Madurai Malli

Madurai Malli has strong fragrance than the other jasmines. The fragrance of the jasmine grown in this geographical area is somewhat superior to that of others because of the heavy accumulation of the smell causing alkaloids ‘Jamone’ and ‘Alpha Terpineol’. The laterite and red soils of this geographical area are rich in Sulphur which is the precursor of these alkaloids. More over presence of higher amounts of Potassium and the supplementary foliar spraying of Borax (Boric acid contains elements Boron) help the plant to deposit the produced alkaloids in flowers. This is the main reason for the high fragrance of Madurai Malli.

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Jasmine (Mullai) buds
Jasmine (Mullai) buds


Uniqueness of Madurai Malli lies in the following aspects: Even though jasmine has been cultivated in Southern Asia, jasmine cultivated in the specified geographical area has some specialties. That’s why it is called Madurai Malli.

Stiff and long petals help in easy garlanding

The second specialty is the thickness of the petals. This thick nature of   the flower gives it to some stiffness which helps more in garlanding the flower as we wish.

· Madurai Malli has thick petals helps in postponing anthesis. Normally all jasmine flowers (Malligai) grown in other parts open before or around 5 pm. But Madurai Malli opens only after 6 pm. Sometimes even after 7 pm. This is due to the thick petals of Madurai Malli
· Madurai Malli has long keeping quality

We can preserve Madurai Malli for two days under cool condition without discolouration which is impossible with the other jasmines.

Utilisation of Jasmine from Sangam Age

The moment we think of Madurai two things strike imrnediately. The first is Lord Meenakshi ,{mman Temple and the second is jasmine flower popularly called ,Madurai Malli,, Jasmine llovver cultivation as well as utilising it for adorning Deities, wearing by ladies and for other social ceremotlies are always associated with the people of Madurai from time immemorial. Presence and utilisation of Jasmine flower in Madurai is mentioned in sangam literature dates bacl: to 200 BC – 300 AD.


The botanical name of Madurai Malli is Jasminum sambac. It is commonly known as Arabic jasmine. In Tamil its common name is ‘Gundu Malli’. Madurai Malli is a traditional jasmine flower (Malligai) comprises the local varieties and cultivars of Jasminum sambac in Madurai, Virudhunagar, Theni, Dindigul and Sivagangai districts. Madurai Malli yields approximately from 1237 g to 1786 g annually per bush. A Madurai Malli bush can be maintained economically up to 15 years from the planting. But there are farmers in exceptional cases, are maintaining the bushes beyond 20 years yielding profitably. The term Madurai Malli is denoting all the varieties/cultivars of jasmine flowers (Malligai) growing in the specified geographical area of Madurai, Virudhunagar, Theni, Dindigul and Sivagangai districts. Hence, various names of Madurai Malli are Gundu Malli, Namma Ooru Malli, Ambu Malli, Ramabanam, Madhanabanam, Iruvatchi, Iruvatchippoo, Kasthuri Malli, Oosi Malli and Single Mogra. The term ‘Variety’ or ‘Cultivar’ is defined as a taxonomic classification below the species having same genotype but different phenotype. Different floral structures of the local varieties of Madurai Malli are listed below. Gundu Malli/Namma Ooru Malli Gundu Malli flowers are round with good fragrance.

‘Paripaadal’ is an anthology of poems of Sangam age (fifth Century BC) describing Madurai and its people. Two lines viz., line number 105 of Chapter 11 and line number 77 in Chapter 12 are describing the existence of Madurai Malli (Malligai) and decoration of young girls using them.

· ‘Madurai Kanchi’ is another anthology of poems written by sangam age poet ‘Maangudi Marudhanaar’ praising the famous Pandiya King ‘Thalayaalanganthucheruvendra Pandiyan Nedunchezhiyan’. At the end of the anthology there are two individual poems praising Tamil language. The second poem compares Tamil language in the anthology with Madurai Malli (Malligai) as ‘The honeyed Jasmine garlands are eternal treat to our eyes just as the Tamil of Madurai Kanchi soothes the eager listeners’ ears’.

· Silappathikaaram is the first epic of Tamil written during post sangam  age during the period of first century AD. In Silappathikaaram, the hero  Kovalan was shifting his family from his native place (Poompuhaar) to  Madurai town. He was guided by some folk singers called ‘Paanars’.  During the journey Kovalan enquired the Paanars about the distance to  be travelled to Madurai town. The folk singers described Madurai and its  all features. The Paanars replied, “While approaching Madurai town, we  can feel a cool breeze carrying the mixed fragrances of jasmine, sandal,  and other natural perfumes viz., Akhil, saffron, Punuku, etc. Now we are  feeling fragrant breeze, which is indicative that we are nearing Madurai”.

· Soodaamani Nigandu is a medical literature of post Sangam era,  explaining the medicinal values of flowers and parts of trees. This  literature is mentioning about Madurai Malli (Malligai) and its other  names such as ‘Malathi’, ‘Adhangam’ and ‘Poorundi’. Soodaamani  Nigandu says that the wild ‘Malligai’ grown as bush is referred as  ‘Mauval’ and those found in creepers are called as ”Visaligai”.

· Kurinchippattu is a famous anthology of poems of Sangam age, coming under the classification of ‘Subjective (Akam)’ literature. The term ‘Subjective’ refer to the personal or human aspect of emotions that cannot be verbalized adequately or explained fully. It can only be experienced by the individuals and includes love and sexual relationship. In Kurinchippattu, the Lines from 61-96 have described a total of 99 flowers with their structure, texture, lusture, time of anthesis and other relevant flower related information. In this poem Madurai Malli (Malligai) is denoted by its alternative names ‘Pithikam and Mowal’.

Knitting designs of Madurai Malli:

‘Madurai Malli’ is a typical name also giving stress to the different types and  fashions of garlanding Jasmine. Even though jasmine is cultivated and  garlanded in various districts of Tamil Nadu, ‘Madurai Malli’ becomes the  famous and branded one. This famous is related with the uniqueness of  garlanding style. We cannot see this unique style of flower garlanding in any other districts of Tamil Nadu or any other state in India also. Hence, it is very  suitable to call Malli as Madurai Malli with its brand name. This speciality  denotes that the flower garlanding technique adopted in Madurai only.

We can observe six types of flower garlanding types. They are 

1. Uruttu Kattu – In this type Malligai flowers are garlanded like a spring. This is very unique and famous in Madurai. 

2. Pattai Kattu – In this type the flowers are garlanded like a strip of metal. 

3. Normal tying – This is very common in Madurai. Many slum ladies are garlanding this type only. 

4. Kadhambam – Mixing of other flowers with Jasmine is known as Kadhambam. 

5. Malai – This is normal type of garlanding wearing around the neck 

6. Thirumbippaar – In this type Malligai flowers are garlanded with other bright coloured artificial flowers.

Knitting Designs