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LAUNG A CONDIMENT IN ANCIENT HINDU LITERATURE

LAUNG  A CONDIMENT IN ANCIENT HINDU LITERATURE (a short note)

Dr. Satish K. Kapoor


Laung or clove is the dried unopened, highly odoriferous and acrid flower-bud and twig-tip of Eugenia Caryopylate (Syzgium aromaticum; Eugenia aromatica; Carophyllus aromaticus) of the Myrtaceae family. lt is believed to be the native of Moluccas and of China but has been widely used as a condiment, preservative and medicine ancient times. Laung also known as Lavanga is cultivated in South lndia mainly in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. lts popular Sanskrit names are: Deva Kusuma (divine flower), Chandana Pushpaka (having fragrant flowers like sandalwood) and Shri Prasuna (sacred to the goddess Lakshmi). lt finds mention in the Raghuvamsha (6.57) of Kalidasa, in Charaka Samhita (sutra 5.74) and Sushruta Samhita (sutra 46.484) and in many nighantus or medical lexicons. Due to its disinfectant and bactericidal properties it is mixed With aromatic substances for use as an oblation in the sacrifical fire. The Agnihotra (fire- offering) performed exclusively With laungs and ghee is highly recommended by tantrics for material and spiritual benefits. Holy men sanctify laungs and small cardamons to be served as prasad. ln addition to its use in culinary preparation (viz sweetmeats, pickle, curry chutney, etc.) the spice is chewed to perfume the breath, clear the throat or ward off flatulence or vomitary condition. Laung is tucked into tambula - rolled betel leaves coated With lime and catechu paste and filled With shreds of areca nut and other ingredients - and served to guests as - mark of hospitality. Some people mix laung or two in tobacco and smoke the contents through a hubble-bubble. in Western lndia a matrimonial custom (now virtually obsolete) enjoined on the bride and the bridegroom to jointly cut a laung by their teeth in the presence of family members With a view to providing social sanction to their new relationship. ln the Ayurveda, Laung is regarded as bitter (katu), Pungent (tikta), light (laEhu), stomachic (agnidipaka), tasteful (ruchikari), carrninative (udara vataghana), antineuralqic (vatashulaghana),  by Dr. Satish K. Kapoor expectorant (kaphanihsaraka), curative in dental diseases  (da ntarogahara),  diuretic  (rnutrajanana), aphrodislac (vrishya), anti-emetic (chhardinigrahana), analgesic (vedanhara), refrigerant (trishnanigrahana), sore-healer (vranaropaka) and cleanser (vranashodhaka), anthetmintic (krimighana) and useful to the eyes (netrahitakari). Laung subsides the three somatic doshas - vayu, pitta and kapha (tit. wind, bile and phlegma) and is put to various uses in powdered drugs, infusions, pastes, elixirs, madiicated spiriuons liquids medicated ghee oil, boluses and pills. Ayurvedic medicicines with laung as the main ingredient (viz Lavangadi Churna, Laung Chatuhsama, Lavangadi-vati and Lavangodaka) are traditionally served to cough, asthma, colic, hiccup, ttphoid fever and nervous debility. lts oil is carminative, anti-spasmodic anti septic and a mild anaesthetic. Externally, it is applied in cases of toothaches, skin diseases, migraine, arthritis and rheumatism. lt is also used as a flavouring agent in relishes, preserves liqueurs and perfumes, as a disinfectant, in soaps and dentifices and for the synthesis of vanillin, an alkaloid derived from the plant Vanilla.  (OCR- Machine Typing. E&OE)

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