Imagine running barefoot, out on to the dew soaked grass at the crack of dawn. Imagine the soft light spreading out across the sky to light up the night sky. And then your eyes trail on to the wet grass where at the wake of this nippy dawn lies a veil of white and saffron, fragrant Shiuli.
These tiny, creamy white buds on saffron stalks that unfurl their petals in the dark of the night, drop to the ground, as soon as they bloom, to crown the dewy grass with the first light. This white and saffron carpet from a Bangali’s morning is the harbinger of Sharat, the season of longer nights, the crisp night breeze, a sharp golden sun and the coming of Sharadotsav, the festival of Sharat, when the Mahishasurmadini Durga returns to us as Uma.
And here’s how to smell the Shiuli, the way my mother taught me. Pick up a handful of the star shaped flowers, rub them gently between your palms and then inhale the fragrance. The short life of the Shiuli notwithstanding, the heady fragrance will remain with you forever more. I know because it is this memory of the fragrance that I have carried with me wherever I have travelled . This is how I take my Shiuli with me wherever I go .