‘Jasmine Ladies’ of Veeranagere

Nobody likes individual jasmine flowers unless it’s for puja rituals. But it is a woman’s desire to wear jasmine when they are stringed as it adds richness and beauty to their long and shiny manes, especially when in traditional attires.

There is a set of dedicated women at Veeranagere who dexterously string jasmine and so perfect are they in their occupation that they can continuously string jasmines without even looking at their hands. For many of them, making jasmine strings is a profession and they efficiently supplement their family income.

Most of these women do this job daily after their husbands and children leave homes. They assemble at one particular place like streets, empty spaces in front of shops, vacant building porticos or temple complexes. Their activity goes on from morning till evening and they get flowers from merchants at Devaraja Market.

But their lives are not a bed of jasmine. They need to struggle all day and be quick in stringing the flowers to make a maximum number of strings.

Mangalagowri, a resident of Veeranagere, has been into this job since 30 years. “My husband Nanjundanayaka assists me and it is a family profession. We also sell flowers by the side of Ashoka Road at Veeranagere. Mostly I make garlands and sell them to Devaraja Market. It is not an easy job. You need concentration and you must take care of your fingers. Any small wound and the whole job goes for a toss,” she says.

The tradition of stringing flowers at Veeranagere started during the time of Maharajas as the area was full of Mysooru Mallige plantations. “Now there are cotton threads. Those days, strings were made using the fibre-like material obtained from banana stem, says Nanjundanayaka.

Another resident of this place, Gayathri has been into this business since years. “An experienced hand can string up to 4-kg of jasmine from 10 am to 11 pm. Stringing a kg of jasmine and other flowers can fetch about Rs.30 while a kg of Kanakambara variety fetches Rs.60,” she says. — PM&BCT

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