Being a literature student, I have always been obsessed with mythological legends and stories concocted with history, culture, and art. For someone who is easily intrigued by stories, romanticism in mythology comes as a magical escape from the monotony of life for me.
I came across the beautifully heart-breaking story of the Parijat tree or the Queen of the Night a few months ago and it has stayed with me ever since. Before beginning the story, let’s have a look at some interesting facts about the flower!
Night Blooming Jasmine, the Lady of the Night (Cestrum nocturnum) belongs to the nightshade (Solanaceae) family of Jessamine plants. The plant is a mesmerizing clump of white and yellow flowers that only bloom at night when the world is asleep. The intoxicating fragrance of the flowers is very well described by the poet Thomas Moore who said, “From plants that wake when others sleep, from timid jasmine buds that keep their odour to themselves all day, but when the sunlight dies away, let the secret out to every breeze that roams about.”
The sweet fragrance and colorful flowers aren’t the only things that make this plant special. Not only has it proven to be beneficial for convulsions, night sweats, seizure disorders, headaches, skin eruptions, cataract, and malaria, its extracts are also used as an antispasmodic for various treatments. It also has religious importance to places like Kathmandu as its flowers are presented as offerings to Lord Shiva and Lord Ganesh.
There’s a whole list of stories and Indian legends that have been curated around the Lady of the Night. This particular story dates back to the great war of Kurukshetra, explaining why it has some references in the Mahabharata.
Once upon a time (yes, I’m going to start with a typical ancient tale phrase, bear with me) there was a princess named Parijat, The Ornament of the Gods. Parijat, also known by the name, Harsingar, was one of the most beautiful princesses in the world who fell in love with Surya Deva, The Sun God. She would spend all her days and nights worshiping him and expressing her love for him through vows, songs, and poems. The Sun loved her back and wholeheartedly admired her devotion. The air was surrounded by the fragrance of a blooming love story.
Years passed and she continued to chant the verses of her love until one day, she decided to confront The Sun. With immense faith in herself, she conveyed her love for him, oblivious to what fate had planned out for her. The Sun couldn’t accept her love as he feared that he would burn her. She pleaded with him, explaining that the power of her devotion and affection could defy the laws of the Universe, that they could be together for eternity, that she didn’t fear getting burnt if it meant she got to be with him. She fought for him, but he loved her too much to see her perish away because of him.
Parijat couldn’t bear the pain of dejection after years of weaving the threads of her fragile heart around her love for The Sun. The misery of her unrequited love left her broken and shattered her spirit in every way possible. Her love for The Sun was pure and eternal and she decided that if she couldn’t be with him, she wouldn’t be with anyone else.
She burnt herself that summer night, and from her ashes rose a tree with the purest white flowers, yellow at their core as a symbol of the fact that The Sun would always remain in her heart. It is believed that her reincarnation was a blessing from the Surya Deva to respect her love for him.
The princess lives within the Night-blooming Jasmine. Within her lives her love, The Sun. The flowers of the tree bloom every night in the darkness as they have been kissed by The Sun, producing a fragrance to express her love towards Surya Deva. However, as soon as the first rays of dawn & sunshine touch the tree, the flowers wither as the princess remembers her pain and misery.
Through the night, the flowers celebrate and cherish Parijat’s love, hoping that someday, The Sun might accept it. Every morning they die, weeping the loss of her brokenness. They shed tears of pain spreading their sweet fragrance, expressing her lingering love for the Sun even after death. The legend says that the flowers of the Parijat tree were one of the sacred treasures among the five divine trees that came out from the milking of the Universe. The power of the love that princess Parijat had for The Sun was so strong that even after millions of years, it resides inside the heart of every Parijat tree.
Indeed, love knows no endings.