Mahodara isn’t easy and its complexity showcases the intent behind the brand’s vision of presenting to the world the beliefs, faiths, and rituals of the Indian culture.

This is a new perfume (2021) by Karmic Hues, and this review is written by Rajiv Burad – a guest writer for The Plum Girl!

Srivathsa Subramanian Sivakumar more popularly known as S3 is the man behind Karmic Hues, a house born out of sheer passion and love for perfumes. His enthusiasm grew in the same way as it did for most of us with some basic perfumes, then some niche, and then some indie perfumes.

Karmic Hues perfumer portrait
Srivathsa Subramanian Sivakumar (S3), the perfumer for Karmic Hues

The journey however was way different; he did not stick to just collecting perfumes and taking pictures. He wanted more, he wanted to learn the art, he wanted to create perfumes and above all he wanted to tell stories in the form of perfumes, this is where the idea of Karmic Hues came to be.

The most important aspect of the entire Karmic Hues line is that they are different, bold, and speak a language that not many fragrance enthusiasts appreciate since they are neither an alternative to something nor a clone of anything. Everything about the house is original, the idea, the scent, the name, and the perfumer’s vision.

The house is one of the very few that stands alone in its own country amidst the crowd of perfumers who make inspired impressions of already existing scents and consumers who want the same thing in as many different bottles as possible and such is the subjectivity of this art that nothing is right or wrong.

The first series of perfumes from the house is called ‘The Cosmic Balance’ with four perfumes; Mahodara, Matangi, Ushira, and Parvatha.

Mahodara happens to be the most intriguing for me from the collection for its raw nature and mysterious characteristics. The notes breakdown is different, complex, unusual, and alluring all at once.  Listed notes are Indonesian Patchouli, olibanum, immortelle, petitgrain, balsam, clove bud, tobacco, violet, civet, amber, musk, black vanilla, and holy ash.
Rituals of the Indian Culture Illustrated
Mahodara as a perfume embodies a lot of things and it is also one of the names of Lord Ganesha. He incarnated as Mahodara to conquer Mohasura the demon of delusion and confusion. When Lord Ganesha decided to fight the demon himself, the demon chose to ask for forgiveness rather than fighting.

Pleased by his gesture Lord Mahodara forgave the demon and cast him back to the netherworld forever. The scent itself feels a lot like this episode a very humbling experience.

The stories that can be brought to life by a perfumer are enjoyed more as a story and as a perfume as well.

Mahodara perfume bottle
I, Mahodora am robust in power and personality; kind in temperament; conspicuous on arrival; Like a wind, I carry the memories through space and time; Like light to a cavernous void, I nourish the soul, enriching the lonely heart.

The very first whiff of Mahodara indicates the intricacy of the perfume and a lot is going on at the first spray, a cloud of notes fighting amongst each other to stand out.  The few notes that glimmer the most are petitgrain, hints of vanilla and mostly olibanum, and a well-sculptured note of Clove.

Petitgrain hasn’t got life in the perfume for more than 5 minutes and the same happens with some other notes too. From here on, the perfume is more about the balsams, incense, ash, and patchouli. The most prominent of all notes is the clove and incense note and they make their position of dominance very clear until the end of the perfume.

The transition from its top to the middle doesn’t have a drastic change but there’s a catch, the top and the mid have very subtle camphor notes which in my opinion is from the clove, patchouli, and olibanum. These three have camphor nuances in common between them.

What’s most staggering is that the structure of the entire perfume throughout its journey is dry and balsamic irrespective of notes being present of resinous and floral nature.

Dry down is the most important part of a perfume, for that is the stage when the perfume is in a state of rest and fully matured.  Everything that we can smell now is what the perfume was destined to smell like.

Mahodara is the most beautiful in its dry-down; its true meaning is justified at this stage. The notes of ash, cloves, patchouli, and vanilla make the dry down wonderful.  Clove isn’t an easy note to tame and here it’s the most important and one of the most prominent notes.
The note that is supporting the clove note is the incense note which at the end starts giving the vibe of Holy Ash. It is also called Vibhuti in Indian traditional terms; a grey-colored powder made by burning cow dung mixed in milk, honey, and ghee.

The importance of this substance can be found all over the Indian culture mostly related to Lord Shiva. The note of holy ash in the perfume does come across as an accord made out of incense, clove, and patchouli but this is only a guess. I am not sure where it comes from but it gives Karmic Hues a very unique and fearless edge.

Vibhuti photo
Vibhuti (Holly Ash being offered to Lord Shiva)

I am absolutely in love with it and I wish more perfumers introduce this in a perfume!

A very important thing that most fragrance enthusiasts fail to understand is that an Indie perfumer isn’t aiming to make a mass pleasing scent; he/she is telling a tale, creating an emotion, evoking a memory, enhancing your senses, and broadening your horizon: just as Mahodara is.

Rajiv Burad, Guest Writer and Author of Scentedhaven

Photos: Parfums Karmic Hues, Wordzz, Rajiv Burad



  1. Karthik Purushothaman Reply

    Nice article Rajiv, thanks for the insight on the series. I have a full bottle of Mahodara and I adore it. Have tried ushira too and also like it. Need to find a chance to try the rest in due course of time.

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