Retracing the forgotten science of Aromatherapy.

Havan (हवन)

Retracing the forgotten science of Aromatherapy.

Why do we perform Havans? Why were they such an important part of our ancient Indian Vedic rituals? Why does the aroma from the Havan affect our perception of well-being? These questions may have crossed our minds on numerous occasions. 

A typical Havan consists of burning Mango wood/Jackfruit wood along with Sandalwood, Agarwood and clarified butter (Ghee). Aromatic herbs like Tagar (Valeriana wallichii), Nagarmotha(Cyperus scariosus), Jatamansi (Nardostachys jatamansi), antibiotic herbs like Guggul (Commiphora wightii) and other organic materials, in a conical shaped container called Agni Kunda. This Kunda is made of metal or even bricks.

Volatile essential oils are released from the burning of the above fragrant herbs and the clarified butter together in the Agni Kunda. The synergy of their aromas diffuses into the environment when burned in this manner. Our ancestors believed that the inhalation of the synergy of this blended aromas has a subtle impact on our minds.

Recent research by a medical scientist has shown that aromas affect the part of our brain which controls our emotions. Aromas may help reduce stress levels and alter our perception of well-being.

We still do not have clinching evidence that changing the olfactory (i.e. the sense of smell) experience of a person can change their moods. However, recent research by a medical scientist has shown that sometimes, even the suggestibility of administering a particular aroma can make a person feel better. This, of course, is because of their previous experience with the aroma and not necessarily because of the smell itself.

Although our scientific understanding of using aroma from a therapeutic perspective is limited, it is evident that our ancestors had reliable results from burning different combinations of aromatic plants, depending upon the applications they were trying to use them for. They remarkably, understood that the increased body temperature that came from sitting around the agni kunda, opens up the energy tunnels of our bodies circulatory system, lymphatic system and respiratory system.

Therefore, the key to this ancient Indian ritual of the Yagya or Havan is to open up the emotional blockages in the energy tunnels of our bodies and restore a feeling of well-being.



 Herz R.S. Aromatherapy facts and fictions: A scientific analysis of olfactory effects on mood, physiology, and behavior. Int. J. Neurosci. 2009;119:263–290. doi: 10.1080/00207450802333953. 

Hwang JH. [The effects of the inhalation method using essential oils on blood pressure and stress responses of clients with essential hypertension] Taehan Kanho Hakhoe Chi. 2006;36(7):1123–34

Ali B., Al-Wabel N.A., Shams S., Ahamad A., Khan S.A., Anwar F. Essential oils used in aromatherapy: A systemic review. Asian Pac. J. Trop. Biomed. 2015;5:601–611. doi: 10.1016/j.apjtb.2015.05.007.


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