Haresh Daswani | Personal India experience
How wonderful is India? You can smell it in the air.
It might sound strange when I will tell you that this is literal. But here goes.
Our nose has sensors that can detect up to 5,000 unique scent qualities. The diverse myriad combinations that this brings forth is what is thus constructed as a unique scent. Smell does not need to go through normal brain processing. It goes straight to the memory center and activates the first instance you have experienced such situation, it makes you relive your first time, and makes you react accordingly. India is a diverse culture of scents.
Its spiritual thrust, which can be noticed through the smell of sandalwood incense sticks everywhere, points back to at least 6,000 to 10,000 years of spiritual history. For more than 10,000 years, Indians have been chanting timeless mantras that reverberate throughout the entire universe. As these mantras are repeated, their waves do not stop, they just spread and dissolve together with everything, and its repetition increases its effect. 10,000 years is equivalent to 3,650,000 days, 87,600,000 hours, 5,256,000,000 minutes, 315,360,000,000 seconds. With each second at least one mantra has been uttered, and over time, the number of people chanting has been increasing exponentially. The cosmic vibe with the idea of harmony and spiritual blessing is spread out constantly, not only benefiting the person chanting, but also the surrounding areas. India carries the vibe beginning from the incense, and spreading through its mantras reverberating through every walls, further reflected in the architecture and values of everyone. Mysticism integrating through the daily life, living the philosophy through worship.
Another distinctive scent you will find is the myriad color of Indian cuisine. The smell of traditional curries intertwine with upscale coffee shops without any conflict. The rich symbolism of being able to adjust in time and go global, without it conflicting with national identity can be found. India has, side by side, different cuisines and flavors, carrying different types of people. The rich diversity also shows that within its own culture there are different groups all able to get along and coexist, sharing cultural ideas with one another. This rich exchange has been part of India’s civilization for several thousand years, as it has been noticed in the choice of food, also reflected in its language, technology, architecture, and other fields. Openness has always been essential in India’s growth and evolution, and even further encouraged, as India’s culture is still very dynamic.
Throughout India the different distinctive scents of herbs goes along with its commerce and culture. Its core industries, established millenias ago, still exist in many areas, and are still sustaining well. Just like its cuisine, India’s trade and industry coexists with everyone, learning to develop unique ideas from whatever is available, and further evolving as more materials are made available over time.
While the most criticized notion would be the unique smell of cow dung. India’s respect for life goes beyond and respects nature altogether. India is still one of the more environmental platforms when it comes to respect of the use of its environment. Its citizens better understand the impact of many things on the environment, and take responsibility accordingly. Even if there are sectors who do not give their full respect to protecting the environment, Indians are motivated to invest in this endeavor. Provincial areas still respect their plants as further understanding that sustaining them would be beneficial to the village, the same is practiced on water and animals. Cities are also returning to the idea, taking initiatives on living healthy, and understanding that to live healthy, the surrounding environment has to be healthy as well. Cow dung is also well considered for its medicinal and fertilizing properties. What might be negatively viewed by the world might not be negative at all. What has been vital, is the further understanding of the purpose of everything that exists.
India, through its distinctive scent, could lead everyone to further understanding of what the entire history stands with. It would be pointed as a fact that perhaps, through the scent of India, a blind can see more about India than those with eyes, who take its grand priceless value for granted, living only with the illusion of the current fascade. The overall sensory experience tells such a grand story of epic proportions, such a prized beauty is to be respected and revered in awe, as it is one of the main cradles of civilization, and a major contributor to its sustainability.
– Column by Haresh Daswani