Vibrant, fragrant and fresh, flowers are synonymous with our culture in innumerable ways. From dusk to dawn, flowers are interwoven into the daily routine of people all over India. Right from decorating the house to offerings while worshipping deities to medicinal uses, these bright and beautiful blooms represent the very spirit of our community and has great symbolic connotations. It is a practice as old as time amongst households to buy fresh and seasonal flowers daily which includes native varieties like Champa (Frangipani), Gulab (Rose), Mallipoo (Jasmine) and Chamanthi (Marigold). In this week's blog, we are going to explore more behind what makes flowers or 'pushpam' indispensable to us along with how it made its way to being the most common yet celebrated motif on #TheGreatIndianFabric.
The string of significance
Mythological scriptures and historical texts of India are replete with an awe-inspiring variety of flora and fauna. Since ancient times, they hold a special place in the heart of humankind for the peaceful, positive and pleasant feeling that they invoke. A symbol of great strength, purity and generosity, let us look at some interesting moments in Hindu mythology where flowers played a prominent role. Legend has it that Lord Ram wanted to seek Goddess Durga's blessing before commencing his battle with Ravana and wanted to offer her 100 Neel Kamal flowers (blue water lily). But ultimately he could find only 99 and decide to offer one of his eyes which resembled the flower. The Goddess was very pleased and blessed him. This lead to the Neel Kamal flower being regarded as a symbol of auspiciousness and purity. Another interesting aspect is that of the Champa flower that is sacred to Lord Vishnu and the fragrant flower also adorns Goddess Lalitambika's hair in the famed <em>Lalitaa Sahasram. It is regarded as highly auspicious and austere. One cannot forget about the Kamal (lotus), our national flower which holds a vital place in our customs and rituals since time immemorial. From being the abode to Lord Brahma to Goddess Lakshmi and Goddess Saraswati embodying a pink and white lotus respectively, this sacred flower stands for divinity and immortality.
While we look at the daily rituals in an Indian household, flowers extend their functionality to more than just being a part of prayer ceremonies. It is used as an ingredient in South Indian dishes (predominantly banana flowers and mint flowers) and is greatly appreciated for their flavour and texture. The ancient practice of Ayurveda also speaks a lot about the medicinal properties of flowers such as sunflowers, lotus and marigold and how they can be used as natural remedies and herbal medicines. They also play a dominant role in festivals and weddings, where besides from decorative purposes, an exquisite garland made of roses, marigold and jasmine called 'varmala' is exchanged by the bride and groom signifying acceptance between the both of them. Additionally, family members and well-wishers shower the couple with rose petals as a sign of blessings.
India's association with floriculture dates back to the era of the Vedas and Puranas. While the commercial flower growing states include Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Maharashtra, the most scenic, must-visit flower valleys are located in Munnar Valley, Kaes Plateau, Uttarakhand, Nagaland's Dzükou Valley and Kashmir's Tulip Garden. According to statistics, the Indian Floriculture market was worth INR 188.7 Billion in 2019.
Flowers, festivities and fabrics
It is no surprise that an element as diverse and dominant across all areas of life eventually made its way into our weaves. Artisans found immense inspiration from the stunning array of colourful flowers around them that they incorporated it as motifs onto their weaves. Be it small and simple buttis on the body or intricate and exquisite designs on the border and pallu, they remain a classic favourite that brings to life the many hues of nature through artistic expressions like these. The magic of floral motifs is the ability of the weaver to merge a melange of different blooms to create unique designs each time. At Sundari Silks, all our handcrafted collection of sarees ranging from the timeless Kanchipuram to the daily wear Tussars to the breezy cottons and chiffons, feature the beautiful and bountiful pushpam motif.