Smells Like Nostalgia: These Distinctly Indian Aromas Will Instantly Trigger Your Memories

Smells have a way of whiffing past you when you least expect it, their tiny tendrils tickling your nostrils and leaving you happy, sad or nostalgic. Often, we relate these scents to what they remind us of. Maybe a certain time, a place, or even a particular food. In India, there is a deeply sentimental and poignant feeling that we associate with the unique smells of our country. Quintessentially Indian, these fragrances celebrate the multifaceted culture of our country – its richness, its diversity, its beauty, its food and its boundless love.

  1. Marigold Flowers


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Nothing else smells like marigolds. They’re pungent, musky, halfway unpleasant, halfway alluring. Most Indians unconsciously associate the smell of weddings, festivals and pujas to the piquant smell of marigold, the prominently colourful flowers strung in rows on every important occasion.

2. Sandalwood Incense


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There is something beautifully Indian about the fragrance of sandalwood incense. This sweet, warm, rich and woody scent is deeply interwoven with Indian history and culture. Those fragrant swirls rising from a bunch of smouldering incense sticks leave a smell that lingers for hours and is associated with spirituality and a peaceful environment.

3. Masala Chai

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Refreshing and deeply satisfying, masala chai carries an aroma of nostalgia — as if the past has infused itself into the drink. This hot, sweet, milky tea laced with warming spices and ginger brings back memories of lazy winter mornings and long chats on rainy afternoons for many.

4. Mehndi


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The earthy smell of mehndi has ‘India’ stamped all over it. Indians are ardent lovers of the pre-wedding ceremony of mehndi and its distinct smell unfolds a delightful recollection of the celebration and gaiety associated with Indian weddings and all other important festivities.

5. Desi Ghee Sweets


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The heavenly waft coming from melting ghee-laden sweets brings a smell that is a sheer delight. An Indian home that welcomes you with the nutty and buttery aroma of sweets made in desi ghee holds the promise of decadent delights and festive feasts. An incomparable smell that is hard to resist!

6. Spice Box

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The aroma of the humble masala box is another treasured smell that is typical of the Indian kitchen. The zing of cumin, the sweet bite of cinnamon, the oomph of mustard seeds, the overpowering peppercorn, the robust flavour of bay leaves, the punch of garam masala and the spicy vigour of chillies conjure up a sense of home, comfort and happiness which is just so Indian.

7. Camphor


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The smoky swirls rising from the flickering flames of burning camphor are a familiar sight in India, carrying with them a signature smell. The sharp, strong and invigorating fragrance of burning camphor will unlock your memories of those countless traditional rituals you have attended, the temples you have visited, and the sweet prasad you have gorged on.

8. Pakoras being Fried


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Rainy evenings ushered in with the mouth-watering aroma of pakoras sizzling in hot oil is an experience cherished by Indians. This is a smell that warms your belly and soul, pleases the olfactory and salivary glands alike, and is reminiscent of roadside treats and family gatherings.

9. Jasmine Gajra


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Flowers used as hair accessories have their own charm, a fact well understood by Indian ladies. The heady aroma of pretty white jasmine buds woven into delicate gajras is seductively potent and is a delightful fragrance redolent of beautiful times. Pick a few in your hands and inhale deeply, they will leave you mesmerised.

10. Coconut Oil


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A whiff of coconut oil, and warm memories are rekindled. The tropical goodness of the coconut oil is something which has perfumed many a head in India and is probably one of the most familiar smells for many Indians. Here’s a smell that will transport you straight to those childhood sessions of getting your hair oiled by your mother.

11. Cow Dung

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Mud walls with freshly smeared cow dung cakes drying lazily have a rustic beauty and exude an earthy essence.The peaty smell of cow dung cakes hold a nostalgic place in the memories of many Indians who recall burning the cakes for ritual fires and to stay warm during festivals like Diwali and Lohri.

12. Tadka

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The smell of tadka, as the spices hit the smoking oil with aplomb, is so inherently Indian and satisfying to the soul. The pungent notes of this comforting smell will remind you of being deliciously roused from slumber, of being welcomed home after a long day and of wonders that are homemade.

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These Distinctly Indian Aromas Will Instantly Trigger Your Mem…Quintessentially Indian, these fragrances celebrate the multifaceted culture of our country – its richness, its diversity, its beauty, its food and its boundless love.

Posted by TheBetterIndia on Friday, June 17, 2016

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