A healthy person can bathe everyday. Strict tradition stipulates bathing preceded by oil massage on head and body. Sesame oil or coconut oil are ideal for this. In Kerala the preference is for coconut oil. Some people use both – coconut oil for the head and sesame oil for the body. An oil massage bath at least once a week is considered a must.
The oil should be applied well all over the body before the bath and it should be fully rinsed off during the bath. Oil massage baths are beneficial for the skin, hair and eyes. There are some medicated oils for head massage which can be made at home. The ingredients for such massage oils are given later in this text. However there are some general rules to be followed in their preparation.
The right quantity of herbs and other ingredients going into the oil must be washed clean and crushed. If the quantity is not specified, a general proportion of 10 grams of herbs for 100 ml of oil can be adopted. Sesame oil or coconut oil is taken in a clean vessel and heated over a low fire. Once the oil gets hot, the herbs are added and the heating continued. Soon the oil starts boiling and frothing over. Care should be taken to see that the oil neither spills out nor catches fire. This can be accomplished by reducing the fire. After some time the frothing subsides – a sign that the water content in the herbs has evaporated. The crushed herbs in the oil become crisp. Douse the fire before these additives get burned. After the oil has cooled it can be strained, bottled and stored.
The oils applied to the head can be rinsed off using a variety of Thaalis or traditional herbal shampoos. Besides scouring off the oil and grime on the head Thaalis help maintain the health of both the hair and the pate skin. Thaalis can be applied and left on for anywhere between five and fifteen minutes before rinsing off.
The water for the bath can also be medicated with herbal additives. Medicated bath water will enhance the beauty of the skin and eyes. Bath water is first boiled with herbs and cooled before use. It can be used while lukewarm. However, unless otherwise specified by a physician, using warm or hot water to bathe the head is harmful for both the hair and eyes. The quantities of herbal additives for bathwater have not been specified.