Combination of Hygiene and Spirituality: What is Hammam?
The concept of the hammam, which everyone has heard at least once in their lives, but some of them do not know the meaning of it, is pretty intriguing for many people. So what is hammam?
Hammam, which we can see as a cultural heritage, has established itself in many different societies. Hammams, which are seen as both a physical and spiritual ritual, include various cleaning and massage treatments. The concept of hammam has an essential place in Turkish history. “Hammam” word is used to express the bath complex which includes all process of washing like from head to toe.
In history, people used hammam for their daily personal cleaning routine. Nowadays, the hammam is preferred for special and ceremonial things or tourism intended. In the past, people also used these complexes to come together and socialize. In the current climate, hammams are generally available in hotels and spa.
What Is Hammam?
The word "hammam" has the root of the Arabic and Hebrew language, and it means “warming”. It is known that hammam is an integral part of the Middle East, North African cultures, and also many other civilizations throughout history.
Hammam is known to have many different forms such as Finnish baths, Russian baths, Moroccan baths, Roman baths, Japanese baths, and Turkish baths. They are all based on the purification process in a variety of ways. However, to find an obvious answer for what is hammam question, we need to examine the long story of hammam that has a deep-rooted history.
History of Hammam
Cleaning is undoubtedly crucial to all creatures since the prehistoric period. But the beginning of hammam culture dates back to the Roman Empire. For the Romans, hammams are not only a place to bath but also a complex structure consisting of compartments that allow them to meet many needs such as restaurants, barbers, and sports halls. More than 2000 years ago, this culture spread to other Muslim countries, along with the Arabs who have had a bath tradition remaining from the Romans. On the other hand, it is known that the Finnish hammam, also known as a sauna, emerged as one of the methods of combating cold climate in Finland.
Russian hammam is another type of steam bath, similar to a Finnish hammam. Besides, Japanese people also have a hammam culture. With the good use of the volcanic hot water sources about 2000 years ago, the Japanese have emerged hammam structures which are also known as the Far Eastern hammam. The tradition of the hammam, which has spread to so many geographies and is based on the Romans, is a bath ritual that is still ongoing and mystical for the Turks today.
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Types of Hammam According to Different Cultures
How do all these types of hammam differ from each other, even though they have similar points?
Hammam ritual in Russia is based on perspiration with water vapor. Sweating people plunge into the ice pool after hammam. The massage made with fragrant tree leaves is a highlight of the Russian hammam tradition. In Russia, hammam culture has been going on for centuries, and this purification method for the Russians is seen as an important part of life.
Hammam culture, which is still in daily life in Morocco, is maintained in structures covered with a traditional mortar called “tadelakt”. A special mud bath is applied to the skin before bathing in the Moroccan hammam. Then the softening skin is rubbed with a coarse bath-glove and washed.
In the far east, hammams called "onsen" can actually be referred to as a hot water massage. Japanese hammams, where volcanic hot water spring is used, are used for touristic purposes today. These thermal springs were used to be outdoors. But now they are usually a part of hotels in the far east.
The history of Turkish hammam or Turkish bath, in other words, dates back to the Romans. But unlike the Roman hammam, which used still water, the flowing water stands out in Turkish hammam culture. Besides, Turkish hammam has a unique bathing ritual such as rubbing with a coarse bath-glove and massage. Turkish bath culture is still continued in Turkey and the Balkan countries. It is even possible to be cleaned in traditional Turkish hammams in almost every town in Turkey.
Benefits of Hammam
After finding the answer to what is hammam, it is useful to answer to why hammam question. When you learn the benefits of the hammam, you will decide to go to a hammam immediately. Here are some of the endless benefits of hammam:
Hammam, which is a relaxing personal care method thanks to the heat and steam, makes you feel reborn. You can feel extremely energetic after hammam. Hammams are the best way to pamper yourself, especially after busy periods.
Clearing the Mind
You can get away from the stress of daily life in the hammam, which offers a calm, safe, and peaceful environment. In the hammam, you can spend time without thinking about life outside, and purify your mind and body.
The hot steam in hammam dilates the blood vessels. In this way, the blood circulation is regulated, and immune is boosted. Your internal organs breathe because of the heat that opens all the pores on the skin. Thus, your risk of being infected is significantly reduced.
Nourishing the Skin
Thanks to the hot water, the necessary minerals and vitamins are provided to the skin, which is refreshed by the removal of dead ones. Hammam provides the essential moisture to the body, and that’s why skin renewals.
Relaxing Muscle Pains
Hot steam is the best to heal your tired and painful muscles. Especially it has a positive effect on rheumatic pains. So we can say hammam promotes body health. It relieves muscular tensions, and also joint pains. In addition to these, sinus congestions caused by diseases such as colds, asthma, and allergy are reduced thanks to the hammam.
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