Purple Bloom

purple bauhunia

Briefly: April-May is the season when purple bauhunia flowers

In Hindi it is called Kachnar. Remember the song Kachchi Kali Kachnar Ki, Kya Samjhege Baatein Pyar Ki (Hungama 1971). In Marathi it’s called Rakta Chandan (What an evocative name?), in Bangla its named Koiral and in Kannada Devakanchan (God’s Gold). In English it is called by different names, like Butterfly tree, Pink Butterfly Tree, Purple Bauhinia, Purple Butterfly tree, Hong Kong Orchid Tree, Purple Camel’s Foot, Hawaiian Orchid Tree and Purple Orchid Tree. How does the same flower get different names in different languages and region? Was naming it the work of a peasant, a housewife or a poet with his vivid imagination? My guess: poet. Interestingly, within a region it holds a common name. April-May is the season of Purple Bauhunia and you’re likely to come across it with its blooming purple, pink, and lavender petals flowering at roadsides, in parks and in gardens. Arranged closely to resemble an orchid, its heady perfume fills the nostrils as you move close to the trees. In our rush to become ‘techlings’, surrounded as we are by mobile phones, headsets, wi-fi environment etc., we have forgotten to enjoy nature,  though we are earthlings.

My friend Shashank tells my why its is Rakta Chandan in Marathi.” Its very cooling and while the dried stem is rubbed on a stone the colour is of  red sandalwood.”


One thought on “Purple Bloom

  1. Vineel

    #1 “How does the same flower get different names in different languages and region?”
    Very intriguing question, indeed ! (and how so many languages would have evolved ? is another…)
    It is interesting to note the way of thinking that reflects in the common names. an example is the “Cannon ball tree” (Couroupita guianensis) in English describes its large spherical fruits while the Indian common name “Kailaspatee” or “Naglinga” comes from the description of the flowers (interestingly, the female part of the flower is in the shape of a “Pindee” and the male flower part in the shape of a cobra over it !). The Britishers equated the fruits with the cannon balls while the Indian saw the shiva lingam and the cobra in it hence giving it a status of a holy tree.

    #2 I am wondering what the bangla common name “koiral” means? and how does it relate to the surname “koirala” of the royal family of nepal?

    #3 “Was naming it the work of a peasant, a housewife or a poet…”
    Your writing is sprinkled with some thought provoking leads such as this…this is one of feature that makes it even more interesting to read on…thanks !
    well, your guess about this as the poet being “the one” seems right, at least for the common names. if not poet, that person must be someone who acknowledges the existence and beauty of plants.

    #4 The genus Bauhinia has been named after the Bauhin brothers (Gaspard Bauhin and Johann Bauhin) in reverence to their contributions to botany and taxonomy which date back as early as the mid sixteenth century.

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