Dilli of My Heart

A dream in Mughal-era Delhi

Nayanika Saikia
Jun 2 · 2 min read

A prequel to ‘On Reading

By the author

royal blue anarkalis with golden brocade work,

heirloom gold jewelry softly kissing the swan-like necks and dainty wrists,

fingers laden with antique rings that were once the pride of a queen’s dowry,

mang tikas glittering just above the bindi,

on the center of a soft brown forehead.

dark eyebrows, kohl-rimmed coffee-black eyes,

cheeks softly blushing because of the eye contact

with the Shahzada standing across the room.

lips wine-red from the anaaj sharbat,

full with a til on the underside.

it is the phoolwalon ki sair

and Dilli is all decked up

like a bride on her wedding night.

marigolds and jasmine garlands

stark against black hair in buns and braids,

and a whiff of attar, arousing passion

in the Shahzada who passes by.

the nosepin that falls on your lips is a temptation.

a sight to behold.

and you are a queen holding court.

amidst jewels and flowers.

A Brief Historical Note:

Dillia colloquial pronunciation of Delhi

Anarkalis — a type of traditional attire for women in which the top is a flowing frock-like garment

Mang tikas — a type of jewelry worn on the forehead

Bindi — a circle of colour paint drawn on the forehead for decorative purposes

Shahzada — a prince

Anaaj — pomegranate

Til — a mole

Phoolwalon ki sair — literally the ‘procession of the florists’, this is an age-old secular festival (from the days of the Mughal Emperors until today), where Muslim and Hindu florists alike led a procession to Yogmaya Temple, and then to the Dargah of Sufi saint, Khwaja Bakhtiyar Kaki. Spanning over three days, these flower sellers pray for a better flower season in the coming year. It is held in September.

Attar — non-alcoholic perfumes in oil form, attar is sourced from botanical oils of flowers, herbs, and spices.

Nayanika Saikia graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature and was also a Dean’s List student. She is currently pursuing her Master’s degree. At the moment, she is working as a Booktuber, blogger, and reviewer with various national and international publishers. She can often be found on her Instagram account Pretty Little Bibliophile.

Indelible Ink

Non-fiction that resonates, stories that last

Nayanika Saikia

Written by

Top writer in Reading I English grad, Book Blogger, YouTuber I Writing on books, personal essays, love, and relationships. www.prettylittlebibliophile.com

Indelible Ink

Non-fiction that resonates, stories that last

Nayanika Saikia

Written by

Top writer in Reading I English grad, Book Blogger, YouTuber I Writing on books, personal essays, love, and relationships. www.prettylittlebibliophile.com

Indelible Ink

Non-fiction that resonates, stories that last

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