Flowers and Scents



Nothing distinguishes a “haveli” more than the sweet scents of flowers, perfumes and freshly cooked food ! 
Its one of the first things most people notice when they visit a haveli.



Sweet scented flowers calm the mind and cool the body.  For this reason, only sweet scented flowers are used in Pushti Marg haveli.  These include – Jasmin, sugandhi-gulab (scented rose), chameli, jui, kevdo, mogro, sukhad, bakul, kadamba, lotus.


Flowers that are showy, but have bitter scent are not used.  Hence flowers like the marigold are never used in the haveli.


In Pushti Marg, the svroop are usually small.  Hence the garlands that are offered to them are designed to be particularly thin and delicate enough to look "in proportion" to the icon.  For this reason, even rose petals are folded to quarter of their size so as to produce a uniform, thin line. 


Garland in Pushti Marg are typically made of a singular colour – eg white or yellow and set with 3, 5 or 7 colourful segments in-between.  This creates a very pleasing effect, similar to necklaces of white pearls set with colourful gems.  Foot long needles are used to help “design” the garland - allowing the vaishnavs to make sure the flowers and leaves are symmetrical before being "added" to the thread.  This way the vaishnav have a good idea of how the colours will look in the garland and changes can be made easily. 


One of the flowers most associated with Pushti Samprady is the lotus.  Lotus is used to make garlands as well as being carried in the crook of the arm of the Thakorji during the Rajbhog darshan.  Lotus is also used to decorate palanas as well as hindolas.  During the summer months, lotus are often floated in the pools and troughs to recreate the bhav of Yamunaji in the inner sanctum. 


During the summer months, much of India becomes unbearably HOT !  To keep cool, Thakorji is often offered “clothes” made of flowers !  Buds of chameli, jai, jui, jasmine and mogra are used to create delicate lacy clothes to wear on the hottest days of the year.  Nights are made fragrant by spreading the bed with flower petals and muslin bedcovers overlaid with a coverlet made entirely of flowers.




Sandal wood paste is used during the hot months to cool the lord.  To enhance its colour, saffron is added in just the right amounts to create a lovely orange colour.  Balls of sandal wood paste are strung with pearls and shell to create a unique set of summer jewellery. 


Saffron and sandal wood paste are dissolved in water and this is used to “print” clothes, pichois and soft furnishings for the summer.  These are very delicate materials and a single drop of water, perspiration or perfume smudges the design.  Hence in a haveli, these have to be replaced on a daily basis.




Flower vases and lush plants are often depicted in pichois and frescos painted on the walls of havelis.  But, apart from Vasant-kalash offered during the spring festival of Vasant Panchami, actual vases are rarely used in the inner sanctum.  During Vasant Panchami, vases are filled with branches of different trees to announce the arrival of spring.


Banana (plantain) plant is used in its entirety to decorate the walls and pillars – creating a surrogate garden / kunj or forest in the haveli.  Branches of various plants are also used to add to the forest effect.  During Kunj Ekadashi, plants, plantain and flowers are used to create a grove in the inner sanctum itself.  This is liberally sprinkled with abil and gulal to mark the spring festival.  Similar pseudo kunja is created during special occasions like hindola.


Supple branches of green shrubs are used to decorate lalan’s palana and hindola of the Lord.  This is often embellished with flowers or garlands  

In case of hindolas, leaves are sometimes trimmed to create a tapered look of cypress / ashok trees.


Ashoka leaves, with their wavy edges, are regularly used to decorate the doorways of the haveli as torans. 



Attars – are used in addition to fresh flowers for seva of the Lord.  Attar is applied to the person of the Thakorji and often the shri-anga is massaged with scented oils before and after the bath.&nbsAttar is applied in just the right amount so as not to be too over-powering for the baby / toddler / child / adolescent svaroops of the Thakorji.  All the soft furnishings are liberally sprinkled with attar to make sure the inner sanctum is a sweet, pleasant place for the Lord to dwell in.  Attar is also poured on to the Sudarshan Chakra on the roof of the haveli. 


Havelis use a lot of perfumes extracted from scented flowers.d flowers.  Usually these are in keeping with the seasons – so jasmine is used in the summer, kevdo during monsoon and musk during the winter.  Each scent is associated with specific moods, bhavas and sometimes bhaktas.  As with aromatherapy, these scents have health and mood enhancing benefits too.


Here is a list of some of the Attars I have used


Attar / scent / perfume




Kesar / Saffron

Winter / cold seasons

Strong orange colour


Musk / Kasturi

Winter / cold seasons

Dark black

Indian musk, very strong - overpowering scent - use sparingly



Winter / cold seasons

Dark brown

Strong scent, can be used to alleviate colds. But, if used excessively, it can cause nose bleeds!

Chameli / Jasmin

Most seasons

Light yellow

Flowery scent


All seasons

Pale yellowale yellow

Very light scent


Most seasons

Nearly clear

Flowery scent


Most seasons

Bright yellow

Strong flowery scent



Light green

Strong sweet scent



Yellow / Brown

 Sweet, summery scent

Gulab / Rose



Popular, sweet, flowery scent

Chandan / Sukhad / Sandal Wood


Light brown oil

 Cool, soothing scent



Emerald Green

Sweet, syrupy scent




Scent of green, unripe mango








 Bhagwat Shah ©

Pushti Marg

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