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|Kadupul and Nagavalli : Gifts from the Celestial Nagas|
|Kadupul - the legendary flower of the Celestial Nagas|
|"Deviyo diva malin |
Asurasen sith palolin
Diva Nai kadupulin
Nithin puda dethi Tilo Munidun"
"They worship him thus
|Copyright Explore Sri Lanka / LL|
|By Leila Ekanayake|
|Kadupul - the legendary flower
The miracle begins to unfold around 10.30pm. The night air fills with a soft indefinable scent, and the five leaved calyx, white with a hint of purplish green in its veins, opens out gradually so gradually that you don't see it happening and then a thin, three-inch petal of scintillating white peeps out, unfolding its beauty in the still night air. Another and another follow suit and by midnight all the petals have opened out and the stamens hold out their sacs of pollen. For a few moments this rare blossom sways softly in the night wind, like a delicate white manel (lily) flower. The fragrance is now intense, but all too soon the petals begin to wilt and by dawn the entire flower has withered.
Naga Valli - Betel leaf with a yellow imprint of a Cobra head
Betel chewing is a part of Sri Lankan culture. It is one custom shared by both the Tamils and Sinhalese. It is a good habit keeping the mouth fresh and free from harmful bacteria as the betel is an antiseptic. The areca and the betel also strengthen the gums. Perhaps this cultural trait was shared by the Nagas, for it is said that when they visited our land, they found the green betel leaf rather bland and therefore brought their own variety the Naga Valli. The Naga Valli betel leaf carries a yellow imprint of the Cobra head, the emblem of the Nagas. The chewers of the Naga Valli are warned to bite off a good bit of the stem and break off the tip of the leaf before they begin chewing. This is due to a confusion of the Naga clan, with the reptile, the Cobra. From this misconception arose the story that the Naga Valli was carried in the mouths of the Cobras. Hence the belief that the Nagas held the leaf by the stem or tip and may have left some venom at these points. If you watch a seasoned betel chewer, you will see him do this even with our green betel leaf. Even today when a sheaf of betel is offered as a token of respect care is taken that no Naga Valli leaves are included in it.