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Thursday, June 10, 2010

On Mallis and Jasmines

This old post of mine which people had anyway debated a lot on for various reasons, was linked by Sue on my request in her Red Marker Blogathon post. A reader pointed out yesterday that all flowers are not Malli- only Jasmines are called Malli!

I get her point. As I was composing arguments in my head on what exactly is my grouse with labelling "all" flowers as Malli I found they were too many, so I decided to write a post. Infact, not only with Tamil but my grouse is with English also- Read on why.

Now to me, each flower is different. Each has a unique look, feel, scent, beauty, size of plant, colour of leaves.
Take the chandni flower-Moonbeam?? - (nandiavattai- I so love this name- moves around so deftly in the mouth) - it comes in different varieties- same size and "design" of flowers on both a plant that can go upto 6 feet tall with dark leaves and a shrub with light colored leaves. On the other hand, the tiny flowers form on a tiny plant with tiny leaves-that are ideally grown in pots. Apart from this variationin size and type of plant, it comes in other "designs" also- looks like a rose, or single layered, but with twisted petals. Now I take serious offence because they are called Crepe Jasmine in english. Seriously.... why call it jasmine again- get creative now. It doesn't even oxidise like a true blue jasmine after plucking.

Similarly I take serious objection that all "jasmines" end with Malli (Ok, I am not talking about Kotta malli- that's definitely not a jasmine). In all fairness, as long as the person with whom you are communicating understands what you are saying, it is fine. So when I am asked give me "malli" I will hand over coriander rather than jasmine in 9 out of 10 instances. Still, why Malli again?
Beli, Juhi, Chameli, Parijaat (Night jasmine, Pavala-malli).... all of them are either jasmines or malli. WHY?
What about the Rangoon Creeper (Madhumalti Lata)- Irangoon /illankara Malli? SERIOUSLY WHY?
pic courtsey- Travelpod
Ok this is yet again a jasmine- Tree jasmine- Millingtonia- arrrrg jasmine again and guess what it is called in Tamil- yes.. kattu malli. And how uncreative to call it Neem Chameli in Hindi? What the Hey

Ipomoea- Cardinal Vine/ Kamlata- is called kembumalligai.. yup, malli surfaces again
Arvensis is nakamalli (pic courtsey- Wiki)

Gardenia is Tikkamalli and the joke is -it is called Dikamali in Hindi (malli minus l)

And here's a malli that has nothing to do with Malli at all- infact it is as far removed from a malli as possible- A delightful Tulika book- Mallipoo where are you- on a piglet called Mallipoo. Payto the mother piglet goes for a sugarcane walk with Amma the elephant and Hutoxi ( I so love that name) the horse, leaving Bahadur the baby elephant and his brother & sister to look after her lovely babies- all 7 of them. As luck would have it, the piglets go missing and the three of them manage to find them one by one, Mallipoo being the most elusive yet most perfect of them all- read the book to find out why I say that. Ojas and Tejas loved the book - calling out Mallipoo where are you with great gusto as we read this book. The illustrations are delightful as usual, colourful and err... illustrative in a perfect manner.

pic courtsey- Tulika books

Tamil & Botanical Names courtsey-


apu said...

I am seriously awed at your knowledge of flower names, and that too in so many languages!

Itchingtowrite said...

@ apu- :) searches, gardening hobby helps!!

Asha said...

Good thing that in Malayalam jasmine is called mulla and only coriander is called malli.. No confusion :P

sandhya said...

Not counting the 'malli' which is the cursor on your blog! I like it. The only South-Indian language I am familiar with is Kannada, so I do not know many of names of the 'malli' flowers. Love reading your posts. De-lurking.

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