Raat ki Rani

April 29, 2009


raat ki rani

My favorite Indian flower is raat ki rani: queen of the night. Its scientific name is Cestrum Nocturnum.

Its flowers, small and white, open up only at night, and only for a few weeks – at the beginning and the end of summer.

Its smell is unlike anything else. Heady but subtle, fresh but sensual, feminine, exotic, mysterious, intoxicating.

If you ever walk by a bush of raat ki rani, you stop in your tracks. A bit like in the Axe ads. It smells like jasmine, but with something else. Or, should I say, something less. It’s lighter, sweeter, more delicate. It’s deadlier too.

There was one outside the first place I lived in, here in Jaipur. Then I moved, and just like I missed being woken up by peacocks, I missed the heady scent of raat ki rani. Until I moved into this new flat. My building looks rather dull – a new construction in typical Indian tastelessness. But outside, creeping over the wall from the neighbour’s lush garden, is a bush of raat ki rani

My friend Ruby, lovely blonde African girl, put some in my hair when she and her mum stayed with me. And my auto-rickshaw, knowing I love it, is adamant he will get me pots and pots of raat ki rani for my balcony.

Then truly, my evenings would be pure bliss: sunset on Moti Dungri and the scent of raat ki rani.


11 Responses to “Raat ki Rani”

  1. Sunny Side Says:

    I wonder it’s what we call “seringa” ! I am just “cuckoo” with this flowers. Only gypsies sell it on market place ! I steel it in a public garden when I don’t find it. It’s right now the time to do it ! And if one day if I commit marriage, only when it’s time of “seringa” !!! Blessed you are to have it on your balcony …

  2. Bombay Magic Says:

    Ok, awaken by peacocks, tantalised by sensual and mysterious smells … Please stop being so cruel and think there are people in India who wake up to the sound of the trucks braking too hard, who smell … actually they smell nothing because their olfactory glands are saturated with pollution.

  3. Iris Says:

    will you bring me some seeds next week? 🙂

  4. YVR Says:

    c’est des “belles de nuit” non? C’est vrai qu’elles sentent delicieusement bon. Ma grand mere en avait dans son jardin. Souvenir de mon enfance tout ca. Tiens, je me demande si je pourrais les faire pousser ici… mmm

  5. jasmineandtheelephants Says:

    @ Sunny Side: I’ll check…

    @ Bombay Magic: oh but don’t worry most of the days I wake up to the music of construction work and papaya seller! The days of peacocks have gone but I am working on it – they’ll be back soon!

    @ Iris: Yes my dear

    @ YVR: en tout cas le nom ressemble!

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  7. […] the queen-of-the-night bush at the gate. With its tiny white flowers and heavenly smell, it is, indeed, just too lovely. […]

  8. poonam Says:

    Where can I buy the plan in US in California
    any idea ..I want to plan it in my home.

  9. sal Says:

    i think you get it in US by the name of night blooming jasmine, I am trying it out this summer,hoping its that. The plant is growing beautifully ,waiting with bated breath for the flowers!!!

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