Growing champa in my farm
Champa was not the flower I came across growing up in Air Force cantonments spread all over the country. It was either rose, gainda (marigold) or rajnigandha (tube rose). My father being a ground engineer with the Indian Air Force we lived in cantonments in Ambala, Hindon (Ghaziabad), Kanpur, Jullundhur, Tambaram and others. These are not places you come across Champa and if you did come across you didn’t recognize it because you have not been introduced to it.
I was introduced to it by my wife while we were shopping for flowers in Dadar. The honey-coloured flower was neatly placed–just a dozen of them—along with others, from stark white to blazing majenta awaiting to be picked up by those frequenters buying them to present to their favourite deities at home.
“That’s chaapha,” my wife said saying it the way Marathis call it.
We picked up four of them paying a dear price which could fetch us two cups of coffee. Just I took one and was bringing it close to my nostril to smell it my wife berated me, “Not before you have placed them in front of the deity’s picture.”
Few hours later having done the ritual I brought my nose close to champa…and I have never forgotten the fragrance I savoured that day.
When we bought a plot to set up a farm the first thing I did was to plant a champa sapling.
A year later, the sapling has risen till my knee and yesterday it had two flowers. Which I brought home and placed them at the designated place. And soon the entire room was enveloped by the sweet fragrance of champa.