"Sohpairah '' or soap nut is a wild tree found in some parts of Meghalaya. It is locally known as "Sohpairah" in Khasi and "Sohpinrah'' in Pnar. The fruits (nuts) have been extensively used as soap by the people of Meghalaya for more than centuries. It is believed that during the olden days, the Khasis and Pnars used Sohpairah as a washing agent to wash clothes, utensils, jewellery and also for bathing. In Jaintia hills particularly, Sohpairah was traditionally used for cleansing dead bodies.
Sohpairah is an amazing natural detergent due to a natural cleaning essence that is contained in their shell. When soap was not widely available, the Khasis used Sohpairah to wash their clothes and the water soaked in Sohpairah was also used to wash hair. It is the most effective way of washing clothes as compared to chemical detergents. They are soaked in water and this soapy water is then used to wash clothes. This water can also be used to wash hair. So Sohpairah is a great substitute for shampoo!
The soap nuts are the fruits of a small tree called Sapindus Mukorossi. Once picked and dried in the sun, the shells contain a natural cleaning agent called saponin that produces an effect comparable to soap. The Sapindus tree grows in hard environmental conditions and protects its native areas from erosion. It is incredibly resilient to diseases and does not need any fertilizer or chemical pesticides.
"U Sohpairah" is a natural organic way of washing that Khasis used in the past. How many of us still use this now? 🧽🧼