A large room on the upper level, the all-white décor – redolent of jasmine – is a counterpoint to the deep copper hues of the four-poster king bed, and traditional Rajasthani furniture. It has a fireplace, windows overlooking tree tops and green fields, and a balcony that hangs over the pool. An excellent choice as a honeymooners’ hideaway.
The fragrant Jasmine that blooms all around the haveli through the summer and drenches Savista with its moist exquisite fragrance ( as if to compensate for the rigours of the dry Rajasthan summer) is the inspiration for this all-white room. The copper coloured bed and cupboard are examples of old-style Rajasthani wood work, while the traditional copper water canteens standing on the cupboard-top remind us that drinking water stored in copper containers is considered healthy in the Indian ayurvedic (indigenous system of medicine) tradition.
Jasmines are native to the tropical and sub-tropical regions of Asia, Africa and Australasia. Their centre of diversity is South and South East Asia, and of the 200 species, only one is native to Europe. The Jasmine (genus Jasminum) belongs to the olive family (Oleaceae). The name is derived from the Persian Yasmeen (“gift from God”), through Arabic and Latin, and its hallmark is its pure white beauty and unique fragrance. In Hindi it is called chameli and mogra, and it is malli in the southern Indian languages. Typically, the buds get formed in the heat of the day and the petals open up in the cool of the late evening and night. The Jasmine blooms in greater profusion during the waxing phase of the moon.
Across the Oriental world, the Jasmine is revered for its many symbolisms. In India, it is associated with the spiritual quest and divine hope, and is used extensively in worship and marriage and other rituals. It is grown in home gardens, sold by the weight in the market, and in the summer months you will also see women sitting by the roadside weaving it into garlands for the consumer on the run. Women in South and South East Asia routinely wear it in their hair and offer Jasmine garlands as gifts to women visitors to the home.
Pakistan, Indonesia and the Philippines all honour the Jasmine as their national flower. In Thailand, it is the symbol of the pure and unconditional love associated with motherhood. In China, it symbolises love, sensuality and attachment, amiability, nobility, grace and elegance. In Syria, it is the symbolic flower of Damascus which is called the “City of Jasmine”.
In these countries Jasmine is also used in many other ways. Jasmine essential oil is produced in India, Egypt, China and Morocco. In aromatherapy it is used as an anti-depressant and to promote relaxation. The scent is used in incenses and massage oils. Some cultures believe that when Jasmine is burned or worn it will attract wealth, spiritual peace and prophetic dreams. The drinking of Jasmine tea is believed to prevent cancer. In the Indian ayurvedic tradition, the Jasmine flower is believed to have medicinal uses and is used to treat medicinal worms, ulcers, boils, skin diseases and eye disorders.