Thursday, May 20, 2010

Kacchi Kali Kachnaar Ki

Kachnar Tree ((Bauhinia variegate) with Pink Blossoms                                Kachnar Tree ((Bauhinia variegate) with Pink Blossoms

This particular tree could be yet another associated with my childhood memories.i am just guessing though because locally in Arrah, a district of Bihar where my father was posted then, it was called Agastya and pronounced more like Agast. i was then a baby maybe 3-4 years old and although my memories are fragmented yet they make me very happy today.It is the memory of unpolluted, spacious and country like surroundings with fields, beautiful fragrant trees and cows which produced enough milk not only to feed the family but also to massage us with. Ma used to massage us with the froth of the freshly squeezed milk and later wipe us with a soft gamcha (a soft towel used in Bihar for wiping the body).i still remember how we detested that smell and the procedure and how we would bawl and rebel to get out of her grip wincing and flailing simultaneously to slip free.
Ma and Papa were different then in their appearance naturally as they were so young.Ma wore sedhe palle ki saree (Saree worn the Gujrati style where the open end covers the front) which would be bright and colourful and lots of glass bangles the sounds and colours of which fascinated me enough to want to wear them myself.Ma told me much later how i would refuse to sleep and want to play with her bangles instead while she tried hard with her stories and lullabyes to get me to sleep.
Papa was skinny, fair and dark haired and brought us toys from wherever he went on tours.We were just two kids then.My elder brother and me. So we had plenty of attention and affection of our parents and we were happy but pampered kids.Pampered by parents and all the helpers including the peon, cook, driver and all those who would come to work in the fields.Pampered wherever we went be it the shops or even the single cinema theatre in town.We were the priceless kids of the HAKIM Saheb and MEM saheb.And anyone who visited us would applaud the two of us driving our baby cars which moved as we pedalled like we were budding formula one champions.Big brother in his blue one and me in my red one.
i get flashes of the huge bungalow the kind which housed the Britishers earlier with very high ceilings and wooden Jalousie/louvered windows. But more than that the vision of the huge campus which had this tree along with the rest of the cultivable area where everything from grains to vegetables were grown, often crosses the mind's eye.

This particular memory of the flowers of this tree makes me impatient to speak about the delicious pakoras (fritters or crispies) that were made with these flowers.i know how eager we would be not so much for the pakoras but the paraphernalia involving the preparation of the special meal which would also have these pakoras for lunch along with other things.

Someone would be called from the fields or if they were busy the cook or driver would happily oblige with the picking of these flowers.Someone would prop the ladder and few others would hold us not by force but more by cajoling as we jostled to have a go on the ladder.While someone would hold the ladder stable as the other would climb with a basket to pick the flowers.This simple task of the flower picking would keep us stay put and enthralled when otherwise we would be squabbling over the same toy or perhaps giving Ma a hard time as she monitored our mischiefs into sobriety.

The Edible Pink Bud of Kachnar Tree  

The pinkish red flower of kachnar       " Agast ke phool ka bachka kahiyega baua ji", (Little one would you like to eat Agast flower crispies?) the cook would ask us lovingly and till it was stuffed into our mouths mixed with the dal chawal (cooked rice and lentils) we would not relent. Later we would follow the driver to the neighbours where the rest of the picked flowers were distributed.

The White Blossom a variety of Kachnar Tree known as Buddhist Bauhinia( Bauhinia variegata var.

Now i know that it is known commonly as Kachnaar or else as Pink Butterfly tree and Purple Orchid tree but the one i am eager to see up and close is the ONE of my childhood the white one which i suppose is known as Bahaunia variegata. This one does not have narrow petals like the purple ones instead the petals are broader and never open fully flat.My memory confirms that they kind of overlap and they are white with traces of pink and even traces of  pale yellow.

i have this craving to eat Agast ke phool ka bachka and i am alert.Although i am not sure if i would be lucky enough to see it what to talk of finding enough to eat yet i wait because i know that when you want something very badly something pushes you towards it.
It is not surprising that like the so many others this tree is valued enormously not only for it's beauty and delicate fragrance but also for it's medicinal properties.Starting with the leaves to the bark and finally the seeds which are used to make medicines for ailments like ulcers,leprosy,dysentry and even haemorroids.

Kachnar seed pods-2

This time when i speak to my father i have to ask him that when he sang this popular film song while i sat in his lap and shook as he would try to play imaginary tabla with both his hands, did he know that Agast was that Kachnaar. i can hear him sing distinctly,".Kacchi kali kachnaar ki...kach...kach...kach...kach...kachi kali kachnar ki...." as i delve into that tree, below which i sat sometimes with my dolls and played house house and that even as a baby wanted to climb and sit on it's branch with my cherubic cheeks close to the flowers to get the fragrance and later to pick one or two for Ma's pooja.
The White Kachnar

Can't memorise all but nice to know the names in different languages as i try to remember,' Kacchi Kali Kachnaar ki...kach...kach...kach...kach...Kacchi kali Kachnaar ki...hai kya samjhegi batein pyaar ki...kya samjhegi batein pyaar ki...Kacchi Kali Kachnaar ki....'

Tamil-Nilatthiruvatti/Shemmandarai, Telgu-Bodanta, Malayalam-Chovanna Mandaru/ Suvannamandaram,
 Kannada-Devakanchan/Arisinatige, Oriya-Borodo, Bengal-Koiral/Rakta Kanchana, Marathi-Rakta Chanda, Gujrati-Kovindara, Sanskrit-Devkanchan, Hindi-Kachnaar...or as Bauhinia is also the National flower of Hong Kong .
There are many varieties of Bauhunia which has been aptly called as 'eye candy' on:

And now for the song that papa used to sing:

Image courtesy:


  1. yajnaseni (class6)May 20, 2010 at 9:17 PM

    mausi, your description was awesome...a beautiful childhood memory ...
    even i wanna eat `agast ke phool kachnaar ka bachka!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. darling, your blog on kachnar was v.informative and it became more interesting with the vivid description of ur childhood memories.keep up ur new avatar!!!!!!!!!!!111

  3. @Yajnaseni Sweetie pie sure and i guess we can together put forward our pleas to ur Dad who i am sure can arrange some flowers and we can have the bachkas.Thanks Sweetie pie for being the first to comment and Hugs for reading it :)

  4. @Gauri Thanks sis for reading it and finding it informative...i only hope Agast and Kachnar are the same.Yeah the fragmented memories are few but vivid happy ones.:)

  5. I was hoping that your post should be related to nature and my hopes were not shattered.Just seriously thinking how 'fragmented' memories can still make us nostalgic.
    It was interesting to read your 'happy' memories through which you are now on a learning trip and in a way are inspiring me to observe and know.
    I have never heard that song and it was nice to see Mehmood and HELEN.

  6. @Anonymous thank you for being a regular visitor now and i feel honoured to sense that you look forward to my posts on trees.Yeah Mehmood and Helen in that song that my father used to sing as i would stay put in his lap :).Hope you liked that bit too although i suppose it was not a major hit.

  7. Beautiful description of the tree and your childhood memories. I wish I had a sharp memory like you. Talking about Aarah, I do remember going there to vist my aunt. They lived accross Ramana Maidan and it was full of trees. I am sure Kachnar was one of them. I am craving for the pakoras...

  8. Wow that earthy feel to the post..Likd the description using images!!

  9. @Peeti thanks dear for reading.Ur presence on my blog makes my herat so warm.Yeah Pakoras! that makes the three of us.You,me and my neice.Although i guess situated best where she is her teeth is going to sink into these crispies first.Meanwhile we wait :)

  10. @Nish thank you for your appreciation yeah but searching for the right images is one hell of a job.However feel rewarded that you could get the 'Sondhi Bas'(aroma of the soilwhen first rain drops hit the parched earth).:)The images in a way sufficed what my writing is yet struggling to achieve.

  11. what a lovely post..I was so lost in your childhood memories..trees and flowers add so much to one's lives..i was in a similar nostalgic mood today

  12. Frankly speaking, after seeing the video, I could comprehend for the first time in decades the true meaning of the song. Thanks very much. It did prove that there are lots of stuff in life to understand. This post was a superb description of the Kachnaar tree. Have to definitely make every effort to get these flowers and turn them into pakoras. Will keep you briefed on this.

  13. @Lakshmi wow! the avid traveller herself!!Thank you for visiting my seems a lot of us are sharing your and my mood today.Like i just told Nish we never outgrow our fond memories do we?And as Nish says that we still remain the child and never want to be anything else.

  14. @Tandarin hey happy to create that curiosity in you for something.i am sure my posts will remind u to try the exotic but i seriously doubt if it will be within reach.i do see some stuff available but most as extinct in the vegetable market...maybe if u r lucky u might...i wait along for my luck too :)

  15. You are champion of nostalgic blogs. I'd love to see a few pics of the bunglow or the surrounding area.
    Btw, I don't remember any flower named Rakta Kaanchan!

  16. @Raja thank u now for giving me that award.Regarding the Bungalow and the surroundings sry can't make u happy on least not now...but yes maybe later ,for that i have to take the journey to the land which i will and hopefully my dad should be able to oblige.So que sera...but thanks for reading my blog Mind blower!!! :)

  17. Which award?
    Why does it smell like senti here?

  18. @Raja...Oh that was because you called me a Champion so i consider it to be an award even if it is for my nostalgic blogs.And ur words make me happy NOT senti like this too is making me smile... ur questioning...thank you :)

  19. Between the 2 species of Bauhinias that are often planted in cities, they should be in bloom for a fair part of the year. So, you dont have to wait too long to eat your Agast ke phool ka bachka ...

  20. @Karthik aww!! so sweet of you to tell me that but till now i have not spotted what i remember as Agast.What i have seen in a few homes is Bauhinia purperia...the one that is purple or at best magenta.Mmmm!! maybe i should try this out.Thank you so much.:)

  21. Can someone please tell me the recipe to prepare Kachnar bud veggie?

  22. @ Manjushree thank you fo going though my post.
    As fo the bajji it is pretty simple.You got to prepare a regular batter of dropping consistency using Gram flour(chickpeas flour)and for crispiness maybe a table spoon of cornflour or ice flour can be added. Salt,chilli powder as per taste and if you pefer a pod of crushed garlic.Wash and clean the florets and dip these florets in the above batter and deep fry to golden brown. Eat this hot with green chutney o even as a side dish to Dal Chawal.
    Hope you like these bajjis. It's what we call pakoras too. Bon apetit :)

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  24. kachnar and agastya phool are two different things.