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When she arrived in Madurai after her marriage, to Uma Kannan the city seemed to revel in an abundance of jasmine. The only Indian Airlines flight to Chennai, which was known as the ‘Malli Special’ in the 1970s, would be loading baskets and baskets of Madurai malli or malligai (jasmine) to Chennai, and for onward transportation. She recalls thinking that there were more jasmine baskets on the flight than passengers!

Thirty-four years later, the jasmine took on a new meaning for her, on a more personal level, when She arranged a number of malli workshops.

Uma Kannan has a doctorate in socio-cultural anthropology from Madurai Kamaraj University. She lives in Madurai and is the Secretary of the Thiagarajar College, Madurai, and an Executive Committee Member of INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage). Uma is passionate about Indian art and culture, and the preservation of traditional wisdom through the revival of local crafts and skills. Over the years, this has inspired her active involvement in several educational, social and philanthropic causes, including programmes aimed at uplifting rural women, craftspersons, and the differently-abled.