Camphor also known as karpooram or kapoor, is a small white crystalline substance used commonly in India. Its burning is essential to any Hindu aarti ritual. Aarti is one of the most important aspects of prayers in Hinduism which symbolizes the removal of darkness by true spiritual enlightenment.
Aarti being performed with Camphor has a spiritual significance. Camphor burns itself out completely without leaving a trace. Camphor represents our Vasanas, unclear desires. So also if we were to take refuge in the Lord, obtain knowledge, these desires will get burnt out. Although the camphor burns itself out, it emits a nice perfume. On a human plane it means that we should sacrifice ourselves to serve society, in the process spread the perfume of love and happiness to all.
Camphor is a combustible, translucent white solid which has a piquant smell and sour taste, though some people quite like its nose tingling fragrance.
Camphor is made through an ancient Ayurvedic method by distilling the bark and wood of a coniferous tree called Camphor Laurel (Cinnamomum camphor) that is largely found in Asia, particularly in India, Sumatra, Indonesia and Borneo. It is recommended using the pure natural medicinal grade camphor and not the common camphor which is available in the market.
It is also said that the burning of camphor is symbolic of the destruction of human ego. When it is burned it slowly disappears without leaving any residue, the fumes of burning camphor purify the air and inhaling it can be beneficial.
The flame of the camphor also signifies the flame of consciousness of Lord Shiva where we can surrender all our egos to be burned under the influence of God, no longer to be seen within us. We close our eyes while performing the aarti as if to look within, to our very self or Atman. Self realization can be achieved by realizing ourselves with the flame of knowledge.
Camphor can also purify the homes of devotees and drive away evil spirits and negative energy, smelling camphor fumes can be beneficial for people suffering from asthma, typhoid and measles. It also has the ability to give temporary relief to those who are afflicted by epilepsy, hysteria and rheumatism.
There are several health benefits of camphor such as it can reduce pain and swelling as it acts as a counter irritant and is therefore used topically to relieve pain and swelling and it can help in getting rid of rashes and redness when used as topical itch relieving gels.
Vaporub containing camphor oil can be added for faster clearing of the nail fungus, it also helps in relieving the pain and inflammation, which is a symptom of eczema. Application of camphor oil on the hair makes it soft and boosts hair growth.
It is said that if used properly with medicinal understanding, it can decrease the harshness of nervous disorder as well as convulsions, epileptic episodes, nervousness, mental tension as well as chronic anxiety. It is believed to be toxic to insects and is sometimes used as a repellent and also to deter snakes and other reptiles due to its strong odor.