperity and ghee is for strength and victory.
According to Ayurveda these five ingredients have immense health benefits when combined in correct proportions. Panchamrit nourishes the Sapt Dhatu - the seven bodily tissues, Shukra Dhatu (reproductive tissues), Majja Dhatu (bone marrow and nervous tissues), Asthi Dhatu (bone, teeth), Medas Dhatu (fatty tissues), Mamsa Dhatu (muscle tissues), Rakta Dhatu ( blood ) and Rasa Dhatu (plasma for strength, immunity and vitality).
It balances the Pitta Dosha, improves immunity, enhances brain function, memory and creative abilities. It clears complexion and keeps hair healthy. It boosts health of mother and foetus if consumed during pregnancy.
The Five Sacred Ingredients
Panchamrit was traditionally made from cow's milk. According to Ayurveda cows' milk has a cooling effect upon our body and mind. It enhances Ojas, the essential energy responsible for a long healthy life, radiance, strength, vitality, immunity and mental and emotional wellness.
Curd or yogurt is the only fermented food that Ayurveda recognizes as Satiric. It is a probiotic and improves the digestion and balances vata dosha.
Pure honey is what Ayurveda prescribes as it has all the required enzymes. It improves digestion, clears complexion and makes skin smooth. It is easily digestible and gets assimilated in the blood-stream instantly when consumed. Honey is often the Anuran a carrier or medium for Ayurvedic medicines.
Sugar is the symbol of sweetness and bliss. Ayurveda recommends candy sugar or Mishri. It is also used in many Ayurvedic formulas and churnas (medicinal powders). Candy sugar has a cooling effect on the body.
Ghee, the most treasured food of Ayurveda has remarkable healing properties for the body and mind. A good source of Vitamins A and E with antioxidants that offer medicinal benefit.
Traditional Recipe for Panchamrit
These five ingredients when mixed in the right proportion improve each other’s gunas or good qualities. According to Ayurveda, ghee and honey should never be mixed in equal quantities.
Traditionally, Panchamrit is prepared in a silver bowl. This metal has antimicrobial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory and wound healing properties.
Though the basic recipe of Panchamrit is the same, there may be certain regional variations. Basil leaves, dry fruits and bananas are added in some places. The shelf life of Panchamrit depends on the climate and season. In winter it stays good for 12 hours but in summer season it turns rancid within a few hours.
Panchamrit is a must for religious ceremonies but can be consumed every-day. In fact, Ayurveda recommends it for nine months during pregnancy.
(Nupur Roopa is a freelance writer, and a life coach for mothers. She writes articles on environment, food, history, parenting and travel.)
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