The overall objective of the project was to facilitate capacity building support for providing gainful employment to the people living in and around the forest of the remote and far flung regions of district Nainital. On the basis of the available resources and demand of the product, incense or Dhoop preparation was decided with the consent of the local people.
The Dhoop is the most convenient form of spreading perfume and fragrance in India. The burning of Dhoop in religious and social functions has been practiced in India since early times. From the ancient period to the present day devotional use of incense, has become custom which has been passed on from generation to generation. Its soothing fragrance creates a mood of serenity, tranquillity and concentration of mind. It is used in everyday life as air fresheners and to enliven the surroundings. Also it acts as a fragrant fumigant and is reputed to possess insecticidal and antiseptic properties.
Basically it is prepared from the extracts of the Dhoop trees, which are botanically termed as Vateria indica and Canarium strictum. Vateria indica is the source for Saka Dhoopa and Canarium strictum is the source for Rala Dhoop.
In North India it is prepared from the rhizome of Jurinea macrocephala which is also a scarce herb. So the problem was to find and use one of such sacred plant which is found widely in the region and can also be used for preparing the Dhoop of good smoke quality. Traditional and indigenous knowledge were explored to find out the appropriate planting material for using the base material for Dhoop preparation.
Hence seeing the scope of good quality Dhoop and to offer best to the society appropriate aromatic plants were identified which could be made available widely in good supply without deforesting the traditionally used Dhoop trees. As a result of which the Herbal Dhoop was prepared locally using the raw materials. But smoke quality matters a lot when incense is used long and regularly. Hence in order to test the smoke quality of locally prepared Dhoop, it was subjected to chemical and sensory analyses for evaluating its quality over traditional Dhoop procured from the local market.
On comparing the quality of smoke the results indicated lower carbon di oxide and particulate matter content in locally prepared Dhoop over traditional Dhoop procured from the market. Besides these, higher oxygen percentage led to continuous burning. Also the fragrance was observed better in locally prepared Dhoop over traditional Dhoop.
As product packing also plays an important role in delivering the right fragrance to consumers so the locally prepared Dhoop was well packed with air tight wrappers. Also institutional arrangements are required for sustained production and marketing of such products, hence self help group was constituted from the people of local rural community.
This initiative of capacity building through incense making, using indigenous knowledge by community participation was experimented in the Kundal village of Nainital district of Uttarakhand. However the success of project lies upon the fact when it remains socially acceptable and economically viable in long run. And if the project remains successful then such initiatives of capacity building can be replicated in other areas of the states like Uttarakhand.
Blogpost and picture submitted by Chandrashekhar Sanwal (Indian Forest Service, India) – chandra.sanwal(at)gmail.com
The content, structure and grammar is at the discretion of the author only.
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