The most rejoicing part of Deepavali is oil bath. For many, oil bath on the day of Deepavali may be a mere tradition. But this tradition has its roots in Ayurveda, one of the oldest and time-tested heath care system.

“Deepavali celebrations herald the onset of winter, considered to be a critical period among three seasons, and the human body demands special care. Skin and hair-related disorders are noticed during the dry season of winter. Oil bath on the day of Deepavali is an ideal method to prepare the human body to face winter,” Jayakrishna Nayak, physician at Sri Dharmasthala Manjunathesghwara Ayurvedic College in Udupi, told The Hindu .

Dr. Nayak, who has conducted studies on the health aspects of various Indian traditions and food, said that festivals such as Deepavali would help if they were celebrated in traditional ways. Oil bath, referred to as “Abhyanga” in Ayurvedic texts, had many health benefits.

He said oil bath and massage would help skin remain smooth and supple. It was useful to counter disorders such as dry skin, cracks, dandruff, falling of hair and improve appetite during winter. Oil bath would improve complexion, clean channels of blood circulation, and help overcome drowsiness, stiff joints and numbness, distress, pain and swelling. A mild oil massage to children and babies would strengthen their immune system and ensure healthy growth, Dr. Nayak said.

It was better to have oil bath every week during winter, he added. He said the traditional food prepared for Deepavali too had health benefits. “Hemanth Ritu” would start on the day of Deepavali. The body was prone to ailments related to “vatha dosha” during winter, and it demanded food with natural fat to overcome them.