I have a nostalgic relationship with the shiuli phool. When I was little, in India I remember this flower was the messenger of autumn. When the scorching summer days bid farewell, when the days started shortening, we could smell shiuli phool in the air. We knew autumn was coming. Ma Durga was coming. Our most favorite festival Durga puja was not far away.
But today I am to talk about the shiuli phool- the white tiny pinwheel flower with a carnelian tube like stem. And when I crushed the flower my fingers turned beautiful orange filled with a heavenly smell.
This flower is only available in the far east, in Bangladesh and India and part of Thailand. It is honored as the official flower of the state of West Bengal in India, where I came from. But then it also has another name, the Night Jasmine ( though scientists would refer it as Nycanthes Arbor- Tritis.)
Why such a name? It has a story. Parijat, the flower fell in love with the Sun. But Sun did not care. Parijat felt ashamed, hurt. She wilted and committed suicide. She was burned and from the ashes rose a tree- the shiuli flower tree. That is why it is also known as the Tree of Sorrow. It does not beam in the day time but when night falls, it blooms and falls on Mother Earth.
Hindus and Buddhists offer this flower to their Gods and Goddesses. Children make garlands picking them up from the ground. No other flowers that have fallen on the ground are allowed to be offered to the Supreme, except Shiuli.
My story is- I love this flower. It is linked with my childhood. I remember rolling on the dropped blossoms mixed with dew in early cool autumn days when I was a little girl of seven or eight. I was scolded by elders but I could not help, I could not forget that soft feeling on my skin and that fragrance.
I can show you pictures but how can I share that smell?
Today was a special day. After a muggy afternoon, I heard strange sound on my wooden deck in Walnut Creek, California. Thunders clapped like it did in India during such muggy hot days, and big drops of rain started falling on the ground. The branches of tall trees swayed, the clouds gathered and a nostalgic smell of rain mixed with dry earth filled the air. I hurried to pick up the cushions and pillows from the garden.
Something more strange happened. A pot of shiuli phool came to my door. A dear friend found out an online store that sells this exotic plant and she got one for me.
I am so so happy. It felt as if a dear someone from my past, my childhood days came to visit me here in America and she promised to be with me in my home.