The Crotchet’s Corner

My perspective about all things inconsequential

The scent of a Rose

The Kerala festival of Onam, which is meant to celebrate the harvest, is just around the corner, and Malayalees are gearing up for this big occasion.

It is an occasion for uninhibited gluttony of the highest order, as the folks from God’s own country gorge on the traditional “Onamsadya”. It’s also an occasion to dress up – the “onakkodi” or new clothes worn on the day. The ladies wear the traditional “kasavu” sarees, the men wear the “mundu” or dhoti.

When attending a typical Onam get-together, one immediately notices the pleasant smell that emanates from the “Onapookkalam”, a carpet of gathered blossoms that consists of many varieties of foliage of differing tints. Commonly used flowers include Thumba (Lucas Aspera), Mukkutti (little tree plant), Chemparathy (shoe flower), Aripoo or Konginipoo (Lantana), Hanuman Kireedom (Red pagoda plant) and Chethi (Ixora).

This year, though, be prepared to observe a different kind of smell – the smell of roses.

While the male of species, reeking of an overpowering deodorant, has moved to wearing faded jeans and T-shirts that are two sizes too small, the switch to tradition on Onam day is quick. And, this year, though, instead of the traditional dhoti, one might well see the garment’s new avatar – the rose-scented version.

This has been pioneered by a dhoti manufacturer in Erode, is priced at around INR 400, and survives about 10 washes. This company is swamped with orders, it appears, and others in the business are apparently looking at providing versions with other floral fragrances.


It always amuses me when a Mallu male, with the slicked-down hair, nonchalantly hitches up his dhoti in public, unmindful of others around him, and struts around like a preening peacock. A sure-shot attention grabber.

At this year’s Onam, though, you are likely to get a whiff of the gent even before he makes a physical appearance.

The concept of looking “as fresh as a dasiy” has a new meaning. 

Wonder what they will think up next.



August 25, 2009 - Posted by | About this and that | , , , , ,

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