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Books > History > Madurai Malligai - Madurai and Its Jasmine (A Celebration)
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Madurai Malligai - Madurai and Its Jasmine (A Celebration)
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Madurai Malligai - Madurai and Its Jasmine (A Celebration)
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About the Book
Madurai Malligai is an exuberant celebration of the jasmine or malligai, with the spotlight on the unique variety grown in and around Madurai, the jasmine capital of India. From its origins in antiquity to its current role not only as one of life's simple pleasures but also as a commercially viable commodity, the book unravels the mesmerizing story of this flower. So what makes the Madurai malligai special and why is it considered a symbol of auspiciousness, purity and love? And how has it remained an intrinsic part of the ethos of Madurai and its people despite the pressures of a changing world?

With a compelling blend of cultural and historical facts, colorful literary allusions, and breathtaking photographs, this multi-layered volume goes beyond coffee-book cliches to answer such questions by meshing together in a sprawling fresco, the temple city of Madurai. the fragrance of its ethereal malligai. and the lives of its ubiquitous flower vendors. Although people often look through them with unseeing eyes, oblivious to the magic of their art and the hard lives they lead, the flower seeds are closely woven into the social fabric of the city and play a vital role in its economy, and this tribute to them seeks to correct the way they are perceived. So pause to share their thoughts hopes and dreams for they speak for themselves. and straight from the heart!

Uma Kannan's specialty book. Madurai Malligai, which showcases this magical flower unique to Madurai, has something of interest for everyone -historians, flower weavers. those who can Madurai their home, and the discerning tourist as well. Long live the Madurai malligai and the humble malligai weaver!

Preface
My first glimpse of the jasmine was in Chennai, then known as Madras. As young children, we had been told that we should not visit a temple empty-handed and a little bundle of neatly-strung jasmine wrapped in a bit of fresh banana leaf and tied with banana fiber was always carried as an offering to the deity. Moreover, dressing up was never complete unless we tucked a few strands of jasmine in our hair in much the same way as we put on jeweler.

When I arrived in Madurai after my marriage, the city seemed to revel in an abundance of jasmine. The only Indian Airlines flight to Chennai, which was known as the 'Malli Special' in the 1970s, would be loading baskets and baskets of Madurai malli or malligai(jasmine) to Chennai, and for onward transportation from there to other cities and towns. I remember thinking once that there were more jasmine baskets on the flight than passengers! Being a recent 'import' from the UK, I found this a strange sight indeed, although I was quite used to seeing puppies in crates ready to be loaded on international flights.

Thirty-four years later, the jasmine took on a new meaning for me, on a more personal level, when I arranged a number of malli workshops through the Madurai Chapter of INT ACH. The Pushpanjali event organized by the Crafts Council of Tamilnadu at Coimbatore in 2005 was an eye-opener too. It was then decided that a book to celebrate the Madurai malligai would be an ideal tribute to this charming flower.

It is often said in Madurai that there is no wedding without the jasmine. But times are changing, and the Madurai malligai now has competition from roses, lilies, carnations and all sorts of exotic and expensive blooms that are often preferred in flower arrangements. Despite its heavenly fragrance, the malligai has two major limitations - its short stem and its size make it more suitable for stringing into garlands (although efforts have been made to incorporate it in contemporary designs as well). Also, youngsters sporting shorter hairstyles and western clothes do not cherish the jasmine unlike girls of earlier generations, in the days of the dhavani (half-sari) and the long plait.

So why write a book on the jasmine? To begin with, I wasn't very clear about this, but after constant visits to the flower weavers, seeing them at work, listening to their stories, and witnessing the early morning ritual of the picking of the buds, day after day, I realized that the jasmine has a special relevance, as the lives and stories of the jasmine weavers are woven into each length of jasmine they string. And this will truly come alive only if we know what happens behind the scenes. Also, traditionally, the jasmine has held an important position in the day-to-day lives of Indians and it is hoped that the publication of this book will not only showcase this magical flower in a befitting manner, but also encourage the jasmine weavers to feel a justifiable sense of pride in their craft.

Over the centuries, Madurai has seen the rise and fall of kings and dynasties. Amidst the shifting sands of history, the city, like any other, has undergone many upheavals. But through all the vicissitudes of time, the aroma of a small white flower - the fragile and delicate malligai - continues to linger gently in the air like a throwback from the distant past, untouched either by turmoil or progress.

" Very few places in India or elsewhere are as closely linked with a flower as Madurai is with the malligai. Indeed, the malligai - like the Meenakshi temple - is synonymous with the very heritage and lifestyle of this sacred city in Tamilnadu. And, even today, its compelling fragrance suffuses the dazzling kaleidoscope of Madurai's sights and sounds ... and continues to waft in the breeze long after darkness falls, the clamor is stilled, and the city goes to sleep.

Writing this book has been like a long and fascinating journey for me, not only across fields redolent with the perfume of this exquisite flower, but also through the lives of the malligai weavers. Who are these humble men and women who magically transform the mounds of soft white fragrance into works of art, for adorning the deity in a temple, a welcoming doorway, the hair of a new bride at a traditional wedding ... or for honoring a VIP, or the memory of a loved one, long departed?

Every day, the malligai weavers bring warmth and good cheer and fragrance to the homes of many, but do their own lives blossom too? After all, right across the country, in cities and towns, there is a booming trade in flowers, and the big players are making big bucks. But are the benefits trickling down to those who deserve them the most? Not really - and the contrast is often stark. So how do these men and women keep their hopes and dreams alive, and what are their stories? With deadpan faces they mull over my questions, and it takes a while for them to open up as they cannot understand why their mundane lives should be of interest to anyone.

Introduction
Jasmine - its very name conjures up in our mind a fragrance as haunting as the call of a faraway flute, while its color symbolizes purity, chastity, contentment, peace and love, for the devout Hindu. What is it that makes the jasmine so very special? And why has it been called the 'queen of flowers' or 'moonbeams in the garden'?

Contrary to popular belief, the word 'jasmine' is not the name of a single plant or flower. In fact, many different types of jasmine are found around the world. And, although the flower is native to tropical and sub-tropical regions, during the past few centuries its gentle, revitalizing presence has spread to the slightly warmer areas of other regions including North America, where it was successfully introduced several years ago.

Some varieties of jasmine are shrubs and others are creepers or climbers ... and strangely enough, they belong to the olive family (genus: Jasmine». Jasmine flowers are usually milk-white, or off-white, and sometimes, even yellowish-white in color. The leaves are thick and leathery, and jasmine fields sparkle and shine like a sea of green, especially after the rains.

Among the tropical blooms of Southeast Asia, Hindus consider the jasmine one of the most sacred flowers. Indeed, no major Hindu ritual or festivity, no puja or ceremony from birth to death is complete without the jasmine. While certain flowers are not offered to particular deities (this is a matter of age- old tradition), the jasmine may be used in the worship of all Hindu gods and goddesses. Moreover, the jasmine is used both for decoration and as an offering to the deity during worship.

This tiny flower is frail and has a very short shelf-life, yet its fragrance animates the spirit of entire communities (as in Madur al). and it is that which transforms the jasmine into something mystical and imperishable.

So call it jasmine in English, jasemin in French, or yasamma In Arabic (from which its French and English names seem to have been derived), or go with malligai, malli or million in Tamil. .. What does it matter? A jasmine by any other name would smell as sweet!

Book's Contents and Sample Pages









Madurai Malligai - Madurai and Its Jasmine (A Celebration)

Item Code:
NAX524
Cover:
HARDCOVER
Edition:
2019
ISBN:
9789353002411
Language:
English
Size:
9.50 X 9.50 inch
Pages:
156 (Throughout Color Illustrations)
Other Details:
Weight of the Book: 0.93 Kg
Price:
$40.00
Discounted:
$30.00   Shipping Free
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$10.00 (25%)
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About the Book
Madurai Malligai is an exuberant celebration of the jasmine or malligai, with the spotlight on the unique variety grown in and around Madurai, the jasmine capital of India. From its origins in antiquity to its current role not only as one of life's simple pleasures but also as a commercially viable commodity, the book unravels the mesmerizing story of this flower. So what makes the Madurai malligai special and why is it considered a symbol of auspiciousness, purity and love? And how has it remained an intrinsic part of the ethos of Madurai and its people despite the pressures of a changing world?

With a compelling blend of cultural and historical facts, colorful literary allusions, and breathtaking photographs, this multi-layered volume goes beyond coffee-book cliches to answer such questions by meshing together in a sprawling fresco, the temple city of Madurai. the fragrance of its ethereal malligai. and the lives of its ubiquitous flower vendors. Although people often look through them with unseeing eyes, oblivious to the magic of their art and the hard lives they lead, the flower seeds are closely woven into the social fabric of the city and play a vital role in its economy, and this tribute to them seeks to correct the way they are perceived. So pause to share their thoughts hopes and dreams for they speak for themselves. and straight from the heart!

Uma Kannan's specialty book. Madurai Malligai, which showcases this magical flower unique to Madurai, has something of interest for everyone -historians, flower weavers. those who can Madurai their home, and the discerning tourist as well. Long live the Madurai malligai and the humble malligai weaver!

Preface
My first glimpse of the jasmine was in Chennai, then known as Madras. As young children, we had been told that we should not visit a temple empty-handed and a little bundle of neatly-strung jasmine wrapped in a bit of fresh banana leaf and tied with banana fiber was always carried as an offering to the deity. Moreover, dressing up was never complete unless we tucked a few strands of jasmine in our hair in much the same way as we put on jeweler.

When I arrived in Madurai after my marriage, the city seemed to revel in an abundance of jasmine. The only Indian Airlines flight to Chennai, which was known as the 'Malli Special' in the 1970s, would be loading baskets and baskets of Madurai malli or malligai(jasmine) to Chennai, and for onward transportation from there to other cities and towns. I remember thinking once that there were more jasmine baskets on the flight than passengers! Being a recent 'import' from the UK, I found this a strange sight indeed, although I was quite used to seeing puppies in crates ready to be loaded on international flights.

Thirty-four years later, the jasmine took on a new meaning for me, on a more personal level, when I arranged a number of malli workshops through the Madurai Chapter of INT ACH. The Pushpanjali event organized by the Crafts Council of Tamilnadu at Coimbatore in 2005 was an eye-opener too. It was then decided that a book to celebrate the Madurai malligai would be an ideal tribute to this charming flower.

It is often said in Madurai that there is no wedding without the jasmine. But times are changing, and the Madurai malligai now has competition from roses, lilies, carnations and all sorts of exotic and expensive blooms that are often preferred in flower arrangements. Despite its heavenly fragrance, the malligai has two major limitations - its short stem and its size make it more suitable for stringing into garlands (although efforts have been made to incorporate it in contemporary designs as well). Also, youngsters sporting shorter hairstyles and western clothes do not cherish the jasmine unlike girls of earlier generations, in the days of the dhavani (half-sari) and the long plait.

So why write a book on the jasmine? To begin with, I wasn't very clear about this, but after constant visits to the flower weavers, seeing them at work, listening to their stories, and witnessing the early morning ritual of the picking of the buds, day after day, I realized that the jasmine has a special relevance, as the lives and stories of the jasmine weavers are woven into each length of jasmine they string. And this will truly come alive only if we know what happens behind the scenes. Also, traditionally, the jasmine has held an important position in the day-to-day lives of Indians and it is hoped that the publication of this book will not only showcase this magical flower in a befitting manner, but also encourage the jasmine weavers to feel a justifiable sense of pride in their craft.

Over the centuries, Madurai has seen the rise and fall of kings and dynasties. Amidst the shifting sands of history, the city, like any other, has undergone many upheavals. But through all the vicissitudes of time, the aroma of a small white flower - the fragile and delicate malligai - continues to linger gently in the air like a throwback from the distant past, untouched either by turmoil or progress.

" Very few places in India or elsewhere are as closely linked with a flower as Madurai is with the malligai. Indeed, the malligai - like the Meenakshi temple - is synonymous with the very heritage and lifestyle of this sacred city in Tamilnadu. And, even today, its compelling fragrance suffuses the dazzling kaleidoscope of Madurai's sights and sounds ... and continues to waft in the breeze long after darkness falls, the clamor is stilled, and the city goes to sleep.

Writing this book has been like a long and fascinating journey for me, not only across fields redolent with the perfume of this exquisite flower, but also through the lives of the malligai weavers. Who are these humble men and women who magically transform the mounds of soft white fragrance into works of art, for adorning the deity in a temple, a welcoming doorway, the hair of a new bride at a traditional wedding ... or for honoring a VIP, or the memory of a loved one, long departed?

Every day, the malligai weavers bring warmth and good cheer and fragrance to the homes of many, but do their own lives blossom too? After all, right across the country, in cities and towns, there is a booming trade in flowers, and the big players are making big bucks. But are the benefits trickling down to those who deserve them the most? Not really - and the contrast is often stark. So how do these men and women keep their hopes and dreams alive, and what are their stories? With deadpan faces they mull over my questions, and it takes a while for them to open up as they cannot understand why their mundane lives should be of interest to anyone.

Introduction
Jasmine - its very name conjures up in our mind a fragrance as haunting as the call of a faraway flute, while its color symbolizes purity, chastity, contentment, peace and love, for the devout Hindu. What is it that makes the jasmine so very special? And why has it been called the 'queen of flowers' or 'moonbeams in the garden'?

Contrary to popular belief, the word 'jasmine' is not the name of a single plant or flower. In fact, many different types of jasmine are found around the world. And, although the flower is native to tropical and sub-tropical regions, during the past few centuries its gentle, revitalizing presence has spread to the slightly warmer areas of other regions including North America, where it was successfully introduced several years ago.

Some varieties of jasmine are shrubs and others are creepers or climbers ... and strangely enough, they belong to the olive family (genus: Jasmine». Jasmine flowers are usually milk-white, or off-white, and sometimes, even yellowish-white in color. The leaves are thick and leathery, and jasmine fields sparkle and shine like a sea of green, especially after the rains.

Among the tropical blooms of Southeast Asia, Hindus consider the jasmine one of the most sacred flowers. Indeed, no major Hindu ritual or festivity, no puja or ceremony from birth to death is complete without the jasmine. While certain flowers are not offered to particular deities (this is a matter of age- old tradition), the jasmine may be used in the worship of all Hindu gods and goddesses. Moreover, the jasmine is used both for decoration and as an offering to the deity during worship.

This tiny flower is frail and has a very short shelf-life, yet its fragrance animates the spirit of entire communities (as in Madur al). and it is that which transforms the jasmine into something mystical and imperishable.

So call it jasmine in English, jasemin in French, or yasamma In Arabic (from which its French and English names seem to have been derived), or go with malligai, malli or million in Tamil. .. What does it matter? A jasmine by any other name would smell as sweet!

Book's Contents and Sample Pages









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