Sindur Tree of Nepal or Sindure (सिन्दुर को रुख)
|Botanical name: Bixa Orellana L.|
English name: Annatto, Lipstick Tree
Nepali Name: Sindure or Sindur
In today's blog, I am so happy to share my pictures of shrub-like tree called Sindur or Sindure tree of Nepal - not only because the tree and its fruit look so exotic-beautiful-ornamental, but has a deeper religious significance and special meaning in Nepali culture. Sindur or Sindoor is an important auspicious red vermillion powder that is used in many Nepali religious rituals while worshiping gods. Most importantly, in Nepali Hindu wedding rituals, "sindur halne" (सिउदो मा सिन्दूर हाल्ने) is the tradition of applying sindur powder (vermillion) in the bride's upper forehead and parting line of the hair by the groom. This signifies acceptance of an eternal partner in life. This ritual is considered extremely auspicious and has been carried on for centuries. Once married, many Nepali Hindu woman will wear sindur on a daily basis for husband's longevity and security. Sindur is a mark of a married woman in Hinduism. Single woman do not wear sindur in the hair, but wear a dot on the forehead. Most of the sindur that are found in the market these days are made of synthetic dyes and chemicals. The sindur tree here in the picture is a sacred symbol of purity. The elderly local villager told me that the pulp that is surrounding the seeds are made into pure natural sindur. During the auspicious dates for marriage to be performed (vedic tradition suggests certain auspicious dates), people come from all over to obtain the real natural form of sindur. He also added that these days, many Nepalese prefer to buy commercial manufactured sindur rather than the natural form because it is convenient and also everyone does not have easy access to the tree.
The picture of sindur tree were captured in Pitaunji area - although Pitaunji may not look like a tourist destinations to many visitors, but this is the place where I first saw the Sindur Tree of Nepal. Pitaunji is a sleepy little farming village tucked in the Nawalparasi area of Mukundpur, on the way to Gorkha Brewery Pvt. Ltd. I have many fond memories of spending several winter days with my always-cheerful friend, Pratima, and her farmhouse in Nawalparasi. We love the rustic tradition of country life and enjoy strolling around the meadows, farm lands and watch the beauty of surrounding Narayani River. One late afternoon, I was busy capturing the images of the area and a local village boy came and asked me, "sindur ko rukh dekhnu bayako cha?" (translation - have you ever seen Sindur tree of Nepal?). No, I have never seen such a tree or even heard about sindur tree. I thought sindur, (vermillion powder) that we use in the modern days came from a mixture of some chemicals. The village boy took us to see the place where the sindur tree was in bloom. I was fascinated to see the tree and its fruits; photographing it was the highlight of my day. I would like to thank Asha for providing me a welcome snapshot of sindur tree in her area across the street.
Come along with me to explore more Nepali culture, a day in the country, simplicity of life and having fun in the meantime...and let the Sindur tree tell you the pictorial story..... I am happy to share the pictures of this attractive tree with its brilliant red fruits for my blog readers.
My thank also goes to Dr. Narayan Prasad Manandhar, the author of "Plant and People of Nepal" for identifying the plant, and providing me with the botanical name, when I sent him the enclosed pictures. Here is the link to his book available through Amazon. He has spent decades in a firsthand study of the riches of Nepal's flora and the human uses thereof. He has conducted field research (on foot) in all 75 districts of Nepal in a lifelong effort to record the utilization of plants for food and medicine as well as diverse other applications. More than 800 drawings by the author illustrate the text..... continue reading, click here.
|...small evergreen tree with bright maroon-red heart shaped fruits, when ripe the fruit splits open revealing orange-red pulp and seeds.|
|Here are some informative links about sindur tree (Bixa Orellana L.), please check the following links here, here, here.|
|... freshly picked, stunningly beautiful bunches of pods from the sindur tree|
|The village boy breaks open the fruit exposing orange-red pulp and the seeds - roughly each capsules have more than 50 seeds.|
|The red-orange die is staining the fingers and hand...|
|The pigment that is derived from the seed will color anything that it touches. It is used as a natural coloring agent for food, used in fabric dye, body painting, in cosmetics, and many other industrial dye.|
|... close-up picture - of the spiny maroon-red fruit of sindur tree (Bixa Orellana)|
|The fruits are harvested before they start to turn brown and capsules split open. The seeds are collected and dried in the open air, cleaned and processed.|
|A beautifully carved, traditional Nepali Sindur box (सिन्दूर को बट्टा) is given to the bride by the groom during wedding ceremony - photo courtesy - to read more about traditional Nepali wedding, please check this wonderful and informative blog - view all posts under weddings - "Musings from an American-Nepali Household".|
|Woman wearing Sindoor (सिन्दूर) - photo courtesy - It is a traditional red or orange-red colored cosmetic powder, usually worn by married women along the parting of their hair. Usage of sindoor denotes that a woman is married in many Hindu communities, and ceasing to wear it usually implies widowhood. The main component of traditional sindoor is usually vermilion.|
Sindoor is traditionally applied at the beginning or completely along the parting-line of a woman’s hair or as a dot on the forehead. Sindoor is the mark of a married woman in Hinduism. Single women wear the dot in different colors, but do not apply sindoor in their head. Hindu widows do not wear the sindoor, signifying that their husband is no longer alive. The sindoor is first applied to the woman by her husband on the day of her wedding. After this time she must apply this every day herself in the parting of her hairline........continue reading..... (source - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
If you have any expertise or knowledge you want to share with us about the Sindur Tree of Nepal, please write in the comment section of the blog. Thank you.
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