The momentary scent evoked by the touch of rain on warm earth lingers only for a few seconds.
It comes bearing memories
of all the monsoons that came before it, descending upon men
Leaving parched hearts yearning for it
A desire to reach out to its source,
to experience rain at any given moment.
A primal desire to go back in time,
to shape and change the unchangeable.
Desire always sets the wheels in motion
With time and energy dedicated, was mastered a craft
of capturing scents ephemeral in nature - to transfer
from a withering flower its ethereal quality to a bottle.
The elements - earth, fire and water were invoked and cajoled to achieve
this recreation of a momentary redolence
Lasting fragrances from fleeting objects of nature
In this search for rain’s scent
flowers, grass, trees, plants and
metals were all scouted At some point, no one knows when,
it dawned upon the seekers who had their necks craned up,
to look below
to the ground that lay beneath.
From the brown-red mud, to which
the rains return time and again, were extracted
the remnants of a thousand monsoons.
Fresh as this morning’s dew.
The perfume when inhaled
allows the patron to traverse space and time,
to locate himself at a different place
from years ago.
To remember, and revel in
the glimpses of his past. To reach out to those moments
that no longer arrive in dreams.
To seek refuge in the only sanctum, nostalgia
An ode to the ittarwallahs of Kannauj, Uttar Pradesh, alchemical men who have mastered the ethereal craft of extracting from mud, the scent of rain.
Deriving its name from the Arabic word for perfume, ittar making is an ancient practice of perfumery that uses botanical sources to recreate the fragrances from nature.
In March of 2014, I joined Rosenda for a week-long retreat at beautiful Swaswara in Gokarna...
Narrative • South India
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