If you were to travel to modern day Pakistan or Northern India and visit what locals call an “attar” or perfumery, you would be amazed by the various oil blends and luscious scents you would find held in glass, air-tight jars. In the same area, some 4,000 years ago, the people of the Vedic Civilization were doing the same, only their jars were made from decorated clay, bronze, and copper.
Despite being referred to as ancient, the Vedic civilization lived by principles we accept in psychology today. We understand that as people, we require some basic necessities for life: food, shelter, and clothing, and that only after fulfilling them do we start to pursue other forms of maintenance. The Vedic people embodied that, seeking personal hygiene and self decorating with jewelry, bakhoor, and perfumes. In their literature historians deciphered countless mentions of “fragranced smoke” which lead them to believe that they were referring to some type of bakhoor or incense that was used to perfume their surroundings. There are also mentions of people using them spiritually during religious ceremonies and even medically. Some mentions even referred to bakhoor being used to treat emotional or psychological trouble- an early form of aromatherapy. Cosmetics was of social significance as well, as many men and women adorned themselves with plant-based perfumes and mostly women wore kohl that was fragranced and colored their eyelids. Among the plants mentioned in Vedic scripts was Guggulu, a herb derived from a Myrrh tree local to India.