Pka Malis or Jasmine
Most flower with good fragrance are white color. Jasmine is among them with special heavy fragrance. Jasmine in Khmer we call Malis or Pka Malis. There are only two common species of Jasmine in Cambodia, one with single layer we call it Malis Lea (ម្លិះលា) and another one with multi-layered we call it Malis Ruot (ម្លិះរួត). The most popular one is Malis Lea which people grow it as farms and used it in many beneficial ways of daily living. So the following so called Jasmine that reminding in this article is about Malis Lea.
Jasmine as worshiping flower
The white color is symbolize the purity, virginity. Beside white color, Jasmine has a heavily but pleasure fragrant. It was chosen to be worshiping flower, just like lotus, Cambodia people need it in all the Buddhist ceremonies. Every time people go for praying in pagoda or any shrine of local saint, beside fruits, there would be Jasmine. You might see some braids of Jasmine were put in the hand or any part of the body of the Buddha statues. Jasmine is used as perfume to make good fragrant of holy water since ancient time and only Jasmine till the present day. Buddhist monk scatter Jasmine flower to the prayers for good blessing in the regular worship at home. Every holy days of the Luna month, people would have Jasmine in the shrine of their house. At least they would have a stick of Jasmines and a hand of banana for their Chum Neang Ptas (God of the house).
Jasmine in other occasions
In Cambodian traditional wedding, the Groom and the Bride wear Jasmine braids in the neck for each other in the morning fruits ceremony when the Groom deliver hundreds of platters of fruits to the Bride as dowry. And it’s needed for scatting as a form of good blessing from relatives and friends in the evening ceremony.
In the many other ceremonies of any official events or just within family concept such as welcoming ceremony, inaugurate ceremony, certificate receiving, welcome home, or any other meaningful events for individuals, people prefer to have Jasmine braid as a mean of wishing for good luck. The Jasmine braid can be wearing in hand or the bigger one wearing in the neck.
Jasmine is also used to scent for good fragrance of some Khmer sweets.
Jasmine can help people relieving stress by its fragrance. Just a small braid of Jasmine in the room, can keep the room refresh and full with fragrance. That’s why Cambodian people like to plant Jasmine in their home garden. Some planted in pots at the balcony. When the Jasmine blossoms, the wind would bring its fragrance into the house. It started to blossom in the early morning, keep your good feeling for the whole day with Jasmine.
Some Tips of Planting Jasmine
Jasmine grows well with sandy loam soil. It like to be exposure in the sunlight, but not direct sunlight. However, Jasmine grows less flowers when the weather is cold and less sunlight. Water it every day, do not keep the soil become dry. Dead branches should be moved out, avoid effect the new growth of branches. Since the tree would keep offering nutrition to those dead branches.
Jasmine Farms in Cambodia
The biggest Jasmine farms in Cambodia are in Kos Krabei village, Kean Svay district, Kandal Provinces, just about 10km from Phnom Penh. The whole village are mostly growing Jasmine to supply for the whole country, especially Phnom Penh. As you see above how Jasmine is in used in daily life of Cambodia people, so it’s a quite huge demand for local market. Jasmine flowers more in the dry season from 20-25kg per hectare per day, while there is only 2-3kg harvested in the raining season. So the price of Jasmine is very high in raining season, because the demand is still the same while the supply is shortage.
Where to buy Jasmine and Jasmine Plant
Jasmine flower can be found easily in all the markets in Phnom Penh in holy days of the Luna month. But normally, it can be bought everyday at Phsar Thmey or Central Market. There you can order people to make in braids or buy in kilogram. The Jasmine braid for wearing in the hand costs about 5,000 Riels per braid. The one for wearing in the neck is cost about 15,000 Riels.
Jasmine plant can be found in any places that selling species of plants. The price is depend on how big the tree is. A small tree is cost about 5,000 Riels.