Saturday, October 29, 2016

My Marigold Scented Deepavali Perfumes: Profumum Roma Tagete and En Voyage Perfumes Tagetes Femme

This weekend it is Deepavali (or Diwali) and here in Singapore the Indian population is celebrating the most significant holiday on the Hindu calendar. In Singapore it is mandated that the very multicultural population here will have their holidays equally honored and acknowledged. This is great news for residents as not only do we have the mile long avenue of Christmas lights on Orchard Blvd., but we see Little India lit up for Deepavali, lights for the Muslim festival of Hari Raya, and festive street decorations for Chinese New Year. Having lived in India for almost four years I think the colorful lights for Deepavali, always in fluorescent colors of pink, orange, turquoise, gold, and green, are my favorite of the lot for their sheer exuberance and panache.

Deepavali is an Indian celebration with ancient roots as a harvest festival, but also based on legends of various Hindu deities triumphing over their enemy in battle. The name Deepavali comes from the clay lamps (deepa) arranged in rows (avali)  placed outside the home to signify the inner light that protects from spiritual darkness. More literally, the illuminated diyas represent the power of light over night and good over evil.  Deepavali is known as the celebration of lights due to the tradition of lighting these small terracotta dishes called diyas. The lights are the most significant component of the festive traditions, but there are also colorful rangoni (designs made of colorful powders or sand placed outside the door of the home), the sharing of sweets with friends, the exchange of gifts among family, and offering colorful garlands of flowers in acts of pooja at the Indian temple.

There are many directions I could go when picking a perfume to represent the Deepavali season. One could highlight perfumes that represent the spices at the market, chai tea based fragrances, or heady florals. On our weekly jaunt to Little India here in Singapore for a favored meal of tandori chicken, dal, and roti, the one shopping stop I always make is at one of the little flower carts where they sell the strings of flowers that Hindu devotees buy to take to the nearby temple. Jasmine is the most prevalently used flower and I love to buy a string of the buds and let it scent my house for the two days or so the blooms survive. But for my Deepavali perfume picks I chose two perfumes that highlight the marigold. There are always strings of saffron colored marigold garlands, sometimes combined with the more fragrant jasmine buds, because this humble little flower is significant in Indian culture as an auspicious offering, or pooja, to be draped around the statues of the Hindu gods.

Marigold is a hard scent to pin down, slightly herbal, possibly musty, sometimes sharply astringent. It also has notes of bitter green earthiness. It straggles the line between slightly unpleasant and provokingly interesting, depending on one's taste. It is a compelling choice when used with opulent white flowers as it tends to calm their gaiety and abandon. Just as the makers of marigold garlands often add jasmine or rose to the strings to make the overall scent more beautiful, marigold can play a similar role in perfume. Tagete is the genus name for marigold and it is the name used in the perfumes I've chosen to highlight for Deepavali.

Profumum Roma Tagete is a good example of the tagete note being used to tame the white flower beast. I have never met a tuberose scent I didn't like, and the only jasmine scents I've not cared for were because they were too insipid so no surprise that I enjoy the mostly jasmine opening with a little tuberose added to the mix. But very quickly there is something hiding in this bouquet of white flowers. A bitter edge, like a grass snake rearing its head out of a white flower bouquet, begins to infiltrate all the white flower wonderfulness. The bitter green note shape shifts in and out of the marigold "I smell interesting" mode to the marigold "I smell a little scary" note.  You have this juxtaposition of the typical big tuberose and jasmine floral touchdown, with a field goal of pungent marigold astringency thrown in for good measure. Before I decided to write about Profumum Roma Tagete as a Deepavali perfume I was going to do a post entitled A White Flower Perfume for Autumn Wear.  The tagete note makes this perfume transitional to me and different from the numerous summery white flower perfumes. The note of the marigold can be quite pungent and for some that might be a deal breaker but to me it just makes it a more intriguing exploration of the white flower theme. Notes of vetiver and moss give this an herbal aromatic vibe, but for most of the wear it is a fairly linear jasmine/tuberose/marigold scent. The perfume lasts for around six hours on my skin.

En Voyage Perfume Tagete Femme is a 2012 creation of the very talented Shelley Waddington, captain of En Voyage perfumery. On my skin the perfume opens with a touch of bergamot and an herbal marigold.  Blackcurrant bud gives a juiciness to the scent and notes of orange flower and rose give a slight jammy feel. On one wearing the rose really came forward but the other times not so much, a curiosity I've experienced before when wearing naturals. Notes of vanilla, fruity musk, and tonka appear as middle notes, but this is a very blended vanilla and not a standout note.  Base notes of sandalwood, resin, and patchouli are listed but on my skin they are very lightly present. The scent lasts on my skin around three hours, then fades to a soft skin scent mostly comprised of vanilla and sandalwood.  The marigold note is not a strong component in this perfume, at least on my skin, and I get the sense that it is a buffer between the sweetness of the floral and vanilla notes, giving this oriental perfume a quiet presence. I would say only those close to you would capture the scent. This is a  pretty perfume with a melange of well blended notes that bathes the skin with its golden glow.

Happy Deepavali or Diwali 2016 to those who celebrate the holiday. Does anyone have a favorite Deepavali scent?

Top photo of Singapore Deepavali lights from Second photo from Third photo of flower stall Little India mine. Fourth photo of Indian temple with marigold garlands from Fifth photo from of a flower seller in India.. Sixth photo google image. Last photo Little India in the rain 2016, mine. Perfume samples my own.

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