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Today I came up with the idea of writing about “Dandasa”. Dandasa belong to the Pashtun homelandand is a speciality of the Pashtun homeland.
Dandasa is actually a dried walnut tree peel, which is bitter in taste and is commonly used for cleaning teeth and reddening lips. Dandasa has been used by Eastern women as a "lipstick" since ancient times. Where in the world is Dandasa used, and where are the walnut trees? It is not known, but in the Indian subcontinent, Dandasa is obtained from the walnut forests of the tribal areas of Bajaur, Tirah, Waziristan, Para Chinar, and the northern areas in Pakistan, and is supplied throughout the subcontinent.
Dandasa is often mentioned by Pashtun writers and poets in Pashto Literature.
سترگے دے توری پہ رنجو کہ
شونڈو تہ رنگ دا دنداسے ورکہ میئنه
A famous song has also been sung in Urdu about Dandasa, the lyrics of which are as follows:
’’پشاور سے میرے لیے دنداسہ لانا،اُو دلبر جان
Dandasa has been used continuously since ancient times. Women in cities and villages have been using Dandasa as a toothpaste and for make-up. Although its use has declined in recent years, The day before yesterday, an elderly man selling Dandasa by the roadside was asked about the use of Dandasa in Bannu Chowk Bazaar, to which he replied that the number of Dandasa buyers has been declining over time.
The same question was asked from a dentist in Peshawar Saddar to which he had the same answer. Changes are happening over time. Just as the practice of singing Pashtun "Atand" and "Tappey" on the occasion of marriage among modern women has vanished, smilarly, the use of Dandasa for "make-up" has also disappeared or diminished. Because Dandasa is obtained from the bark of rare trees such as walnuts, which kills the plant. That is why the government has banned it. But still it is always available in the market at a low price. However the number of its buyers have significantly decreased.
It is generally believed that Dandasa is used only for cleaning teeth or coloring lips, but there are other uses as well. Let's see what other uses it has:
As a Lipstick: Dandasa has the characteristic that when it gets wet, its color turns red, and it turns everything which it touches red. Therefore, when women use it to clean their teeth, their lips become permanently red. This color is not only longer lasting than synthetic lipstick, but also has zero side effects.
To beautify the hands and feet: Normally, women use henna for their hands and feet, but Pashtun women formerly used to apply Dandasa instead of henna. For this, the Dandasa is soaked in water at night, and then the mixtureis applied on the hands and feet in the morning. its color makes the hands and feet red as henna does, which is considered a sign of beauty for a bride.
As a nail polish: Dandasa is also used by women as a nail polish. For this, the Danddasa is kept soaked overnight and then applied on nails. When its red color comes on the nails, it looks like a nail polish. The interesting thing about Dandasa is that when applied on nails it does not affect the ablution. However, Nail Polish affects the ablution when applied because it forms a layer over the nails and therefore water cannot penetrate the layer which prevents the nail from being washed or cleaned.
For dyeing clothes: Women also use Soaked Dandasa to dye their dupattas. When a dupatta is dyed with the reddish orange color of soaked Dandasa, it looks very attractive and women can easily do that at home.
To clean teeth: Like toothpaste, women also use it to clean their teeth. This does not only remove the stains from the teeth but also strengthens the gums.
In the flow of fashion and appearance, ancient traditions and values are rapidly sreplaced like wildfire and no one even cares for it. Ancient traditions which were based on sincerity and simplicity are disappearing in today's age of mechanization and it will indeed be a loss to the modern man. With the advent of technology and facilities, there comes complications. Fifty years ago, humans did not have such facilities and luxuries, but they were healthy and calm. Just as "Gudar" came to an end in our culture, and the Pashtun poets are mourning the "death" of "Gudar", perhaps a few years later we will also mourn the memory of Dandasa.