I could probably do an entire blog on the seasons in India and the associated poems but for this blog I stick to posting when we are in the midst of a season. More often than not I post on the flowers of the season, given that they feature a good deal in describing beauty as well as in beauty rituals.
Today’s flower is the kadamba.
New woodland grass
My soul and the kadamba blossom together.
Rain clouds wet my eyes with their blue coryllium. Kshanika, Rabindranath Tagore.
The kadamba is so emblematic of the arrival of the monsoon in India that even the breeze is referred to as kadambanila in the season. It is not entirely common to spot a kadamba tree in India now and even less to find the blooms sold on urban streets. So its nice to see the blooms out and about in Bangladesh.
So let your hair
Now full of budding flowers
Bloom as it desires. Ainkurunuru 496.
The Kadamba tree usually flowers around July. References to the wearing of its flowers largely come from Kalidasa’s Ritusamhara and Meghadutam, sometimes rather confusingly as adorning the hair parting. This is probably the only image I have seen though where it is used as a hair ornament.
Art by Manishi Dey.
Their hips are golden with girdles of kadamba flowers
their shoulders streaked from earrings of banana buds
and their bosoms white with necklaces of jasmine
delicate of nature is the costume
favored by the fair ones.
In the clumps of ketaki
as the tiny leaves unfold
the spikes appear
with tufts as white as lambs’ tails.
Monsoon poems from here.
And to end here is the last stanza of the canto on Varsha (Rainy Season) in Ritusamhara:
A source of fascination to amorous* women,
A constant friend to trees, shrubs and creepers,
the very life and breath of all living beings–
May this season of rains rich in these benedictions
fully grant all desires accordant with your wellbeing
Translation courtesy The Loom of Time (Chandra Rajan).
*why does kamini sound better than amorous?!