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Wine, saffron and love have been said to be a heady mix ever since saffron travelled from its home in Iran to become the domicile of India in the fields of Kashmir.

In days of yore, the warm, mood stimulating qualities of saffron and its therapeutic rejuvenating powers left few people in doubt as to what constituted a feast of love.

Saffron heightened passion and improved the ability to consummate love. Its exotic fragrance seemed just the thing for fastidious noblemen, princes and kings who often dandied themselves up with attars (flowery fragrances) or drank deeply of liqueurs before visiting their wives or concubines.

Women too drank deeply of saffron, as aromatic tea or by infusing it in milk.

The erotic association of saffron is suggested even in ancient Greek literature. There is enough visual evidence in frescoes of the period to indicate saffron-rich diets among young men and women of this civilisation.

The flower itself inspired legends and myths of love. The name 'crocus' is attributed to a shepherd boy who fell deeply in love with a nymph and was granted immortality by being turned into a flower. To commemorate the matrimonial bed, the petals of the crocus were scattered on it after a wedding!

Even today, saffron is an essential ingredient at Indian wedding feasts. A nuptial warming-up for the bride and groom?

The science behind the romance

The active ingredient of the essential oil of the crocus sativus is aphrodisiac in nature. Upon absorption by the system, a slight stimulation of the nervous system takes place, which in turn releases the right chemicals for love.

Saffron serves to enhance an existing mood or state of mind. So when the mood is romantic, there can be an easy way to greater bliss and happiness!

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