Festival of Phoolwalon Ki Sair or Sair-e-gul-faroshan, as it is called, holds a great significance in the times when a diverse country like ours, is embroiled in a long drawn battle with the religious fanaticism. At the backdrop of this, festival of Phoolwalon Ki Sair draws attention to the great pillars of strength, combined together with unity and brotherhood of our fellow beings, setting aside the differences of all sorts for once.
DURATION OF THE FESTIVAL: END OF OCTOBER TO FIRST WEEK OF NOVEMBER
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE FESTIVAL: SYMBOLIZES UNITY OF TWO RELIGIONS
BACKGROUND AND CELEBRATION OF THE FESTIVAL
Every year,in the end of October,this festival starts continuing with fervor till the first week of November. Signifying communal harmony, this seven-day affair is organized by Anjuman Sair-e-gul-faroshan,is held annually. During the festival both Hindus and Muslims offer “Pankhas” and “Chadars” made of flowers, in the Yogmaya Temple and Dargah of Bhaktiyar Kaki,respectively. The procession of “flower-sellers” begins from the famous market of Mehrauli, making its way through the lanes, accompanied by shehnai players and dancers, offers “floral Pankhas” at the Yogmaya Temple before proceeding to Dargah of Bhaktiyar Kaki, through the winding lanes of Mehrauli Bazaar, as it fondly called, for laying the “floral chadar”, signifying equal participation from both the Hindus and Muslims. For the audience delight, various qawwallis by renowned qawwals from as far as Mumbai come down to participate in this fervor, apart from this shows by fire dancers and blaze and glaze of lights are equally a delight to the eyes of the audience.
The start of this festival traces its roots to Mughal period. What started as a paying of respects to a saint by a Muslim woman, continues to be celebrated till today, with great message to convey. According to a legend, Queen Mumtaz Begum Mahal, wife of Mughal emperor Akbar Shah II, vowed to offer “chadar of flowers”, in the Dargah of Bhaktiyar Kaki,if her wish to conceive a son was fulfilled. Subsequently, when her wish was fulfilled she went to offer the chadar in the Dargah, situated in Mehrauli. The Emperor decided to offer the chadar in the nearby ancient shrine of Yogmaya Temple, as well, hence, kick-starting the tradition of the festival. In contemporary terms, the festival its revival to India’s first Prime Minister Nehru, in 1961.
Role of flower sellers in the festival of flower sellers
As the name goes, flower sellers hold a very special place in the entire festival. Their “Pankhas”, are a symbol of communal harmony and national integration, holding together the country’s diverse fabric.
ROLE OF FLOWER SELLERS:
Flowers sourced from as far as Japan and Mediterranean shores,apart from the indigenous hinterland, hold together the sanctity of the floral “Pankhas” and “Chadars” prepared by the flower sellers.
A pankha originally was prepared by mounting two frames, each with a picture of Hindu God/Goddesses and Kaba or the verses from The Holy Koran, on the silk drapery covered bamboo sticks. However, in contemporary times the flowers and other plastic made stuffs are embedded in the bamboo mounted frames.
The fact that the flower sellers play a very prominent throughout the festival, we can subtly sum up, that the entire festival literally rests on the shoulder on the flower sellers.