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Umlotha wamandiya / Holy ash / Vibhuti

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What is it?

Umlotha wamandiya is holy ash. It is called umlotha wamandiya because it is a product of Indian origin. In India, umlotha wamandiya is known as vibhuti or bhasma. Vibhuti is holy ash used in Hindu rituals. It is made from the white ash of wood burnt in a sacred fire ritual known as homa or havan. Homa is an ancient sacred fire ritual where special offerings are burnt in the fire. The fire destroys all the offerings, and the resulting ash is considered sacred. Vibhuti can also be made from puja, a worship ritual where an offering is burnt to ash. Sometimes it is made from cow dung (known as gomaya), that is burnt producing ash. It can also be collected from cremations.

In Hinduism, holy ash is associated with lord Shiva, one of the holy trinity of supreme deities. Indians believe that there are three deities are in charge of all creation: Brahma, Shiva, and Vishnu. Brahma is the creator, Shiva is the destroyer, and Vishnu the preserver. Shiva represents darkness and is known as the god of destruction. It is said that in most cases lord Shiva destroys the presence of evil.

The use of holy ash is not unique to Hinduism. Catholics observe a holy day called Ash Wednesday. It is a day of prayer, abstinence, and fasting. On this day, Christians mark their foreheads with a cross using holy ash to commemorate human mortality, referencing the funeral phrase “ashes to ashes – dust to dust”.

How is it typically used in India

Lord Shiva is often depicted adorning three lines of holy ash on the forehead, known as tripundra. Tripundra personify the threefold power of lord Shiva: the will, knowledge, and action. Using the syllables of Om, a sacred sound and mantra in Hinduism, the tripundra is defined as follows:

  • The power of will is the A syllable of Om
  • The power knowledge is the U syllable of Om
  • The powder of action is the M syllable of Om

The tripundra is not just worn on the forehead, it is also worn on the arms, chest, and stomach. It is generally worn by lord Shiva disciples, gurus, and yogis.

How it is typically used in South Africa

In South Africa, holy ash is used in traditional medicine for the following:

  • It is used to make isiwasho that is used to cleanse and protect the home. It is added to a concoction that is sprinkled in and around the home to protect it and to ward off evil. For example, holy ash is added to a homemade concoction that includes coarse salt, shibhoshi, and methylated spirit.
  • Zionist faith healers also use holy ash to make isiwasho that is used during purification healing.
  • It is used to make an emetic to induce emesis
  • It is used to make a steam concoction
  • It is used to bath
  • It is sprinkled on food and drinks
  • It is added to an ointment or lotion that is applied on the body
  • It is used as isiphephetho

Buy umlotha wamandiya/ holy ash / vibhuti / bhasma:…bhuti-bhasma-80g/

You can learn more about the uses of holy ash and how it is used to make isiwasho, by accessing isiwasho. You can learn about coarse salt and shibhoshi by accessing coarse salt and shibhoshi. You can also learn about faith healers by accessing The rise of faith healers.

Safety precaution

The use of traditional medicine in prescribed dosages will yield good results. Misuse and abuse may lead to complications. To learn about correct dosage, consult a traditional healer or a herbalist. You can also visit or email: to learn more about traditional medicine.

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