Written by London swaminathan
Date: 2 FEBRUARY 2017
Time uploaded in London:- 6-26 am
Post No. 3599
Pictures are taken from different sources; thanks.
Sirisham is the softest flower in Sanskrit literature. We see girls named after as Sirisha. In Tamil Sangam and post Sangam literature Anicham is the softest flower. My research shows that both the flowers are one and the same.
In the Kumarasambhava, Kalidasa compared the arms of Parvati to the delicate Sirisa flower. The arms of Parvati are imagined to be more delicate than even the Sirisa flower– KS 1-41
The soft delicate Sirisa flower can stand only the footing of a bee on it but not that of a heavy bird. Similarly the Sirisa like delicate frame can tolerate delicate handling and not the rough handling as in penances –KS 5-4
The image imparts grace and charm to the delicacy of Parvati’s body.
In the Raghuvamsa the body of Sudarsana is said to be as tender as the delicate Sirisa flower– RV18-45
What is Sirisam or Anicham?
According to Tamil books, Anicham is the softest flower. Like diamond is used to compare the hardness of any object, Sirisham or Anicham flower is used by all the Indian poets to compare the softness of any part of the body or an object.
Anicham flower is referred to in Sangam Tamil literature at least in two places in Kalitokai and Kurijipattu. In later works Tirukkural has got four references to Anicham flowers. They are as follows:
Anicham picture from Wikipedia
Even as the Anicham flower fades when smelt, so also are guests, so also are guests hurt when the host puts to a vary face. (Kural 90)
Blessed art thou, Anicha, tenderest of flowers; more tender than thee is my beloved (1111) (This is similar to the Kumarasambhava couplet of Kalidasa, where he says the same about Parvati)
Even the flower Anicha and the down of the swan are ripe nettles to the feet of this maiden (1120)
With stems she wears the Anicha flower. The weight may break her waists and sad drums blare (1115)
Reasons for my conclusion:
The flower identified as Anicham previously by some people, is not a common flower in Tamil Nadu. Moreover, that is not the softest flower where as Sirisam shown in the picture fits in all the descriptions. Anicham identified does not fade when smelt. Anicham may not be a Tamil word at all. We have no word with that sound (ani) in Sangam literature except Anicham mentioned In Kurinjipattu and Kalitokai. Sirisham is used in naming girls. But Anicham is not used in naming or Puja or decoration or making garlands. It looks very artificial. So we may conclude that Sirisham was known as Anicham in some parts of ancient Tamil Nadu.
Botanical name of both the flowers as identified in the websites:
Sirisham – Albizia lebbek (East Indian Walnut); Family-Mimosaceae
Anicham- Anagallis arvensis (Scarlet Pimpernel); Family- Primulaceae