The Marigold – symbol of the sun
With their vibrant range of orange hues, the marigold is seen as a representation of the sun. From Mumbai to Mysore, the flower is abundant throughout India. Commonly used in weddings, funerals, religious ceremonies and festivals, the marigold is a blossom familiar to every household.
Marigolds bring a positive energy to our surroundings, and we hope their presence within our restaurant conveys a very warm welcome to all who dine with us.
- Where did the Indian marigold originate?
Although very much associated with the Indian continent, the marigold in its present form was only introduced from Mexico a mere three hundred and fifty years ago.
The marigolds that were originally grown in India belonged to the calendula family. Mexican marigolds are part of the tagetes family and when this variety reached India, as part of the exchange between the Old and New Worlds, it’s sturdiness and ease of propagation ensured its rapid adoption for cultivation.
These impressive blooms containing essential oils and natural insect repellents appeared to help with all manner of ailments, as promoted by the Aztecs, and Ayurvedic medicine was quick to explore their apparent natural healing properties.
- What are the characteristics of the marigold flower?
With tall, sturdy stems and fernlike vibrant green foliage, the marigold reaches up to 100cm in height. With their varying tones of fiery red, burnished orange, warm gold and vibrant yellow, they have become one of India’s most auspicious flowers.
- Are marigolds edible?
As edible flowers, the candula variety has a somewhat peppery taste, with the dried flower offering a light fragrance of freshly cut grass. The tegetes variety, on the other hand, has an extremely mild bitter flavour, which restricted its use in culinary dishes to its vivid colour alone. This is often used as a much cheaper substitute for the somewhat prohibitive saffron. Marigolds are often fed to chickens, which results in the production of a sunnier yolk.
- Do marigolds attract or deter insects?
With wide-ranging colours, Marigolds are one of nature’s most attractive flowers, however, they contain a natural insect repelling oil allowing families and friends to come together outdoors without the constant worry of uninvited biting guests.
- How are marigolds used in Indian homes?
Meaning ‘gateway’ in Sanskrit, the torana has a deep spiritual significance. A garland made of mangoes and loose marigold heads is used as a torana in many Indian homes with its bold colour and pungent fragrance adorning thresholds and windows to protect while keeping tropical pests at bay. It is also used as an offering, adorning the necks of deities.
- Why is the marigold the Indian flower of remembrance?
Like the Flanders poppy, the cornflower of France or the German forget-me-not, the marigold is India’s official national flower of remembrance. Due to its wide availability and with its saffron hue viewed as the colour of sacrifice, it provides the perfect representation of those who have fallen in times of war and as a reminder of the valour displayed by an entire nation.
- Are marigolds a good choice for the garden?
Marigolds are relatively sturdy plants that stand up well to plentiful sun and lack of rain. Quick to germinate, they bloom within just a few months with flowerheads lasting from late spring to autumn. They attract a wide range of friendly insects such as butterflies and ladybirds that help keep pesty creatures at bay, which can also be beneficial if growing other fruits and vegetables nearby. Marigolds are hugely alluring to pollinators like bees, which help to secure its continent-wide abundance.
8. Can marigolds be grown successfully in the UK?
Horticulturalists have recently managed to create what some may have said was impossible – a hardy, rain-resistant Indian marigold that can now withstand the wettest of British weather.
Although marigolds can begin their summer as rays of sunshine, with one or two heavy showers, as is often the case during our warmer months, these once resplendent heads can quickly turn to mush.
With a denser array of petals and therefor a harder core, rainwater and dew run off the flower, which prevents rot from setting in, the aptly named kushi, or ‘happy’, marigolds can grow up to three feet in height and come in the traditional range of yellows, oranges and golds.
In conclusion – Marigolds and so much more
The marigold is so much more than a flower. With spiritual and sensual properties, and its place within centuries-old traditions, who could help but be captivated by this magnificent bloom.
Like the marigold, at Namaste, a warm and sunny welcome awaits.