Parijat: A Fragrant Flower of Nepali Literature

Nyctanthes arbor-tristis (Night-flowering Jasmine) is called Parijat (pronounced paa-ri-jaat)  in Nepali. Parijat is small white flower with orange pedicel and sweet fragrance. The plant, however is also known as “sad tree” because the flowers bloom during the night and wither during the day. Bishnu Kumari Waiba (1937-1993) chose to call herself Parijat in Nepali literature and enriched it with a sweet fragrance.

Parijat was born in Darjeeling, India. Her mother, Amrit Moktan died when she was still very young and was raised by her father, Dr. K. N. Waiba and her grandparents. Although Darjeeling lies in India, the people have retained the original culture and literature from Nepal. Growing up with Nepali speaking community, she developed keen interest in Nepali literature from her early childhood.

Parijat’s first poem was published on Dharti magazine in 1959. Her three poetry collections have been published:

  • Akansha (Wishes)
  • Parijat Ka Kavita (Poems of Parijat) and
  • Baisalu Bartaman (Youthful Present)

When her poems were being published and she was gradually being recognized in Nepali literature, she was also suffering physically. From the age of 12, she suffered from rheumatism which paralyzed her legs completely at the age of 26. This was perhaps the reason behind choosing the pseudonym Parijat. She spent the rest of her life under the care of her sister Sukanya serving Nepali literature as much as she could.

Although Parijat published a lot of poems and stories, she is more popular as a novelist. In fact, she is the best recognized female novelist till date. In the year 2022 B.S. (1965 A.D.) she was awarded the Madan Puraskar, the topmost and the most prestigious in Nepali literature, for her novel Shirish ko Phool (later translated as “The Blue Mimosa”). The novel is based on sexual psychology and the character Sakambari is metaphorically described as the blue mimosa, the flower which withers once an insect comes to take away its nectar. The novel is also said to be a part of the syllabus in the Maryland University of the USA.

She wrote in total ten novels and published four short story collections. Her works are notable for the description of intense human feelings. She seems to have understood human psychology and has been able to pen them down with intense characters. Some of her works are:

Novels:

  • Shirish ko Phool
  • Anido Pahadsangai
  • Antarmukhi

Short Story Collections:

  • Aadim Desh
  • Sadak Ra Pratibha
  • Salgiko Balatkrit Aashu
  • Badhsala Jadaa Aunda

Memoir essays

  • Dhupi Salla Ra Laliguransko Fedma
  • Auta Chitramaya Shuruwat
  • Aadhyayan Ra Sangharsha

Despite her physical inabilities, Parijat kept on serving the Nepali literature. Her life and works are inspiration to all.

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