Saturday, April 17, 2010

Jasmine On A String

Temples in India are a provider of employment to millions of people. The offerings, into which our prayers are woven before being presented to God, are created by people like Mallika and her two children. For them these offerings are more than your desires, they present them a livelihood. Strange how things are so connected in this world. The more we desire, the more they earn!


Playing hopscotch were two girls
under the shade of the banyan tree.
Long hair done up in braids
that fell unto their knee
danced as they swung about
kicking stone and dust.
As Mallika rushed home
a basket full of flowers
sat lightly on her head.
“Hurry up you two, no time to waste”
She shouted out to the girls,
“So much to do before the crowd gets here”
She muttered to herself
as she hurried home.

“Shoo! Get up! Go find another place”
She screamed
at the hens, the dog and the drunken husband.
She and the girls sat down
with flowers before them
to be strung into garlands
before the temple opens.
Their fingers flew in perfect concert
two jasmines at a time
knotted with a string
till moora after moora the garland grew
pearly white jasmine garlands
that smelled like the heavens.

The temple doors are open
Coconut, camphor and betel in trays
lined up in the stalls outside.
The girls with baskets in their hands
cried out to every visitor
“Please Sir, Amma, moora for 5 rupees!”
On the trays are placed the jasmine
as offering in prayer to the Gods
Women and girls pause to pin
to their hair long stringed jasmines.
The smell of camphor, incense
and jasmine hung heavy in the air
even after the temple
closed down for the day.
Another day starts tomorrow
with more jasmines to string.  

© Nalini Hebbar/openmind/2009 - all rights reserved
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Shilpa Garg said...

Wow! That's so beautifully expressed!! You have captured their life so wonderfully! Loved it!!
Cheers :)

Vinita Apte said...

Nalini you pick up such different subjects for your poetry..I liked this one :)

Chubby Chieque said...

Oh... love your shots, dear lady.

So pretty and the colourful ambiance give a warmth feelings.

TY for sharing the wonderful India.

Greetings from Stockholm

Nalini Hebbar said...

Thank you Shilpa, Lpine and Richie for your beautiful comments.

Chapters From My Life said...

There were days when I would occasionally visit temples with my friends and your poetry brought those lovely memories of carefree days back..

Tarun Mitra said...

"Another day starts tomorrow, with more Jasmine to strings"

Now, not everything in this work is perfect, nay even close to it, I won't say that your this poetic piece is even rhyming, but it conveyed the emotions well...

I liked the last line, as the summary of the entire poetry

Garima said...

Closely woven piece from a random observation.Very much expected from you!


Purba said...

Jasmine strands in your hair, makes you feel very feminine.

Nalini Hebbar said...

@ Tarun...ever heard of free verse? the Americas structure is out, condemned as old and alien.
This was not written to rhyme but it does have rhythm, doesn't it?...try reading it out loud
thanks ALL...for catching the emotions and the simplicity of the moment

Rajendra Raikwar said...

very nice