The Sentinels of Beauty Traditions

Amina Siddiqui | August 7, 2023 | Heritage

South India’s cultural heritage is a treasure trove of history, art, and traditions that have been passed down through generations. Known for its vibrant temples, ancient scriptures, and mythical tales, the region showcases a unique blend of folklore and spirituality.

Among these treasures is the art of skincare, carefully preserved and now celebrated by Old School Rituals —a Hyderabad-born brand that meticulously combines the wisdom of South Indian traditions with elegant formulations. Founded by musician, entrepreneur, and social activist Smita Vallurupalli, Old School Rituals’ offerings resonate with those who appreciate the profound connection between culture and beauty.

Smita Vallurupalli at the Old School Rituals factory in Hyderabad

The Apsaras of Yore

Dravidian wisdom is adorned with an array of motifs that reflect the region’s spirituality and inclination towards beauty. One such fascinating aspect is the use of Apsaras, celestial beings known for their extraordinary beauty and captivating charm. Ancient texts and sculptures from the region often depict Apsaras as ethereal dancers and musicians, serving the gods in the heavenly realms. Legends narrate that they possess ethereal beauty, captivating not only celestial beings but also the hearts of mortals. Apsaras are also a recurring motif in classical dance forms such as Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, and Mohiniyattam, where dancers embody their allure through graceful movements and expressions.

Old School Rituals draws inspiration from these divine beauties and ingeniously incorporates their essence into their skincare formulations and further into their packaging, design, and overall brand identity. The exquisite artwork on their packaging showcases mesmerising depictions of Apsaras in various dance poses, akin to the enchanting frescoes found on the walls of ancient temples in South India.

The Significance of Storytelling Traditions

Another significant element that distinguishes South India’s cultural fabric is its rich storytelling traditions. Passed down through generations, these tales have acted as a medium to educate, entertain, and inspire. Often steeped in mythology and folklore, they carry valuable life lessons, cultural insights, and profound wisdom. Old School Rituals incorporates the essence of these tales into their products, not merely as marketing gimmicks but as a tribute to the storytelling legacy of the region. Each product carries with it a story of cultural significance, connecting the user to the age-old wisdom of the region. Maya is the apsara of all things mystical, including her hair elixir with 63 secret herbs; Radha’s bold and exquisite ingredients will surprise you with their efficacy; artistic Mandara’s glamorous spirit makes for beauty secrets that truly stand out; and the eternally playful Leela’s ingredients keep the skin clean and blemish free.

Heirloom Beauty Secrets

At the heart of the brand lies the profound knowledge of ancient herbal remedies and beauty secrets from the Andhraite kitchen, abounding in herbs, spices, and botanicals, each carrying its own unique therapeutic benefits. The brand carefully sources and blends these ingredients to create potent formulations that address modern skincare concerns while staying true to the timeless practices of the region. Their products encourage one to indulge in self-care that transcends the ordinary, offering a sense of serenity and connectedness to the past.

Old School Rituals range of products. 

Reviving Age-Old Beauty Routines

The brand’s commitment to using knowledge from South India in their formulations ensures that traditional practices are respectfully honoured. It extends beyond the ingredients and revives age-old beauty routines and rituals like aura cleansing salts and kansa vessels for healing and positivity.

Upon preliminary glance, what comes across as another celebrity-owned skincare brand truly withstands thorough scrutiny. Old School Rituals creates products that are not only effective but also gentle on the skin—a holistic approach to health and beauty. By evoking traditional imagery and storytelling, the brand offers more than just skincare products; it offers a soulful experience, inviting its customers to embrace the beauty, history, and grace that define South Indian culture. Each product narrates a unique tale inspired by mythical legends, making the skincare experience an immersive journey into the region’s past. And as we take this journey through time, we realise that true beauty transcends generations, connecting us to the timeless elegance of the celestial Apsaras.


Words by Amina Siddiqui.

Images Courtesy of Old School Rituals.

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