Indian Sandalwood is very sacred in the Hindu Ayurveda and is known in Sanskrit as Chandana. The wood is used for worshipping the God Shiva, and it is believed that Goddess Lakshmi lives in the sandalwood tree. The wood of the tree is made into a paste using sandalwood powder and this paste is integral to rituals and ceremonies, to mark religious utensils, to decorate the icons of the deities, and to calm the mind during meditation and prayer. It is also distributed to devotees, who apply it to their foreheads or the necks and chests. Preparation of the paste is a duty fit only for the pure, so is entrusted in temples and during ceremonies only to priests.
The paste is prepared by grinding wood by hand upon granite slabs shaped for the purpose. With the slow addition of water, a thick paste results (called kalabham “കളഭം” in Malayalam language and “gandha” ಗಂಧ in Kannada), which is mixed with saffron or other such pigments to make chandanam. Chandanam, further mixed with herbs, perfumes, pigments, and some other compounds, results in javadhu. Kalabham, chandanam, and javadhu are dried and used as kalabham powder, chandanam powder, and javadhu powder, respectively. Chandanam powder is very popular in India and is also used in Nepal. In Tirupati after religious tonsure, sandalwood paste is applied to protect the skin. In Hinduism and Ayurveda, sandalwood is thought to bring one closer to the divine. Thus, it is one of the most used holy elements in Hindu and Vedic societies.