Monday, August 17, 2009

Think Tradition - Jasmine flowers

This afternoon, I saw a beautiful bunch of closely-threaded, jasmine flower string adorning my friend's jet black, curly hair. You cannot see the thread that twines the flowers. This kind of stringing flowers is an art that is prevalent and popular only in the town of Madurai, Tamil Nadu.
The fragrance of these flowers cannot be explained - with these flowers on, you can literally make your presence felt; the world knows you are in. That's how I turned to look at my friend and learnt that these flowers were also brought from Madurai. Another friend asked if people wore flowers everyday in Madurai and 'Yes' came the answer promptly from a Madurai girl. The words took me back to my childhood when I learnt to make such floral strings too.

It is quite an art to tie up flowers uniformly on thread string. It takes time, energy, and tactic to tie the flowers uniformly on the string. For town-bred tamilians, it was a very important lesson in home-making. Every Tamilian girl has to learn to make a floral string.

I have heard from my folks that in some places, these floral strings were an integral part of the every day life of a woman. Every back yard had Jasmine shrubs; the women pluck the flowers from these shrubs every day; tie them uniformly into floral strings; decorate their home's Pooja ( A home worship set-up where the family gathers to pray every day) with the same; add a little more beauty to their already beautifully plaited long hair with these floral string clipped fashionably; and distribute these flowers to every lady who visits their house in the evenings.

All these practices are still prevalent in some parts of Tamil Nadu, while in most places, people buy floral strings - may be over time people left the art to the professionals. Makes me wonder, how much of real essence of tradition that we are missing in cities today. It is a rare phenomenon to see flowers adorning a long, beautifully plaited, thick, jet-black hair. I agree that short hair is more about the convenience and personal choice, I fail to get the idea that some people have in mind: Short hair styles and flowers do not go together!!!

When you mention things like this in cities, people ask, 'Why take the pains??' or 'What is the need?' or 'Where is the style?' or 'Who's got the time?'...

Modernity is not wrong.... but once in a while, it is nice to embrace and enjoy the traditional air around you. Think tradition once in a while to enjoy life in a different angle.

Thanks to my colleague who gave me a chance to think tradition this afternoon, although be it for a short while.


nishitak said...

I remember my gran attempting to teach me how to do these when I was a kid, along with other arts such as doing kolam :)

Can't believe how much the times have changed. Nowadays, in Chennai hardly anyone wears flowers in their hair.

Probably in the smaller towns, they still do!

SG said...

I am not a flower person, as in I admire them on plants but I have never had much enthu in giving or getting bouquets and I have never been able to figure why women get flattered if men got them flowers. My amma used to be so pleased if appa bought home jadhi malli for her; it was her favorite flower. Its the same with women in Europe, only its lilies and tulips instead of malli and jadhi malli.

When Ashok bought me a single red rose for my b'day, I was overjoyed and was totally surprised at how happy it made me !! Its been almost a year and I still have the dried rose. I am still trying to figure out if its the thought or the fact that it was his first time buying flowers or if its because Ashok, a normally macho guy, condescended to be seen carrying a red rose all along the way from the shop to the house for my sake and I still dont know.....

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