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The Sacred Essence of Sandalwood (Chandan) in Hindu Rituals and Festivals

Posted By ServDharm


Posted on November 29 2023

Sandalwood, known as "Chandan '' in Sanskrit, holds a venerable position in Hindu spirituality. It is an important and sacred part of rituals, offerings, and pujas.

Revered for its aromatic allure, spiritual significance, and historical importance, sandalwood has been an integral part of Hindu practices for centuries. In this exploration, we delve into the origin, significance, captivating stories, and various uses of sandalwood in various Hindu festivals.

Origin and Significance

Sandalwood has deep roots in Hindu traditions, with its usage dating back to ancient times. The fragrant heartwood of the sandalwood tree, scientifically known as Santalum album, is highly esteemed for its distinct fragrance and spiritual resonance. The tree's scientific name, Santalum, is derived from the Sanskrit word "Chandana," emphasising its association with the sacred substance.

In Hinduism, sandalwood is regarded as pure and sacred, symbolising the essence of divine beauty and spirituality. Its cooling properties, both physical and metaphorical, are believed to soothe the mind and elevate the soul during religious ceremonies. The sandalwood paste, often used in the form of "chandan," is applied on the forehead, heart, throat, and other parts of the body during rituals to invoke divine blessings and purify the self.

Various Uses in Hindu Festivals

1) Diwali

Diwali, the festival of lights, sees the extensive use of sandalwood in the form of incense sticks and oil lamps. The fragrant aroma of sandalwood incense enhances the spiritual ambiance, creating a serene atmosphere for prayers and worship. Sandalwood oil lamps, known as "diyas," symbolise the dispelling of darkness and the triumph of light over ignorance.

2) Navratri

During Navratri, the festival dedicated to the worship of Goddess Durga, sandalwood is often offered as part of the sacred nine nights' rituals. Devotees anoint the idol of the Goddess with sandalwood paste, symbolising purity and devotion.

3) Shivratri

Lord Shiva, the ascetic deity, is especially fond of sandalwood. Devotees celebrate Shivaratri by applying sandalwood paste on the Lingam, representing the divine union of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. The soothing fragrance is believed to please Lord Shiva and invoke his blessings.

4) Holi

Even during the vibrant festival of colours, sandalwood finds its place. Devotees apply coloured sandalwood paste on each other's foreheads, fostering a sense of unity and spiritual connection amid the festive revelry.


Interesting Stories Around Sandalwood

1) Lord Krishna and Sandalwood

In popular folktales, Lord Krishna was fond of wearing sandalwood paste on his body. The sweet aroma of sandalwood is said to have attracted not only the gopis (cowherd girls) but also the cows in the pasture. This story symbolises the magnetic and alluring nature of spiritual devotion.

2) Sage Narada's Musical Sandalwood

Sage Narada, a celestial musician and devotee of Lord Vishnu, is said to have crafted a unique veena (musical instrument) from sandalwood. As he played the veena, the melodious tunes echoed divine vibrations, creating an atmosphere of tranquillity and spiritual bliss.

3) Sandalwood in Ayurveda

Beyond its spiritual significance, sandalwood holds a prominent place in Ayurveda, the ancient system of Indian medicine. Sandalwood is believed to have cooling properties, making it a key ingredient in Ayurvedic preparations for skincare, meditation, and promoting mental clarity.

4) Sandalwood and Akshaya Tritiya

Akshaya Tritiya, an auspicious day in the Hindu calendar, witnesses the purchase of gold and other valuable items. Sandalwood is also considered an auspicious purchase on this day, symbolising purity, prosperity, and the eternal nature of divinity.

5) Sandalwood in Marriage Ceremonies

In Hindu weddings, sandalwood paste is often applied to the bride and groom as a symbol of purity and auspiciousness. The fragrant scent is believed to attract positive energies, ensuring a harmonious and blissful married life.

6) Sandalwood and Meditation

Yogis and spiritual seekers have long used sandalwood as an aid in meditation. The calming aroma is believed to facilitate focus and concentration, creating an ideal environment for deep contemplation and spiritual practice.

7) The Divine Sandalwood Forests of Dwaitavana

In the Mahabharata, there is mention of Dvaitavana, a sacred forest filled with sandalwood trees. This celestial forest was a favourite retreat for sages and ascetics, who engaged in meditation and penance amidst the serene fragrance of sandalwood.

8) Sandalwood and Goddess Lakshmi

During the festival of Deepavali, the worship of Goddess Lakshmi is central to the celebrations. Devotees believe that burning sandalwood incense and offering sandalwood paste to Goddess Lakshmi brings prosperity and abundance into their homes.

9) The Sandalwood Garland of Hanuman

In the Ramayana, it is mentioned that Lord Hanuman adorned a garland made of fragrant sandalwood beads while he searched for the medicinal herb Sanjivani to save Lakshmana. The soothing aroma of the sandalwood is said to have provided strength and solace to Hanuman during his heroic quest.

10) Sandalwood in Funeral Rites

Even in times of mourning, sandalwood plays a crucial role. The use of sandalwood logs in the funeral pyre is considered a sacred tradition, symbolising the purification of the departed soul and facilitating a smooth transition to the afterlife.

11) Sandalwood and the Sage Agastya

Sage Agastya, a revered figure in Hinduism, is said to have planted sandalwood trees in the southern regions of India. His act of cultivating these fragrant trees symbolises the dissemination of knowledge and spirituality to the southern parts of the country, enriching the entire land with the sacred essence of sandalwood.

12) Sandalwood Boat of Raja Harishchandra

Raja Harishchandra, known for his unwavering commitment to truth, is said to have built a boat entirely from sandalwood. This boat, infused with the divine aroma, became a symbol of righteousness and integrity, navigating the waters of virtue even in the face of life's storms.

13) Sandalwood and the Kamadhenu

For all devoted Hindus,, the Kamadhenu is a divine cow that grants wishes. It is believed that Kamadhenu resided in a forest filled with sandalwood trees. The aromatic ambiance of the sandalwood forest is said to have enhanced the divine energy of Kamadhenu, making it a sacred and fulfilling abode.

14) Sandalwood in Samhitas and Scriptures

The ancient Indian scriptures, including the Vedas and Puranas, make frequent references to the usage of sandalwood in rituals and ceremonies. These sacred texts prescribe the application of sandalwood paste as a means to invoke blessings, purify the surroundings, and elevate the spiritual consciousness of the worshippers.

15) Sandalwood and the Chariot of the Sun God

In Hindu cosmology, the Sun God, Surya, is believed to ride a chariot across the sky. It is said that the wheels of this celestial chariot are made from sandalwood. As the chariot traverses the heavens, the fragrance of sandalwood is thought to spread divine blessings and light to all corners of the universe.

Written by Puja Paul  



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