Frangipani - The Ubiquitous Naturalized Beauty in Bali
Frangipanis, known locally in Bali as Kembang Jepun, or widely across Java Island as Bunga Kemboja, are present ubiquitously in Bali Island. Frangipani is also known as Plumeria in the western world. It is a genus from flowering plants of dogbane family, Apocynaceae. It is known to be a native of the New World Continent specifically Mexico, Central American, and Caribbean, but somehow found as far south to Brazil. They are currently widely used in many cultures out of the American Continent. Frangipanis thought to be spread from the American Continent through Hawaii and Pacific Islands into Southeast Asia, India, and Persia.
In Mesoamerica, frangipanis have carried complex symbolic significance. Among the Mayans, it has been associated with deities representing life and fertility, whereas the flower itself strongly connected with female sexuality. The Aztecs used frangipanis as elite-status symbols, and the trees was planted in the gardens of the nobles.
Known to be grown well in warm regions, Frangipanis can be found incorporated in many cultures across the region. In Hawaii and Pacific Islands, Melia (as what it is called by the locals, or Tipanie in French Polynesian) are presented as leis or to be put on the ears to indicate a woman’s marital status (left as taken, and right as single).
In Southeast Asia and India, Frangipani has been associated mostly with Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jain. In the non-Hindu, Buddhist and Jain culture of Southeast Asia and Bengali, Frangipani (Indonesia and Malaysia: Kamboja, Philippines: Kalachuchi, Bengali: চম্পা chômpa or চাঁপা chãpa), they are associated with funeral, cemeteries and ghosts. They are usually planted at the graveyards as the shade trees and for the flowers. However, the cemeteries usage is associated with Kuntilanak (sometimes called Kunti), a female vampire that roams around the cemeteries or empty bridges after the maghrib prayer calls. The legend said that they prefer young men over any others.
In India subcontinent, Frangipani has many names across the languages in the region. Their usage also varied from garlands to be exchanged by the bride and groom, offerings and decorative elements in temples and prayers, to the ingredient of the incense. Some of the name for Frangipani in India are Champa (Hindi), Champo (Gujarat), Chafa (Marathi), Deva Ganneru (Telugu), Khagi leihao (Meitei), Devaga Nagalu (Kannada). In Sri Lanka, Plæsiyar (ප්ලැසියර්, sinhalese) is associated with worship, where the damsels shown to hold plumeria on their right hand.
In Bali, Frangipani is called Kembang Jepun instead of Bunga Kamboja. They are ubiquitous around the island and widely used as decorations as well as materials in prayers and worshipping. Jepun salju (The snow frangipani) is the only type of frangipani that is not allowed to be used by the Balinese as worship and prayers material since it is commonly utilized in graveyards and during funerals.
Frangipani itself is a beloved plant for its resilience and low maintenance. They could be propagated by cutting a branch both leafy and leafless, and further plant into a well-drained soil with all day sunlight. They only need to be watered once daily either in the morning or afternoon. The production of the flower will be all year long in Bali, with maximum number of flowers produced during the dryer season.
Enjoy the Jepun in Bali and be happy for the beauty it offers.
Good plant, happy heart, well stayed, NamaStay