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The mesmerising golden shower

The mesmerising golden shower

The flowers on amaltas tree are canary-yellow and arranged in tapering bunches. Tribune photo



Rashmi Oberoi

THE perfect antidote to a hot, sunny day is being dazzled by shimmering golden ‘chandeliers’ magnificently bestowing their bounty on us. In case these golden blossoms have not charmed you yet, it is never too late to take notice of the golden shower tree (Cassia fistula) — commonly known as the Indian Laburnum or amaltas.

If you look around, you will notice that this medium-sized deciduous tree blossoms in all its glory mostly in the scorching heat. The flowers are canary-yellow and arranged in tapering bunches. It is a popular ornamental tree worldwide and apparently has many medicinal properties. The tree is native to India and other countries in South and Southeast Asia. Cassia fistula is both the national tree and national flower of Thailand — it is called ‘ratchaphruek’ in Thai and the blossoms are commonly referred to as ‘dok khun’. Its yellow flowers symbolise Thai royalty.

As the sweltering summer drags on, the tree becomes even more attractive. During my early morning walks, the path to the park is adorned with exotic shades of golden and yellow. A profusion of golden yellow flowers in full bloom, accompanying you on your walk, is not only a treat for the eyes but also lifts your spirits in a spectacular way. Most areas of my town have parks. The walking paths are vibrant with amaltas and gulmohar swaying on delicate branches that provide a natural canopy. The blooms evoke a feeling of gold being showered from the treetops, and hence the name.

This tree also revives memories that are dear to my heart. I spent my childhood in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where my father was posted as the military attaché for four years in the early 1980s. Our neighbours down the lane became our dear friends — more like family. Theirs was my second home and I used to spend hours with the Chandrans either in their personal library or on their swings set up under the boughs of a beautiful laburnum tree. Up, up and away we swung with the golden petals showering down on us. I took my children back to our home away from home in 2009 so that they could see and experience an important part of my cherished childhood.

Now that the new government has taken charge and voters are hopeful of improved governance, I am reminded that adapting to adverse conditions is our second nature. The golden shower tree blooms in difficult circumstances — when the heat is unbearable, when the rays of the sun are direct and when the atmosphere is dry.

Sometimes, adversity can create perfect conditions for us to grow. To bloom, to put in our best and shine. Indeed, nature is a great teacher.


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