Ittar Story_Cover1

A story of ittar, as told by the rain 

North India

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
before disappearing.

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
as perfume.

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.

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