Celebrated in Indian folklore, the aromatic Parijat flower – pure white with orange-pink centre and tube – is the inspiration for this garden room. A mango tree growing outside also begs to be included in the conception of the décor, which is a fusion of glowing pink, magenta and mango yellow, offset by silver grey. This is a twin bedroom. It’s additional feature is a small glass-enclosed sitting room with a low cushion-filled divan (Indian style couch) and a traditional Indian-style writing desk. The room leads out into the garden, and overlooks a screen of mature khejri and siamese cassia trees and fields beyond.
The Parijat is native to south Asia, and can also be found across south-east Asia. It is the official flower of the Kanchanaburi province of Thailand (called Karanikaa in Thai) and the state flower of the Indian state of West Bengal (called Shefali in Bengali).
The Parijat is worshipped in India as a celestial tree, one of the symbols of eternal purity and goodness that was thrown up when the oceans were churned during an epic battle between the gods and the demons (samudramanthan), symbolic of the never-ending struggle between good and evil. It is believed to have been brought down from the heavens by Lord Krishna, and is associated with the worship of the mother godess Durga.
Its intriguing quality of flowering during the night and falling to the ground before the first rays of the sun, has spawned many myths. One is that the flowers are seen to be voluntarily offering themselves to the earth mother in worship. In south Asia, the Parijat is the only flower that is permitted to be picked up from the ground to be offered in worship (as against the injunction that flowers used in worship must be freshly plucked). There is also the romantic myth of the princess Parijataka who is believed to have fallen in love with the sun god. Despite all her efforts to win his love, she was rejected by him. Heartbroken, she committed suicide and from her ashes sprang a tree with the most beautiful and fragrant flowers. Unable to stand the sight of the heartless lover, the flowers bloom only at night and fall to the ground like tear drops before the sun rises.
The flowers and leaves are prized for their multiple medicinal – immunostimulant, hepatoprotective, anti-viral, anti-microbial, anti-fungal – activities, and native medicines are made from them in the ancient Ayurvedic tradition. The oil is extracted as perfume. The flowers – brilliant white with orange-pink centres and a glowing orange-pink tube – were also traditionally used to dye the yellow silk and cotton robes worn by Hindu priests and Buddhist monks.