Saturday, July 26, 2014

Queen of the Night

It was a cool autumn night. The moon had painted a landscape of ethereal charm and the crickets were busy singing their merry song. The house of my maternal aunt, which stood on a small hillock in north Kerala, was bathed in moonlight and the mystique and charm of the ancient. Almost a century old, it was a two-storied house. The wooden stairs in the central corridor creaked, while they led me to the attic. My destination was the library in the attic, a delight to my bibliophilic heart. In addition, it overlooked the garden.  I had come to attend the marriage of my cousin, which was two days from then. I had chosen the library, which had a single bed to spend the night.

The light breeze was laden with the rich, sweet and intoxicating fragrance of the Parijata, the Queen of the night. It was a fragrance, which talked of longing, of love and heavenly tales. The Parijata tree that stood at the farthest corner of the garden was heavily laden with blooms.

 That morning, an old neighborhood woman had told me the tale of the Parijata tree while I was arranging the fallen yet beautiful snow-white flowers with the coral core, in a glass bowl. The story had touched the romantic in me.

Once a princess named Pārijāta fell in love with the sun. Sun being the wanderer did not return her love and soon deserted her.  Depressed, she committed suicide and a tree sprung from the ashes, the tree of Parijata. To avoid seeing the sun, the lover who had rejected her, the tree bloomed only at night and shed the blooms at sunrise.

Intrigued by the tale, I researched more about the flower on my phone internet. There were many links to extol the virtues of the Parijata.

 Hindus considered it of heavenly origin and protected it. According to mythology, the Parijata tree was one of the gifts that had surfaced during the churning of the ocean of milk by the Gods and Demons. Indra had planted it in his heavenly garden and lord Krishna at the request of his wives Satyabhama and Rukmini had brought the tree to earth. They quarreled over as to where the tree ought to be planted. But Krishna planted the tree in Satyabhama's courtyard in a way that when the tree flowered, the flowers fell in Rukmini's courtyard, thus ending the quarrel. Ha..Even gods were not free from the menace of wifely tantrums.

·   The Parijata flowers resembled miniature mandalas or the universe with pure white petals unfolding from a bright orange center. The ancient sages considered the flower as symbolic of fire or agni, the purifying flame of awareness. It burnt away the uncertainties of the mind to reveal the petals of purified consciousness.

    According to the Charak Samhita, the earliest known text on Ayurveda, sweet smells maintain youthfulness and vigor, and give a long life. They are rejuvenating, and increase sensual enjoyment. Therefore, people used these flowers in incenses and as flower offerings to gods and goddesses.
·        The flower is the official flower of the Indian state of West Bengal and Kanchanaburi Province, Thailand.
    It is also called as the Tree of Sorrow, the Queen of the Night, the Coral Jasmine, the Prajakta in Sanskrit and Pavizha Malli in Malayalam.

    The leaves, Bark, Stem, Flowers, Seeds and flower oils had various medicinal properties and were used extensively in Ayurveda and Homoeopathy.


    The Parijata Attar, if applied on wrist pulse points, heart chakra, ear lobes or twirl through the hair awaken bliss.

When I went to bed that day, my dreams were clouded with visuals of a sad princess who was shedding copious tears. Her tears when they touched the earth became the Parijata flowers.

Early next morning, I walked through a carpet of the fallen Parijata flowers with a heart overwhelmed with sadness. I empathized with her, her sadness, and her urge to shrink away from her lover, the sun.

The fragrance that lingered on my hands spoke of her unrequited love, the tears the tree shed on the caress from the first rays of the sun. A love, which was destined to be eternal, a fragrance destined to comfort during the dark hours of the night, to dance in the arms of the night breeze.

This post is written as part of a contest organised by Godrej aer and Indiblogger.


Can you inspire us with your evocative travel experience to help us create the first crowd-inspired fragrances for Godrej aer? 


  1. I love the Parijata flowers too! In fact there was guest blog post posted on my blog by an artist friend who had written and worked using these flowers as a muse.
    The tale of the princess is sad but interesting. These were Gandhiji's favorite flowers too.

    1. Oh.. nice information you have given Vinodini. I am a fan of its fragrance.

  2. A touching post with multiple stories... Beautiful Parijatha flowers... I can feel their fragrance right now! Best wishes for the contest, may you win!

    1. Thank you Sindhu for the wishes. I love their fragrance. Near our apartment there are many trees. I always collect a few while I pass by. :)

  3. Same pinch, the aromatic and romantic smell of Parijata fills the mind with divine essence. Looks like time has stopped infront of this smell.

    1. Yes Janak Kumar.. Time really freeze before its smell.

  4. Such a touching post, Preethi.
    Parijata flowers have lovely fragrance. I didn't know so many stories about them. Great to learn!
    Best wishes for the contest!

    1. Thank you Anita... It is often when such prompts come that we dig into memories and find many such forgotten pearls.