Where have all the flowers gone? Demand peaks in Agra (Election Special)
The start of the marriage season, the perennial demand for use in religious purposes, coupled with a high-voltage election campaign has created a shortage of flowers in Agra, and the ones available have seen their rates zoom sky-high.
"Right now there is pressure for flowers from all sides," says Ram Nath, a flower seller at Raoli Shiva temple. Apart from the various temples where there is an every day demand, the Sai Baba temples and the dargahs too need flowers on Thursdays. Also there is increased demand for flowers from the hotels at this time of the year.
"Each day, thousands of garlands are being sold in all parts of the city for the politicians. Rose petals are also in great demand. Garlands which used to cost just Rs.5 now sell for a minimum of Rs.20. 'Gainda' (marigold) is the cheapest," Mishri Lal, a garland seller in Belanganj area in the city, told IANS.
Flowers usually come from Fatehabad road and are sold at a dozen places in Agra, generally close to the temples at Rawat Para, Tota ka Taal, Phulatti, Kamlanagar, Balkeshwar, and Belanganj.
For politicians, as well as their supporters, flowers are necessary.
"Everywhere we go, people present garlands to the netaji or throw rose petals on him," says Premendra Jain, campaigning for the Bharatiya Janata Party candidate Ram Shankar Katheria.
Varieties like mogra (Arabian jasmine), gainda and the ever popular rose are in great demand.
"Gainda flower grown in abundance all around Agra is selling for minimum of Rs.50 a kilo. A fairly heavy rose flower garland costs around Rs.200. For star campaigners there is a demand for an 11 or 21 kilo garland. Also bouquets are in great demand," says Anandi Lal of Rawat Para, near the Mankameshwar temple.
Rose petals are selling for Rs.150 to Rs.200 a kilo. Most political leaders like rose garlands which keep them fresh and fragrant. "Walking from door to door, meeting, hugging and shaking hands with all sorts of people, they want to remain fresh and cool, so then need rose garlands," political worker Ramesh told IANS.
The demand in the electoral season has hit other users hard.
Marriage pandal decorator Anoop says the cost of decorating the mandap and the gates has gone up because of the demand pressure on flowers. "We are using imported flowers also. Generally flowers in this season came from all parts of the country but because of the elections there is demand everywhere."
The best solution has come from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in line with their ethos of thrift and marshalling their scarce resources to a great effect as they can.
AAP candidate Ravindra Singh believes in recycling garlands. "Each day, hundreds of garlands are being presented. We tell people not to waste money on them. If they are keen we give them a few used garlands which can be presented to us again."
(Brij Khandelwal can be contacted at email@example.com)
(Posted on 21-04-2014)