Sunday, July 27, 2008

Is fragrant frangipani?

Was walking down Lloyds Road - as a part of one of Nizhal's Tree Walks, more about them some other day - when I saw this frangipani tree, thick with flowers. And along with some childhood memories, unanswered questions came back. The memories are of two kinds: being lured to the plant by the sharp scent of its flowers, picking the fresh ones, punching a small hole in each petal to fold them back over the stem of the flower and ending up with a yellow-and-white ornament. Of course, as a kid rushing to make more signet-rings than the others, plucking the flowers was an essential part of the routine. But in the villages, there was always frustration at children playing with these flowers. A belief that the scent of these flowers attract the spirits - and snakes - during dusk meant that we were all frisked thoroughly for our ornaments before we were let back inside the house.

The name of the plant was also intriguing; it sounded so very Indian with the 'pani' ending (that ending denotes 'bearer' in many Indian languages), but it also sounded delightfully foreign, when you twist your tongue over the 'frangi' bit... and knowing that it was an imported plant added to its charm. Of course it had its local names, too - so many of them, in fact, that I do not remember even one!

But searching for a connect between the etymological roots of 'frangipani' and 'fragrant' has got me nowhere. I guess I should be happy to just walk under the plant, enjoy its fragrance and be thankful that it is there!


sreesnake said...

The fragrance sure is bewitching.The shade the tree provides is almost as good!

Shantaram said...

>> Sree>> But you must tell us if it is true about the scent attracting snakes!

sreesnake said...

One of the thousands of myths about snakes!!!Snakes have better business, than to smell flowers..they'd prefer the scent of frogs.

Shantaram said...

>> Sree>> If YOU say so, then it must be true!