Other than the tourist attractions as well as politically crucial battlefield amid ongoing Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh’s Ayodhya, a melting point of many religions, attracts pilgrims from across the country for its locally made sandalwood ‘Maharaja Chandan’ used for ’tilak’ in Hindu religion.
‘Maharaja Chandan’, a locally manufactured sandalwood prepared by using turmeric, sandalwood and some other secret ingredients, is not only auspicious in terms of its use by saints and religious people but also is a source of major income for several locals who reside in the periphery of around 2 km of ‘Ram Ki Paidi’, ‘Ram Janmabhoomi’ and ‘Hanumangarhi temple’.
Besides ‘Maharaja Chandan, ‘Mailkota Chandan’, ‘Shri Chandan, ‘Ramraj Chandan’, ‘Jankiraj Chandan’ and ‘Gopiraj Chandan’ are manufactured in Ayodhya.
One of the shopkeepers Geeta Sahu, who runs six to seven generations old shop told ANI, “There are different kinds of uses of chandan. Mailkota chandan is especially used by people belonging to ‘Vaishnav Sampraday’. Similarly, other people belonging to different ‘sampraday’ use different chandan.”
“In Ramraj chandan, the soil of Ram Janmabhoomi is mixed. Similarly, Janakiraj and Gopiraj chandan are manufactured by using soils of places respectively from where goddess Sita belonged to and from Vrindavan,” Shahu said.
She said that “Maharaja Chandan is specially manufactured in Ayodhya and it is in more in demand compared to other chandan. Roli chandan is also in demand here as it is used as Tilak by Vaishnav Sampraday people after putting Mailkota chandan on their forehead in almost ‘U’ shape”.
All these sandalwood pastes are sold in different ranges beginning from ₹200 per kg.
One can visit the markets in Ayodhya to understand from close quarters the true essence of life for sandalwood sellers doing business in decades-old shops situated in narrow winding lanes in the region based on the banks of the Saryu river.
Besides, sandalwood, the shops in the markets in Ayodhya keep a good stock of souvenirs that makes for interesting gift packages back home like photos of temples, devotional objects and idols of Ram and Sita.
Pilgrims always want to take back something from the holy places or even the places they have visited, and sandalwood as a memento or a gift for the loved ones back home is one of the key souvenirs in Ayodhya.
Even people from other religious places like Mathura and Haridwar are reportedly visited Ayodhya to buy locally made ‘Maharaja Chandan’.
A resident of Mathura, Kanha Sharma told ANI that he visited Ayodhya to buy “original ‘Shri’ which is known as ‘Roli Chandan’ here”.
“There are many Sampradaya in Hindu religion in which we first put chandan as Tilak before worshipping ‘Thakurji’ (Lord Krishna). Those who worship Lord Shiva put ‘Tripund’ (a way of putting tilak)…Shri Chandan is used in Hindu religion,” Sharma said.
Outside most temples, you would see piles of shops where various kinds of sandalwood pastes including ‘Maharaja Chandan’ are sold in different shades like white, yellow, red, and brown and the purpose of these colourful sandalwood pastes are also different.
“Chandan is in demand in Ayodhya for old times as it is used by saints and religious people here. Maharaja Chandan, Mailkota Chandan and Shri Chandan are specially manufactured here in Ayodhya,” Vishnu, another shop owner told ANI.
Ayodhya is the melting point of many religions like Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism. Interestingly enough a large part of the Muslim population resides here too. It is situated on the banks of River Saryu and references to it could be found in many ancient documents like Atharvaveda and some of the early Buddhist texts.
Some of the important tourist destinations here are the Hanuman Garhi, Kanak Bhawan, Swarg Dwar, Mani Parvat and Surgiv Parvat, Nageshwarnath Temple are a major source of income for chandan sellers here.
Known for the birthplace of Lord Rama and setting of the epic Ramayana, Ayodhya, which is adjacent to Faizabad city, Ayodhya is well accessible from all other cities of Uttar Pradesh and India and sandalwood is among many souvenirs which are the key attraction of the auspicious place. (ANI)
This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.