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Sesame (til, gingili)
goma 胡麻 sesame

***** Location: India, other areas
***** Season: Late Autumn
***** Category: Plant


Sesame (Sesamum indicum L.) is an ancient cultigen. Today, it is mostly grown in India and the Far East (China, Korea), but its origin is probably tropic Africa (although some other sources seem to favour an Indian origin).

Sesame is among the most important oil seeds of mankind, and one of its oldest. There are very different kinds of sesame oil available, and some knowledge about their culinary properties is required to make a competent choice.

Oriental sesame oil owes its characteristic flavour to a huge number of compounds which form only during the toasting procedure. Toasted sesame seeds are a common spice in Eastern Asia; it is often sprinkled over Japanese and Korean dishes.

Read more and look at more photos of Gernot Katzer:
Sesame, (Sesamum indicum L.) : Spice Pages

Various names for the Sesame in India, this is the beginning of a list:

Gujarati : Mittho-tel, Tal
Hindi : Til, Gingli
Marathi : Til, Ashadital, Bariktil
Nepali : Til
Punjabi : Til
Sanskrit : Tila
Tamil : Ellu, Yellu, Jinjili


Til oil - which is called - Nalla ennai, meaning 'good oil' has been in use by Tamizhs for centuries.
When we were children my mother use to rub Til oil on our hair every Saturday. A ritual that she meticulously followed for years. She would rub and coax the oil in gently into the scalp and the movement used to be so soothing. . . an experience in itself.

pickle making:
the smell of sesame seeds
as it bursts in oil

kala ramesh

Worldwide use


sesame, goma ゴマ、ごま、胡麻
fresh sesame seeds, shin goma 新胡麻
cutting sesame plants, goma karu 胡麻刈る

............. MORE
Goma ... Sesame KIGO in mid-Autumn

This plant has been know to Japan since olden times. Its oil and seeds are ingredients of the Japanese quisine. The seeds are harvested in September.
The seeds come in four colors, white, black, golden and green.

Sesame Tofu (gomadoofu 胡麻豆腐)、a kind of pudding, is one of the best treats of the Zen kitchen.


Gabi Greve




One of the famous Mahasiddhas, Tilopa, is closely related to the Sesame plant.
Some wall paintings in Tibet show him pounding sesame seeds in a mortar. As the oil is within the seed, but not visible, so is enlightenment innate to a human being.

Tilopa pounding Sesame

© Photo from an article by Rob Linrothe
Orientations Volume 37 - April 2006


Tilopa (988-1069)
was born a brahmin in India, but he renounced the world while still quite young to become an ascetic. After a short period, he had a vision of a dakini who gave him an explicit tantric initiation that connected him directly with the Void. She enjoined him to throw away his monk's robes, to act spontaneously and to practice in secret.

He became a wandering yogi and received instructions from several siddhas. In Bengal he spent twelve years earning his living by producing oil from sesame seed during the day, and working in the service of a prostitute by night, thus abjuring completely his brahmin status. (Tilopa was named for the til or sesame seed.)

Later on, meditating in a seclusion in a tiny grass hut, he came face-to-face with the form of Buddha Vajradhara. The Kagyu denomination holds the Mahamudra teachings that were received directly from Vajradhara via Tilopa.

Following that realization, this unpredictable and powerful master wandered about the country teaching and performing miracles.
He is considered a master in the attitude and techniques of four distinct transmissions.

Things found on the way

Sesame cookies with haiku inside!


Two Haiga from Japan

goma o iru hodo no warai ya zen gakuren

such a laugh
when roasting sesame seeds -
All Japan Students Association
(Tr. Gabi Greve)


Zengakuren (全学連)
All-Japan Federation of Students' Self-Governing Associations


kuromitsu to goma ga korabo da nada manpuu

black honey and
sesame in collaboration -
what a desert pudding !
(Tr. Gabi Greve)

ちるりん さん


Stray sesame seed
Lodged in the stapler
Breakfast at his desk again

George M. Wallace: A fool in the Forest


not too far away
sesame paste on my bread

Gabi Greve, March 2006


Eat you up then
enlightenment through gingili gingili
it's so easy so easy!

Aju Mukhopadhyay, India


On Saturdays, before rubbing the oil on the head, two things are traditionally done:

1. The oil is to slightly heated before such a bath is taken/given.
2. Mother or some other elder of the house dips her/his finger into the oil bowl and make seven (five for girls) dots of oil on the right thigh (left for female).

Seven signify the seven mythological Aswathaamaa, Bali, Vyaasaa, Hanumaan, Vibishanaa, Kripa and Parasurama – all these are believed to have no death - "chiranjeevi" ie living for ever.

Five signify the five mythological "kanyaa" ( exact equivalent –
virgin ) but generally here refers to exceptionally virtuous women held in high esteem - Akalya, Draupadi, Sita, Tara and Mandotari.

The idea of keeping the dots – the person being given the oil bath is to be like them or to be blessed by them.

he has sesame oil bath
with the seven

all over body
nalla ennai cools her
five smiling

she remembers mom
taking oilbath

sesame oil lingers on hair
saturday morning

kid shows off in new clothes
after oil bath



sesame flowers -
a yellow sun slips
from a monk's fist

- Shared by Harvinder Dhaliwal -
Joys of Japan, 2012

Related words

***** Sesame Kigo for Summer

sowing sesame, goma maki 胡麻蒔き
sesame flowers, goma no hana 胡麻の花


- #goma #sesame -


Gabi Greve said...

Indian Spice Saijiki under construction



Gabi Greve said...

Legends about goma sesame
Tokyo 多摩村 Tama village

In September when the sesame seeds are ready, people make two bundles as offerings for 荒神様 Aragami Sama.
He is the protector from fire. If a child falls into a fire by accidents, it will be able to jump out quickly, like the seed of sesame thrown in fire.
14 legends to collect

Gabi Greve said...

Legend from Niigata 魚沼市 Uonuma city
katame no kamisama 片目の神様 Kami with one eye
魚沼市 Uonuma city
諏訪様 The deity of the Suwa Shrine once had a bout of Sumo wrestling in a field of goma ゴマ sesame. The shells of the sesame pierced its eyes and it became a deity with one eye.

Gabi Greve said...

katame no Kami 片目の神 Kami with one eye - legends
These Kami lost one of their two eyes
Some were planting sesame.

Gabi Greve said...

Legend from Fukushima 南会津郡 Minami-Aizu district 檜枝岐村 Hinoemata village
鎮守様 the Chinju Sama guardian deity once slipped in a field of satoimo 里芋 taro potatoes
and lost her left eye in a field of sesame.
Since then the villages do not plant taro or sesame.
Many villagers have a small left eye.