Have your scents ever been touched, blessed? Mine yes. Particularly with flowers. I have something with flowers and I am always curious when I travel abroad about the flower traditions. I was touched in Hawaii, in Bali and in Thaïland. A bless for the senses …
Hawaiian Leis, the well known flower garlands:
Leis are one of the most recognizable symbols of Hawaii. This beautiful hand-woven wreath is usually made of tropical flowers, though it may also be made of shells or other materials. Flower leis are most often made of orchids or plumeria. Both varieties are known for their large, fragrant blooms.
Today, leis are popular gifts for dozens of different occasions, and the gift of a lei has come to symbolize many different feelings. Though there are almost no restrictions on the occasion or meaning of a lei gift, if you are the recipient of a lei, there are a few guidelines to follow. A lei is a very special, hand-woven gift, and it is considered rude to refuse on. It should be treasured, especially if you are honored with a lei made from a particularly rare flower. The lei should be worn around the neck, head, or a hat brim. Do not wear leis around your neck if you are pregnant; according to superstition, this represents the tangling of the umbilical cord. To dispose of a lei, never throw it in the trash. Instead, return it to nature, either to the area where the flowers were collected, or by hanging it in a tree or floating it away in a body of water.
And not to forget that tradition I have met in most of tropical countries, a flower in your hair (keep this for a later post).
Thai phuang malai:
This is phuang malai, the Thai garland, an equivalent to the Japanese art of flower arrangement.
A garland can take on different shapes. It can either be circular to resemble a necklace or bracelet ending with two or more’tails’ of flower ribbons, or long with two strands of flowers separated by a ribbon. The most common type of phuang malai is held together by a string of tiny white malik blossoms. Yet another type of jasmine, this one without smell, is strung onto the garland. There is something particular about this flower called dok ruk, the flower of love. It neither looks like a flower nor feels like one. It resembles the top stone of an ancient Greek Corinthian pillar and if I did not know it was real I would say that it was made of plastic. The resilient dok ruk is what keeps the garland from withering away all too soon, helping it last for a maximum of five days. Yellow marigold or red roses add the final touches and the garland is ready.
Flower garlands were traditionally hung in front of windows, thus allowing the aromatic jasmine to waft into the house. Hung in front of Buddha statues, or pictures of monks, they act as offerings to celestial beings. Placed in front of photographs of relatives, they are offerings to the dearly departed. On spirit houses, phuang malai are used to please the spirits with their smell. In the car, they are believed to have the power to prevent accidents and if offered to guests, they substitute for words like’Welcome’.
Back home, in France I was missing these flower garlands. So I made some research to get mine at home. Ok, they won’t be as smelly and colorful but well, should do till next trip.
Read the tuto here on la mariée aux pieds nus.