We are kind of heading towards autumn in India. Less marked by weather and more by festivals these days. So a little bit about the kuṟiñci, an autumnal flower, that bloomed in some parts of the South this year.
The poems that are set in the autumn months are remarkably consistent in imagery and in resulting mood. In the Sanskrit and Prakrit poems, the monsoon has ended, the skies have cleared, and the whole world is cool and washed clean, leaving the poets with a fresh emotional canvas. The Tamil poems set in the autumn months are composed in the kuṟiñci (conehead flower) landscape, the one appropriate to love-in-union and more especially to love that is kalavu (stolen, clandestine) and not yet legitimized by formal marriage. These poems are set by convention in the hills, and even though the heavy rains of the monsoon have ended, the poets who composed poems in this context still draw on rainy, misty imagery set against the dense darkness of midnight. The Circle of Six Seasons, A Selection from Old Tamil, Prakrit and Sanskrit Poetry.
The Kuṟiñci (குறிஞ்சி) is a shrub that flowers once in twelve years. This year is one of them. It is often associated with autumn (शरद्) by way of the season’s association with the kuṟiñci poetic mode. In general what is referred to is the neelakuṟiñci (blue kuṟiñci).
Kuṟiñci painting by Remya Kumar.
Neelakuṟiñci up close.