--> Skip to main content

Mallika - Jasmine Flower In Hinduism

Mallika, jasmine flower (chameli - mulla or malligai), several species of which are native to India, is a fragrant flower and is used in the worship of gods and goddesses in Hinduism. Garlands made of jasmine flowers are offered to deities in temples and also in Hindu homes as part of daily worship. After the deities are garlanded, devotees visiting the temples are given these flowers as prasada (offering) by Hindu temple priests.

According to Hindu scriptures, the jasmine is considered to be one of the five arrows of Manmatha, the God of love, which he shoots from his bow made of sugarcane, the other four being lotus, ashoka flower, mango flower and blue lotus.

Many renowned Sanskrit poets and dramatists have praised the flower in their works. Kalidasa mentioned the flower in his poem Raghuvamsha, in which he describes the newly blossomed, sweet smelling jasmine. Dandin has also mentioned this flower in his Sanskrit Kavyadarsha.

The practice of Hindu women decorating their hair with strands of jasmine flowers, seen in the present day, was in vogue even in ancient India, as attested by Raghuvamsha, in which Kalidasa describes this custom. 

Jasmine Flower In South Indian Temples

Saints like Perialvar (one of the twelve Vaishnava saints of Tamil Nadu) and music composers like Tyagaraja and Muthuswami Dikshitar have listed the jasmine flower among many other flowers with which the deities could be worshipped.

The Mallika shrub is considered to be sacred plant in several temples in Tamil Nadu, such as Navanidhishvarar (Shiva) temple in Tiruchikkal (Nagapattinam District) and the Arambeswarar (Shiva) temple in Ilambaiyankottur (Tiruvallur District). According to the temple legend (Sthala Purana) connected with the Navanidishvarar Temple in Tiruchikkal, this place was once known as Malligavanam (forest of mallika flowers).

This climbing shrub is associated with many Shiva temples in Tamil Nadu and has lent its name to the deity as well as the place, like the Masilamanishvarar Temple in Tirumullaivayil (near Chennai) and the Mullaivananadhar temple at Tirumullaivayil (Nagapattinam District).

According to the temple lore (sthala purana) of the Madhavivaneshvarar temple at Tirukarugavur (Thanjavur District), this holy place was called mullai vanam, where the sages Gautama and Gargeya performed penance.

In traditional south Indian weddings, the married women are welcomed by presenting them with strands of jasmine flowers along with kumkum and sandal paste at the entrance of the marriage hall.