A new book reveals that most of the ‘golden glow’ is actually a very green, chemical substance called iridescent pigmentation.
In the last decade, more than half of the world’s saffron has been traded to Asia – most of that is destined for its traditional use in Hindu ritual.
But in 2009, this precious stone was deemed the ‘official religion’ of Myanmar, which bans the use of saffron. The ban is enforced by a draconian law passed in March 2011 declaring saffron a banned religion.
The news has raised international concerns about the safety of saffron’s use as a ‘religious icon’.
Saffron is believed by Hindus to represent the sun in ancient India. But it was outlawed in Myanmar in 2010 after the government’s campaign to control the religion, which is spread mainly by migrants from neighboring Bangladesh.
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Saffron has become an official religion in Myanmar following the ban on the import of its sacred stone
Saffron, which is also known as the golden yellow, appears golden yellow under ultraviolet light. So is ‘sun-rich’ saffron.
The colour comes from the presence of iridescent pigments called irides. These are said to give the saffron its yellow colour.
Saffron is the fifth most valuable gemstone in the world with a market value of $1.2 billion (£760 million).
India is the world’s biggest importer of the purple-hued colour – some 1,000 tonnes a year.
Saffron’s official religion is banned in Myanmar
Saffron is made in China. For now, the ban in Myanmar means it’s being sold illegally in the UK for more than £100 per gram.
A British government spokesman said: ‘The ban has been imposed for the protection of both religion and trade. Both are important aspects for ensuring that people are not harmed whilst trading, and that businesses are not disrupted when people are exporting.’
The company importing the saffron said: ‘We are absolutely delighted that the ban has come about. We’re hoping that saffron’s popularity continues to grow.
‘Saffron is a precious gemstone and is an important part of India’s culture and heritage, with people trying to preserve the heritage through its usage.
‘We encourage everyone – regardless of belief – to respect our culture and preserve our heritage.’
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