Spices in Traditional Rituals
It was written that Emperor Nero burnt a year's supply of cinnamon as a pyre for his dead Empress. Victorious soldiers marching into Rome were showered by expensive saffron. These extravagant usage of spices showed how powerful the spice trade was for the Roman empire.
In Malaysia, special events which are steeped in tradition always include herbs and spices.
For example, during the shaving ceremony of a newborn baby, there is a bowl of spiced scented water alongside kaffir lime, "sintok", a pinch of glutinuous rice paste and also turmeric.
These paraphernalia are useful in case of bleeding on the infant's delicate head.
To exorcise evil spirits, various spices are mixed with rice grains colored yellow with turmeric to be placed at strategic corners around the affected home. The shaman would sprinkle this magical potion while saying his mantra.
For weddings, usage of spices in every step of the ceremony is a must. Potpourri (called "bunga rampai") is made with pandanus, roses, bouganvillae blooms scented with rose water and a handful of cloves and cardamoms.
Glutinous rice is dyed yellow with turmeric to symbolize good luck. The happy couple on the raised dias are sprinkled with rose water and spices for even more prosperity and good luck.
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