Thursday, October 18, 2012

Progress Plant III: The Miracle Plant


Flowers... are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty out-values all the utilities of the world. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1844

Durga Puja is just around the corner. And one flower which is used in this puja is the 'Aparajita'. Aparajita is the Assamese and Bengali name for Butterfly Pea flower (scientific name: Clitoria ternatea). 'Aparajita' means 'undefeated'. The aparajita flower is said to be the favourite flower of goddess Durga and hence its use in Durga puja. And obviously, the flower usually blooms in the puja season. It is basically a perennial creeper and the flower varieties are the common indigo blue and rare white.

17th June 2012
Personally, I love flower vines and aparijita is one of the common flower vines found in Assam. An aunt of mine has both the white and indigo blue varieties of the flower in her home. When I visited her in January earlier this year, I plucked a couple of dried pods of seeds from one of the plants. As it was past the flowering season, I did not know which colour I had chosen. Anyways, I did not plant the seeds immediately on my return to Guwahati. In fact I had forgotten all about the pods for almost half a year.
20th June 2012
27th June 2012
10th July 2012
I finally planted the seeds in a clay pot in mid-June. I would feed the planted seeds some water and anxiously waited to see some sprouts. Finally, after three days I saw a cute little sprout standing upright. I simply could not help smiling to myself. As I had planted all the seeds from the two pods, one by one, a number of sprouts sprang up. All of them did not survive though (you know, theory of survival of the fittest!).

28th July 2012
7th August 2012

22nd September 2012
As the sprouts became little plants, they became taller and lankier day by day. I had to provide them something to lean on so that they can crawl and reach the grill of the balcony. Luckily, I had some bamboo stick and wire at my place. I made a bamboo net type support and inserted the frame in the soil. I tilted the frame to touch the balcony railing so that the plants can crawl up easily. Everyday I have been monitoring the growth and whether they climbing the right direction. If not, I unfurl the twirls and re-position them. Slowly and gradually, the plants have shot up and reached the ceiling. The twines are going haywire and I often need to position them on a support. The leaves are healthy green. I feel the plant is quite water-hungry as I find the soil of pot often dry at the end of the day (I water my plants in the morning) compared to the other pot plants.

17th October 2012
17th October 2012
With less than a week to Durga Puja, I wanted to see the flowers bloom badly. And yesterday morning, I got my flowery surprise! Perfect indigo blue aparajita flowers perched shyly on the higher end of the vines. There were around 6-7 flowers tucked in the green cover. I think they have been budding since a couple of days. But because of the bright green cover and their position high up, I could not notice. But I was so happy seeing my blue jewels that I spent a long time admiring them.

The butterfly pea flower has amazing medicinal properties and often termed as the 'Miracle Plant' . All the part of the plant--leaves, flowers, stems and roots, all have medicinal properties and extensively used in ayurveda. It is used both internally and externally. Aparajita is used as an appetizer, digestant and vermicide, in colds, skin diseases, for healthy pregnancies and even to enhance intellect. The medicinal prospects of this plant is unlimited. 

In an Indian household, aparajita has a place in both religion and medicine. But to me, its delicate petals and glowing colour has brought me inexplicable joy and solace.

To be overcome by the fragrance of flowers is a delectable form of defeat. ~Beverly Nichols
My blue jewels
 I will be the gladdest thing
Under the sun!
 I will touch a hundred flowers
And not pick one.
~Edna St. Vincent Millay, "Afternoon on a Hill"

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