/The Gul Mohar

The Gul Mohar

In the month of May, when the entire subcontinent reels under the scorching sun, the Gul mohar brings forth its flowers—lovely, bold and bright red, with gentle spikes of yellow! The flowers reach out to the sky with a daredevilry that seems to challenge the sun itself—“See if you can shrivel me, see if I give in!”

And the flowers blossom every day and dry up by the end of it. Yet they go on— every day there are abundant blossoms! Hundreds of them on every branch, every arm that seems to hold them up as an offering to the denizens of the skies.

There are no leaves; they will come later when the blossoms have shed their electrifying glory. The opening aria is put together by the flamboyant flowers. The feathery leaves will come in a smooth cantata when the gorgeous symphony of the green will meld with the brilliant red of the flowers and create an enchantment all its own.

I have often marveled at the colors but have never dared to make them my own—would I have the panache to stand alone in colors so unique?

In the world of Botany, the gul mohar is known as the Deonix regia and belongsto the family leguminosae. It is fondly called the “flame of the forest” “the flame tree” and the “peacock flower”

For obvious reasons, I am not the first one to turn so lyrical at the sight of a flowering tree. For aeons, the gul mohar has inspired poetry, art and literature. The earliest mention of the gul mohar is in Vaishnava literature. Most of the medieval Indian poets talk of lovers meeting under the gul mohar tree and there are romantic interludes that seem to begin and end under the flowering gul mohar.

In more recent times, who can forget Sanjay Bhansali’s magnum opus ‘Devdas’ where the drink sodden Deva breathes his last while the gul mohar sheds its flowers on him? It was somehow a very befitting finale!

The prize-winning lyrics of a Tamil film song are all about the gul mohar and how romantic it can be. Ever read an interesting column called “Under the gul mohar”? Try it—interesting for its serendipity!

Besides romance and beauty, apparently the essence of the gul mohar is supposed to react beneficially on all those who have suffered sexual violence. I have nothing to prove this but the Aum Himalaya essences are promoting this through their Internet portal. They may have dredged up some ancient folklore and worked on it! After all the hills are still full of their many secrets!

But before I close, I want to make a fervent appeal— let us not chop down these beautiful trees in the name of development. In my childhood there used to be so many of these trees, along with the jamuns, the amaltas, the tesu, the bel and of course the majestic neems. But thanks to road widening and growth of the city, we are losing these beauties very fast.

Will we have only literature and art to watch? No more of the real thing?

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Shyamola Khanna

The first one in her orthodox Bong family to marry a Punju fighter pilot, Shyamola Khanna has never had a day’s regret, except for the fact that her dear husband of 36 years did not live to see the day her book came out. He would have been proud. From teaching kids in schools across the country, she made a tentative foray into writing lifestyle and soon acquired quite a professional level—she has been published in all the mainline newspapers and magazines. She continues to write for magazines and is now a volunteer teacher at the AOC centre and at the Denver School for the Blind where she helps kids with English.