Friday, August 15, 2008

A mysterious sort of grass

I see these little baskets of grass often in the market in Bhuleshwar. Do you know what this grass is, or how it is used? I've wondered about it so often that I decided to post a photo. I'm simply dying to know!
I have a pet theory, that these are herbs used to flavour drinking water. As a child, I remember drinking herb-flavoured water at my friend Sugatha's home. They are from Kerala, and her mom made herb-flavoured water at home every day. It looked like pale whisky, but smelled delicious and the taste? Well, it tasted like water, but you felt ever so virtuous drinking it!
Maybe the grass in these baskets is actually a herb that goes into tea? Or maybe it is some vile concoction that you drink first thing in the morning for arthritis or diabetes! Oh, someone please tell me, and put me out of my misery!


the twenty second line said...

is it wheat grass?

Ravi Ramakantan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ravi Ramakantan said...

That's an easy one Deepa. I just had to ask my wife who is a Gujju. Pat -came the answer.
This is Wheatgrass.
In the month of Shraavan, the following is a tradition in some families (this is supposed to get them good husbands!!)It turns out that my wife too had done this and see what she got!
Grains of wheat are soaked in water and transferred to baskets such as these, where they germinate and grow rapidly to about 6 -9 inches in a week's time. Some women (girls) have a custom of fasting while performing puja to these plants. The strange thing is that during this time, they are not allowed to eat salt!

It would interesting to dig into the science behind this tradition.

Amongst Gujarathis, this Pooja wheatgrass is not eaten.

Apparently, the bengalis too use this as a part of Durga Pooja and during Navratri.

My colleague in our Ayurved Department tells me that Wheatgrass extract has a lot of medicinal value - especially in the treatment of cancer (that was news to me). So I Googled and found a whole lot of stuff including this one:

" Wheatgrass is renowned for its therapeutic value since ancient times. It has been a part of India's rich cultural heritage and its significance is reflected in many rituals. Hindu offer 'Durva' (Green grass) to the elephant God Ganesha and grow Wheatgrass to worship for nine days during 'Navratri' (Durga Puja / Laxmi festival) every year since ancient times. Just like many other things of Indian origion, the popularity of Wheatgrass grew worldwide after it was highlighted in westem countries.

Wheatgrass juice/powder is extract from baby wheatgrass. It has been know to have wonderful healing properties for thousand of years. It was first popularised over 30 years ago by Dr.Ann Wigmore of Hippcrates Health Institute in Boston, in improving the health of cancer patients. Now millions of people worldwide are discovering it is many health benefits. Our Wheatgrass is sprouted from organic Wheatgrass contains 70% Cholorophyll. Plant uses chlorophyll to turn sunshine into energy. Hence, Wheatgrass juice os often called Liquid Sunshine. It has very similar molecular structure to human red blood cells thus having the immune-boosting and blood building benefits.

Fresh Wheatgrass juice / powder contains 17 amino acids, lots of active enzymes, vitamins A,B,C,E, etc. & Minerals Calcium, Iron, Sodium, Potassium, Magnesium, Zinc, Phosphorus, Selenium, etc. that are good to our bodies Wheatgrass has the capacity to absorb 92 of the 208 minerals from the soil".

Probably the high content of Sodium and Potassium may have something to do with salt restriction...

Any questions? Any one? Class over!! :-)

the twenty second line said...

wheat grass is sold in health stores and farmers market here and is a big rage.. used in salads. health freaks eat this big time.

Deepa Krishnan said...

Dear Ravi - thank you for such a fabulous explanation! I looked up darbha grass and found this very interesting page:
Scroll down the page to see how the darbha grass is wrapped around the finger.

Ravi Ramakantan said...

I am a little lost here Deepa. I think the image you are referring to is the close-up one with a bit of movement unsharpness and the one below that. That's OK. Looks like it is wrapped round the ring finger much as we do - right?
But, is there a connection between this and wheatgrass?
Or we just grassing around in this post? :-)

Imagine a day without the Internet and Google .. we would all perish!

sardee said...

When u conduct pujas, u wrap it around your finger, specially when splashing ganga jal. why i dont know. find out.

Deepa Krishnan said...

Ravi, I thought wheatgrass and darba/durva grass were the same thing (because both are mentioned in that article you pasted). On second thoughts, they seem to be two different types of grasses.

Ravi Ramakantan said...

Sardee: There is so much to research. Why ring finger? (in all cultures). Why the sacred thread, Why face east in doing prayers in the morning and west in the evenings (Vitamin D?)

And Deepa, thanks for clarifying. I had thought the two WERE indeed different. There is very little stuff on darba grass on the net though.

Smruti said...

Hey Deepa, I am Smruti living in USA presently, but born and brought up in King Circle. I love reading your blog.

Anyways this grass is for worship. Its called "juwara" in Gujrati. We have a fast during the Shravana month, where little girls and ladies worship this plant every morning for 5 days. I remember doing pooja of it when I was young and I used to fast. During this fast nothing salty can be eaten. For little girls that fast is called "Molaakat", for unmarried girls it called "Jaya Parvati" and for married women its called "Diwaasaa". Some people grow this wheat grass at home, but nowadays they have started selling them. Thats why you see them at Bhuleshwar.

Please visit my blog if you get a chance

Shri said...

Hi Deepa,

Could you please tell me where exactly do they sell wheatgrass in Bhuleshwar? I have found that wheatgrass powder is sold, but I want to grow wheatgrass at home.

stabhd said...

I know am hopelessly late, but the grass in the image is what is grown in traditional north Indian homes during the navarathri period as a symbol of the Goddess's blessing using Jaun. Usually a small pot is set alongside the ritual prayer beads, kamandal(water pot), the ghee lit lamp and earthenwate kalash that is adorned with mango leaves and topped with a fresh coconut.
All of these are disposed of on the day following the navratri fast conclusion with the wheatgrass not being consumed a la health food.
Instead, a few strands of the grass are presented by the daughter of the family to each member as a benediction for continued prosperity...and are stored in sundry wallets for the next six months.
Durva, on the other hand, is the thorny, hardy indian tussocky grass used in numerous vedic rituals along with Kusha (which you would've seen people offering Ganpati in Mumbai alongside the red gudhal/hibiscus). The use and purpose of the two are very different.

Deepa Krishnan said...

Thank you stabhd, I wish someone would demystify all the rituals so we could choose to either keep them or throw them away. What a load of crock it all sounds like, when there's no explanation. Why daughters? Why keep the grass? Why this grass and not the other? It is very frustrating.

Anonymous said...

It was certainly interesting for me to read the article. Thank you for it. I like such themes and everything that is connected to them. I would like to read more on that blog soon.

kotus123 said...

Durga grass has the ability reclaim salty marshy lands - can survive in really inhospitable land going down to 5 meters
Belongs to the plant family to which Wheat, Rice, Barley, Miller etc

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