Navara rice is one of the rarest indigenous rice varieties grown exclusively in Kerala with immense curative and medicinal properties. Navara or Njvara has been mentioned extensively in the ancient texts of Ayurveda like Sushruta Samhita, Ashtanga Hridaya, Kṣemakutūhala of Kṣemaśarman, Bhojanakutūhala of Raghunātha Sūrin and Pākadarpaṇa of King Naḷa and other treatises. Navara rice is used for specialized Ayurvedic treatments like Navarakizhi and Navara Theppu.
Njvara also known as Ṣaṣṭikāśāli is cultivated in the nine districts of Ernakulam, Thrissur, Palakkad, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Kannur, Kottayam and Alappuzha singularly using organic means as the use of chemicals will adversely affect its medicinal properties and health of patients. Interestingly, this rice takes only 60 days to grow and mature! Farmers strictly adhere to the tenets of the scriptures while cultivating this rice and therefore, keep this rice as paddy for at least a year before converting to rice. Only raw rice of Njvara is used for consumption and Ayurvedic treatments.
Of the two varieties of Navara namely the black colour glumed and the golden yellow colour glumed, the former is used for Ayurvedic treatments while the latter widely considered to have higher medicinal value is incorporated as a part of one’s daily diet. This rice is also served during auspicious occasions.
Navara rice is a part of a unique preparation called Hitham Karkidaka Kanji Koottu taken only in the monsoon season to improve digestion, blood circulation and immunity. Njvara rice is used in the treatment of paralysis, neuromuscular conditions, rheumatic pains, polio related disabilities and respiratory diseases to mention a few. Boiled Navara rice is recommended as a good weaning food for infants while rice gruel made in cow’s milk improves lactation and is ideal for anaemic patients. It is highly recommended for people suffering from diabetes, bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, tuberculosis, cancer, hyperlipidemia, fatty liver, hypercalciuria, kidney stones, heart diseases and oligospermia. Regular cleansing of the hair with the kanji of Navara rice prevents premature hair fall.
This food is easily digestible and has the optimum dose of Vitamin B, zinc, iron, potassium, calcium and magnesium, fiber, protein, complex carbohydrates, antioxidants, polyphenols, flavonoids and others. The rice bran oil is also used to cure aches and pains.
This revered rice was awarded the Geographical Indication Tag (GI) in 2007.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
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