Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Beauty of Plants: Arabian Jasmine (Jasminum sambac)

Jasminum sambac, commonly known as Arabian Jasmine, is a species of jasmine native to South and Southeast Asia and today cultivated throughout much of the tropics. Its flowers are thick and extremely fragrant, and in South Asia in particular they are commonly used for a wide variety of decorative and ceremonial purposes.
They are a frequent component of wedding decorations and of the garlands placed around the necks of brides and bridegrooms as well as honored dignitaries, and they are also often braided into a bride's hair or even worn as a hair ornament on an everyday basis, particularly in southern India. Female Bharata Natyam dancers also traditionally wear strings of Jasminum sambac flowers in their hair, although in practice these are now often artificial. The flowers are also often used in religious offerings, and if one spends time in an Indian city such as Mumbai or Delhi, one is likely to be approached at some point by a street vendor - usually a child - selling strings of fragrant jasmine buds (If one is to believe this article http://www.omanholiday.co.uk/Scents-of-Arabia-by-Tony-Walsh-for-Arab-News.pdf, this is also common in Oman).

One can hardly understate the pleasant ubiqity of this plant in South Asian culture. चमेली or "Chameli", one of the common names of jasmine in Hindi - though applied more accurately to two other species of jasmine, namely Jasminum officinale and Jasminum polyanthum - is even the title of a Bollywood movie whose main character, played by Kareena Kapoor, is named Chameli, and among the Indian and Pakistani diaspora in the US a pot of Jasminum sambac can be found as a house plant in many homes.

1 comment:

  1. Jasmine grows in profusion in private gardens in Muscat - I used to live in one village where a very substantial amount of land space was given over to its cultivation

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