The Meaning of Nag Champa
Nag Champa is a traditional fragrance from India and Nepal
It is a scent widely known for its earthy and floral aroma.
It is made from champaca, a magnolia flower, sandalwood, and a tree resin called halmaddi. Aside from its fragrance, Nag Champa is popular as an incense because of its meditative and aromatherapy benefits.
Nag Champa Ingredients
Champaca, halmaddi, and sandalwood base are the most basic ingredients of Nag Champa incense. These ingredients are native to India and Nepal. This makes a strong impression that Nag Champa was discovered from these countries.
Champaca, a golden magnolia flower also known as champak, has a distinguished floral scent. Champaca is the main flower oil used, but, over time, fragrant oils such as rose oils, orange blossoms, and ylang-ylang begun being added to different Nag Champa blends.
Halmaddi is a tree resin that acts as a binder to the mixture. It is an excellent binder for making incense because it seals the fragrance of essential oils as it dries up. It carries the earthy aroma that boosts the fragrance of Nag Champa. If reinforced with honey, it prolongs the burning life of the incense.
However, halmaddi has become rare and expensive, so sometimes people opt to use alternative tree resins such as those from pine and cedar.
What Does Nag Champa Smell Like?
Nag Champa has a sweet and earthy aroma, which is described by many as calming and warm. Due to its balsamic odor, Nag Champa incense is burned during spiritual practices for its meditative benefits. For some, Nag Champa resembles the smell of jasmine, or the forest.
Its smell lasts long even after the stick has burnt out. Its fragrance helps people to relax and it is believed to transport one’s mind and soul to a peaceful dimension during meditation.
History of Nag Champa
Nag Champa is believed to originate in India or Nepal because it is where champaca, its main ingredient, is mostly grown. Back in the day, South Indian women used champa oil to scent their hair and body.
Monks from monasteries started using Nag Champa as incense. Hindu and Buddhist monks manufactured Nag Champa incense for their spiritual and meditative practices. Some monasteries kept secret formulas of Nag Champa. Some were mildly floral, while other recipes were made muskier. Although used for religious ceremonies, its distinct fragrance and therapeutic effects are the reasons why it gained popularity among the Westerners in the 1960’s.
In spite of the rise of machinery today, many Indian manufacturers still use the manual process of making Nag Champa incense. Mixing the essential oils, resins and herbs with charcoal and binder produces a dough-like mixture or gum known as masala. Makers manually coat a bamboo stick with the masala mixture and roll it to perfect vertical shape. According to them, hand-made Nag Champa incense is often better than machine-made ones.
Nag Champa incense is still popular on the market because of its appeasing benefits. It covers unpleasant odors, dispels stress mostly in yoga studios and aids relaxation of the mind. Out of many incense styles on the market, Nag Champa is still an iconic and highly considered incense.
This article was updated on 07/31/2020.