wearing flowers in your hair is widely seen to enhance a womans beauty, but further, a sign of her free spirit and a crown to declare her the queen of all splendour in nature.
indian women wear wear gajra – or veni, depending on the language – in their hair on festive occasions such as diwali, or otherwise on special and auspicious dates such as weddings. usually its worn around a bun, but it can also be worn in long strands to decorate loose, braided or tied hair.
gajra is most commonly made by threading together jasmine blossoms, but roses and other sweet smelling blooms are sometimes used too. any ethnic festival attire in west or south india is simply not complete without a string of gajra to complete the look and spread the soft scent of jasmine.
street sellers in india would have piles and piles of fresh jasmine buds piled up and string them together on the spot to sell to ladies throughout the day.
in countries where gajra aren’t so readily available, you do have the option of buying jasmine flowers from markets or florists, but generally this is seasonal and from my experience, they are quiet hard to find. an other alternative is to grow and cultivate your own jasmine plant – we have one in our garden. again, depending on the climate, you may find that the plant doesn’t flower, or yields only a few buds per year.
for those of us that can’t adorn our hair with fresh jasmine, we have the choice of using other flowers ( hydrangea are particularly gorgeous, although not traditional), or making artificial flowers ourselves. you can usually buy fabric or paper artificial garja online, but it’s much nicer (and easy) to make your own ultra realistic owns at home.
all you’ll need is a pack of paper napkins. about 200+ napkins can be found for only £1, and we can get hundreds of jasmine from that.
- take a paper napkin and unfold it until it’s large. then cut each of the 4 squares into separate squares.
- take two of the large squares and cut them into four. and then cut each of the strips into four again.
- if you can, separate each of the little squares into even finer pieces of tissue.
- take all of these squares you have cut, separate them and then scrunch them together with your fingers into little balls. repeat until there are no more squares left.
- now take the remaining large squares and cut them each into thirds lengthwise. and then cut each third into 3. and then each little square into half diagonally, to make triangles.
- take a ball and place it into the middle of one of the triangles you have made. fold the triangle in half and made a blossom shape by twisting the stem together between your fingers to secure.
- repeat to make as many blossoms as required.
- paint the twisted stems green with whatever paints you have available (i use watercolours)
- paint the jasmine with glue to secure (optional)
- spray the jasmine blossoms with a diluted jasmine essential oil spray to give them a pleasant aroma.
- string together into a gajra using either needle and thread or traditional no needle method.