Much like the rose, which can be found growing in gardens and on the hillsides of almost every continent, Islam’s most holy holiday, Ramadan, is celebrated all around the world this month through fasting, prayers and special events and traditions. Observed on the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, Muslims from many different parts of the planet look forward to breaking their fast each evening with family and friends and spending time contemplating spiritual matters. The end of this holy month is celebrated on Eid, which is a time of festivities and parties. Flowers, not surprisingly, play a role in Ramadan traditions across the world and are used to honor the graves of loved ones and are a welcomed gift at any iftar (the sunset meal) or Eid celebration. Steeped in history and recognized worldwide for its symbolism and myth is the perfect flower for this high holiday- the rose.
With between 100 and 150 different species in the genus Rosa, roses are found growing natively on four of the seven continents. The traditional five petaled wild rose has been cultivated for ornamental purposes in China, Persia and the Mediterranean starting as far back as 500 BC. Evidence of their selective breeding for size, smell and the ability to produce multiple sets of petals is found in art, literature and artifacts from these times and these early hybrids have resulted in close to a thousand different cultivars of roses in modern times. Much like the cultural diversity that can be found in the widespread practice of Islam, the different colors, shapes and names of today’s roses add to the intrigue and beauty of this beguiling bloom.
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In the language of flowers, roses have a variety of meanings based primarily on color:
Red- passionate love
Pink- friendship and appreciation
Yellow- joy and friendship
White- innocence and humility
For Ramadan, a gold colored rose will highlight the lanterns that are sometimes hung for decoration during the month. Purple roses, such as the “Ascot,” “Blue Curiosa” or “Claude Brasseur,” would go well with any Eid celebration as a hostess gift or decoration for the table.
Symbolically, the rose has an honored place in many religious and artistic traditions. It is found in many of the ancient gardens of both emperors and sultans. In Islam, the rose is most closely associated with Sufism and the highly romantic poems and lyrics of some of that practices most revered writers.
“What is the scent of the rose? The breath of reason and intelligence, a sweet guide on the way to the eternal kingdom” -Rumi