Skip to content

Kaliyaan

2007 June 10
by taiyyaba
Fallen Jasmine

Fallen Jasmine

Her small, curved white petals must surely be the form a pearl would take if it could choose to blossom into a flower. And if sounds could ever become scents, her sweet, soulful aroma would certainly be the scent of a sitar.

The jasmine flower.

These flowers are iconic in Pakistani culture. They’re in every flower garden, in the imagery of innumerable ghazals, and are threaded into a bride’s hair on her wedding day. Their small stems have a natural hole that makes it easy to thread them onto string. Every time you stop at a traffic signal in Pakistan, a man will come to your window selling necklaces and bracelets of pearly jasmine buds. And many an afternoon has blended into evening sharing stories over sweet cups of jasmine green tea.

Their scent is absolutely legendary. Grandmothers will go outside after fajr, pick the morning blossoms and place them in a bowl of water in the center of the room (reserving two blossoms to wear as earrings, of course). That one small bowl of jasmine flowers will perfume the whole room with a delicate yet strong scent for two days.

The awe-inspiring scent even inspired a local religious legend; the popular claim is that this soft, sweet scent must be what the Prophet Muhammad (S) smelled like. Many Muslims here will automatically start to recite the Salawaat, or blessings on the Prophet, when they smell the fragrance of the jasmine blossoms.

Allahumma salli ‘ala sayyidina Muhammad….

Jasmine blossoms are enshrined in my earliest childhood memories of visiting my grandmother in Pakistan. My Guddo Phuppo, may Allah grant her Jannah, was crippled by polio at an early age, making it extremely difficult for her to get around by herself. But without fail, every morning, she’d wake up early and make her way to the courtyard using her support stool. She’d pick the most beautiful and most fragrant kaliyaan from the garden and, when I woke up, she’d come into my room. Smiling from ear to ear with a jasmine blossom earring in each ear, she’d hold up a garland of kaliyaan. “Look what I made for you!” she’d say as she put the delicate necklace on me. “Let’s go play Luddo!” May Allah perfume her grave with the fragrance of Jannah the way she perfumed my family with her love, her smiles, and her jasmine necklaces. Ameen.

    Translations

* Kalee = A jasmine flower. Kaliyaan (pl)
* Guddo Phuppo = Phuppo means “aunt,” specifically your father’s sister. Guddo was my aunt’s nickname; it means doll.
* Luddo = Parcheesi. My Guddo Phuppo’s favorite game.

One Response leave one →
  1. June 15, 2007

    that os a beautiful duaa, mashallah…

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS