If you have travelled to or spent time in India you will know that the experience brings your senses alive in a way that can’t be imagined. The wild array of colours, sounds and smells, often described as an assault on the senses, is heady, intoxicating and for some, even overwhelming. The smells alone can simultaneously turn your stomach and transport you to the heavens, all in one breath in.
Louis Bromfield, in his novel Night in Bombay, describes the smells of India “as compounded odours of spice and wood smoke, of jasmine and marigold and dust and copra and cow-dung smoke”. Smell is the sense that connects strongest to the memory, so no wonder one hint of these scents and we can be filled with nostalgia, transported instantly back to the bustling streets of Delhi, the dhoop smoke filled temples of Varanasi or the rain soaked earth of a Monsoon in Goa.
Amongst this diverse palette of smells, the heady, rich, sweet floral scent of jasmine seduces us most of all…
In India, jasmine is the scent of Love and Kāmadeva, the Lord of Love and Desire, has jasmine as one of the five flowers in his arrow.
Jasmine is a symbol of affection, eternal Love and sensuality and, as in the West roses might be exchanged between Lovers, here in India it is Jasmine. During the rituals of an Indian wedding couples exchange garlands (gajra) of jasmine in the same way one would rings in the West and, the bride will also be adorned with a crown of the tiny fragrant white buds woven into her hair.
Known as malli poo, malliga, mogra, Arabian jasmine and kundumalligai, this heady sweet scented flower is also referred to as the ‘Moonshine in the Garden’. The Night-Blooming Jasmine is known particularly for releasing its powerful fragrance after dusk fall, the fragrance of the tiny white half open buds capturing the senses of passers-by with their intoxicating, nostalgic scent.
Jasmine is not only a symbol of romance in love stories but it is also a symbol of Divine Love and of devotion. Mahadevi Akka, an early feminist twelfth century poet, a great mystic and saint, described Lord Shiva as ‘my Lord, white as jasmine’ and ancient Sanskrit literature often references the romantic and evocative nature of flowers, how they charm and seduce us with their beauty, their scent and their unique medicine.
When you visit the temples of South India the nearby streets are lined with flower sellers laden with baskets of gajra (garlands) made of tiny buds of jasmine held delicately on a cotton thread. These garlands can be woven into the hair or offered with prayers to the temple shrines. Hanuman, the beloved monkey god, is traditionally offered five jasmine flowers and both Goddess Parvati and Goddess Saraswati love this subtle yet mesmerising white flower.
In South India, the intoxicating scent of this delicate flower often catches you unexpectedly as you pass down a street and its sweet scent, intermingled with trails of sandalwood incense, transports you for a moment, beyond time and space, deep into the heart.
We are grateful for the beauty of this flower and how it endlessly inspires our hearts with Love. We celebrated a summer of love with garlands of jasmine on the beach here in Goa shooting our Flower Girl collection and our gorgeous Tiger Silk Scarf is also illustrated with these delicate and magical flowers. Drape this sumptuous silk around your body in celebration of the soft but powerful nature of the Divine Feminine which lives inside each of us.