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Witness a traditional Indian celebration - a wedding ceremony.

The marquee, marigold flowers and other decor are vibrant with the auspicious red-gold colour of saffron.

The wedding guests are welcomed at the entrance in a small ceremony called 'aarati'. A gently flaming oil lamp held on a silver tray is circled in the air in front of the guests , and a dot of saffron powder and rice grains pressed on the foreheads. Fragrant saffron sherbet is offered.

The feast is sumptuous. The rice pullav is a golden colour, fragrant with saffron. There is a multitude of sweet dishes, and each of them, raj bhog, kesar laddu, kheer are redolent with the queen of spices.

The spicy tea served later again has that unmistakable musky scent and flavour...

When you see the bride's face half hidden behind her veil, her face has a beautiful glow, some natural, some created by the gold of saffron paste.

The symbolism of the queen of spices

Saffron is present at raksha bandhan and bhai dooj, and a score of other festivals rooted in society and tradition.

There must be a reason for this obssession with saffron!

It is a known fact that Indians are obssessed with gold and the colour it represents (gold is called 'suvarna' - 'su' for good and 'varna' for colour). Gold is an auspicious metal, displayed on ceremonial occasions. Similarly, saffron is golden, precious and good! The presence of saffron blesses the event and makes it special.

For all that's noble and high

Because of its cost, consumption of saffron historically has been highest among the rich. And for the royalty, its presence in various forms an essential ingredient to the day's proceedings.

Saffron perfume on the royal person. Saffron as air freshener. Saffron dyed royal robes. Saffron, just as decor!

It is possible that Indian nobility took cues from the ancient Greeks and the Romans where pomp and ceremony demanded that saffron perfume be strewn in halls and courts. When Nero strode into Rome, the streets were drenched with saffron!

Auspicious in name

Among the sanskrit words to describe saffron colour is 'bhagva'. The description of 'bhagva' could have been derived from the word 'bhagvan' (meaning god), or from 'bhagya' the sanskrit for good fortune. Either way it says the same thing - auspicious and good!

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