Kathmandu is covered in trees bearing beautiful lavender flowers. I asked some people what they are called, and learned that the name is the shirish flower.
I recalled a verse from Kalidāsa’s Kumārasaṃbhavam when Pārvatī’s mother, Menā, comes down to convince her daughter to give up practicing austerities, and come home. Why should Pārvatī chase after Śiva when there are so many eligible bachelor gods hanging around in her hometown? The verse culminates by comparing Pārvatī’s body to the delicate śirīśa flower. Now I have a mental image for this beautiful verse.
At home too there are much-sought after gods
Ah my child, such penance is alien
To your body.
A śirīśa flower cannot sustain
The delicate alighting of a bee
Let alone that of a bird!
manīṣitāḥ santi gṛhe ’pi devatās
tapaḥ kva vatse kva ca tāvakaṃ vapuḥ |
padaṃ saheta bhramarasya pelavaṃ
śirīśapuṣpaṃ na punaḥ patatriṇaḥ || 5.4 ||