I am not satiated with the drinking of the nectar of the Glories of the Devi; my desire to hear further is as strong as ever. As the drink of the nectar takes away death, so the drink of this tale of Bhramari Devi takes away the fear of death.
Srimad Devi Bagavatam
INDIA HONEYSUCKLE ATTAR
India honeysuckle traditionally distilled and infused in Sandalwood Oil
Provenance: State of Bengal, Eastern India
The Sanskrit word for honey is Madhu and the word for jasmine is Malati; it is the combination of these two words that make up the word for honeysuckle in Sanskrit: Madhumalati, which translates into ‘Honey Jasmine. It is no surprise that this name was so chosen as images of honey and jasmine do come to mind when one inhales the sweet, warm and heady fragrance of this remarkable flower, the honeysuckle. Honeysuckle is not only revered for its fragrance, its role in Hindu spirituality and puja (daily worship), but also its medicinal qualities and beauty throughout India.
Honeysuckle is a climbing vine native to tropical Southeast Asia. Some species are also found in Europe as well as eastern North America. It is often said that the warmer and the more humid the region is, the sweeter the fragrance of the honeysuckle flowers would be. Extreme humidity and a slightly alkaline soil are also said to produce the healthiest flowers. It is probably for these reasons why honeysuckle flowers from the hot and humid region of Bengal in eastern India are so highly sought after. It is from this region of India that our Honeysuckle Attar is handmade in the time honored traditional Deg (copper vessel) method – the way it has been for centuries.
Honeysuckle Attar is one of the more difficult attars to prepare as the flowers are exceptionally delicate and great care must be exercised to maintain proper simmering temperature and pressure so that the delicate petals suspended in water would not burn. Since the entire process is done by hand and no mechanical gauges are employed, a long and thorough experience in traditional oil-making is required to accurately control the pressure and heat of the fire. Honeysuckle flowers are floated into water in large copper vessels called degs, sealed with a clay lid and simmered over a wood fire for a set amount of time. Aromatic vapours rise and pass through hollow bamboo and travel into another clay sealed deg filled with pure sandalwood oil. Over time the vapours get thoroughly infused into the sandalwood resulting in a rich and exquisite aromatic oil.
In India, honeysuckle is a symbol of generosity and kindness. In Hindu mythology and iconography, honeysuckle flowers have an important significance as they are associated with two important Hindu deities: Krishna, who is often known as “borne of honey” and more importantly Bhramari Devi, the Hindu bee goddess – a manifestation of Goddess Durga. Bhramari is the personification of the honeysuckle flower and is known to be a generous and beautiful goddess. Her radiant skin is the colour of honey and her flowing black hair fragrant of jasmine. Since Bhramari personifies the essence and properties of a fragrant flower, she attracts and controls all bees – bees being a symbol intrinsically linked to energy and energy points or chakras. Honeysuckle Attar, therefore, is highly revered throughout India and is often worn or burnt in aromatherapy lamps to ward off negativity and bring clarity, peace and a sense of security. The attar must be used in very minute amounts on the skin because of its concentration.
In tantric doctrine, each chakra emits a different sound in meditation (e.g. the first chakra house emits a hum like the bumblebee). It is believed that the fourth chakra house, the heart chakra, when activated helps build the antibodies to protect us from disease. According to yogic beliefs, it is in this chakra house where Bhramari Devi resides and protects us from external attacks of negativities like physical and social diseases. Honeysuckle Attar therefore promotes the energies of the first chakra house as well as the fourth chakra house.
Located at the base of the spine, the first chakra (Root Chakra) forms our foundation. It represents the element earth, and is therefore related to our survival instincts, and to our sense of grounding and connection to our bodies and the physical plane. When balanced, this chakra brings us health, prosperity, security, and dynamic presence.
The fourth chakra (Heart Chakra) is related to love and is the integrator of opposites in the psyche: mind and body, male and female, persona and shadow, ego and unity. A healthy heart chakra allows us to love deeply, feel compassion, and have a deep sense of peace and centeredness.