Ramacham vishari (literally fan made of Vettiver) and sleeping mats made of Ramacham andthailam or perfume extracted from its roots are a range of products used in Kerala since ancient times during the hot summer. Even though their purposes are ‘better’ served today by the modern electrical amenities, they still are luxurious ethnic items seen in Kerala homes.
Botanically Ramacham is Vettiveria zezanoides. The grass and its roots are used widely for medicinal purposes.
Usually water is sprinkled on the Ramacha vishari so that it gives cool perfumed breeze.Ramacham mats used as blinds would also be sprinkled with water to keep the rooms cool and soothing during the hot summer days.
The poor man’s air conditioner, an indigenous device, is made using water, Ramacham roots, and an electric motor. The breeze from this contraption is not only fresh and cool, but also healthy. Bits of the roots of this plant are put in the earthen water pots to make the drinking water sweet. Drinking such water is believed to bring down the high body temperature quickly. It is also a common practice to spread dried Ramacham on the roofs and sprinkle them with water on summer evenings to cool the rooms below.