Ceremonial massages are practiced in India. Massage before marriage is one of the few ceremonial massages in the Hindu tradition that is compulsory even today. This is because it lends a glow to the skin and relaxes the couple, making them look fresh and shiny. For the groom, the massage can also provide an increase in virility and psychic strength. Because the massage is done with natural herbs and oils, it makes the bride more fragrant and beautiful.
Another traditionally compulsory massage is the one given daily to the new mother during the forty days following birth. Traditionally this is the time for a woman's complete body purification, after which she can return to performing her daily worship or household chores.
The ancient science of Indian massage was described by Valmiki, the first poet of the Sanskrit language, in his epic poem the Ramayana. The Persian and Greek (Unani) systems of massage strongly influenced the basic forms of massage developed in the West. Many common elements can be found between Persian and Greek massage and Ayurvedic massage; Unani massage utilizes the three humors as well as similar herbs, spices, herbal formulas, and oils. Their ways of living happy and healthy lives, common among the three cultures, extended to a similarity in martial art styles and massage methods. Because of this cross-fertilization, the strokes of the Eastern and Western sys. tems seem strangely similar.
Massage is growing in popularity in the West in response to an increase in the stresses and strains in this world of greed and competition. With the in crease in pollution of air, water, and sound-our nerves are constantly being agitated. Our glands are constantly being overstimulated by the use of preser- vatives. With the increase in packaged and precooked foods, more chemicals are permeating our bodies on a cellular level. Fresh milk from the farmer's cow is like a dream, and processed milk is loaded with chemicals. Grains and vegetables grown without synthetic fertilizers are almost extinct. To maintain good health, we have no choice but to learn ways to help flush these toxins from our systems as regularly as they are ingested. Massage is one of the few remedies known for doing this. Regular massage, along with ingesting organically grown foods and pure water and performing exercises in natural sunlight in an unpolluted environment, can prove extremely beneficial.