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Madurai Malli (Jasmine Flower): History, Importance and Varieties

M Kanika
M Kanika

Jasmine Flower is one of the oldest and best fragrant flowers. It is considered as the Queen of flowers and is called as the “Queen of Fragrance” or “Belle of India”, because of its exclusive scent & excellent fragrance, which soothes and refreshes within a second. Moreover, it has around 300 varieties.

Talking about its origin, Jasmine is said to have come across the seas from Asia to Europe, first it landed along Mediterranean Sea conquering Greece & Turkey, then reached Western Europe through Spain, after that France & Italy and then finally landed in England during the 17th century. 

There are several species of Mogra that are grown in India, and is popularly known for its attractive fragrance. Jasmine has different names in different parts of India - Chameli, MotiaJaatiMallige, Juhi, Mogra or Moonlight in the grove. Jasmines are cultivated throughout the country but its commercial cultivation is confined to Madurai, Coimbatore, Dindigul, Bangalore, Mysore & Kolar, Jaunpur & Gazipur, Knnauj, Jaipur, Udaipur, Kota & Ajmer, KolaghatPancskuraRanaghat and other parts of Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.

History of Madurai Malli

Madurai is a province of Tamil Nadu, in India and Madurai Malli is the Jasmine flower, known for its strong and powerful, mysteriously attractive & seductive fragrance. Because of its place of origin, it is known as Madurai Malli. This is a very old traditional flower and it has a botanical name “Jasminium”. It is mainly cultivated in the district of Madurai and the neighboring places of Madurai like Theni, Sivaganga, Virudhunagar and Dindigul 

Flowers hold a very special place in Indian Culture, as they are intrinsic to so many rituals and customs. Jasmine the queen of flower is associated with love & romance and is also mentioned in the ancient work and Hindu scriptures like the “Mahabharata and Kamasutra”.  

The fish eyed Goddess, Meenakshi Amman, is a manifestation Goddess Parvati, is adorned with a Mallipoo (Jasmine flower) in a ceremony that prepares her for her time with her husband Lord Shiva. One of most common belief is, the love for the malli flower, which the Goddess has makes the unique variety of jasmine grown in and around Madurai and is called as the Madurai Malligai.   

Madurai Malli, as the Jasmine flower from the ancient temple town is known and is famed for its fragrance. The Madurai Jasmine plays a key role in Tamil Nadu’s culture & economy and is consider as sacred flower, it is said that the Jasmine flower has a unique link with Madurai, since 300 BC or even earlier. There is a mythological story that says that the king of Ayodhya, Parthan worshipped Lord Shiva in a forest filled with jasmine vines and became “Malleeswaran” after this.    

The Madurai jasmine symbolizes the ancient Tamil tradition and is regarded as one of the few remnants of our cultural past. As jasmine has the enduring demand for varied uses, it is cultivated in 1,200 hectares alone in the eponymous Tamil Nadu district.  
Not one or two, in fact all the women of Tamil Nadu would have adorned their hair with this beautiful flower at least once in their life time.  

One of the famous writers, composer and public speaker Beverley Nichols, who wrote more than 60 books, said the Jasmine of Madurai, has a captivating fragrance. And “To be overcome by the fragrance of the flower is a delectable form of defeat”. 

Varieties of Jasmine

There are many varieties of Jasmine and some of them are as follows: 

Gundumalli: It belongs to the species Jasminum grandiflorum. It is released by Tamil Nadu Agriculture University, Coimbatore and is suitable for loose flower production & oil extraction.  

Parimullai: It belongs to the species of Jasminum auriculatum and has medium sized round bud with flowering duration of 9 months/year.  

Ramban & Madanban: It belongs to the species of Jasminum sambac and is high yielding variety long flower buds.  

Royal Jasmine: It has the largest flowers of all jasmines, and these flowers don’t have intense fragrance and have a subtle scent. 

Arabian Jasmine: It is different from the typical jasmine flower; its plant produces yellow flowers in the late winter and these flowers has aromatic fragrance. 

Lemon Scented Jasmine: This flower is prized for its sweet fragrance; it is a bright white flower. It is considered to be the great garden plant to attract butterflies, birds and bees to the garden. 

Common Jasmine: It is considered as a state flower of Pakistan and grows in Indian Continent. It has the five petaled white flower with pointed leaves, and it is also known as the Poet’s Jasmine.  

Cape Jasmine: It has a beautiful lance shaped flowers and has an astonishing fragrance and is also known as Gardenia.  

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