In the early hours of the day when the city is still in the warm embrace of their sleep, the florists community of the Mehrauli area in Delhi wakes up to the lavish scents of the innumerable flowers in that area. This fragrance when amalgamated with music, dance and merry is even more seductive, during the festival of Phool Walon Ki Sair or Sair e- Gulfaroshan, a 3 day festival characteristic to Delhi. Being a city of migrants, Delhi celebrates all festivals with equal vigor and zest. But this festival of the flowers has a secular quality about it as it is perhaps the only festival when both Hindus and Muslims come together to celebrate! Having a strong historical significance, the Phool Walon Ki Sair was celebrated for the first time by the Mughal Queen Mumtaz Mahal Begum to celebrate the return of her beloved son from prison. It is celebrated after in late September or early October in the city. A procession of Hindu and Muslim florists led by Fire Dancers starts from the Jogmaya Temple in Mehrauli, goes around the entire Mehrauli market and finally ends at the tomb of saint Qutubbudin Bhaktiar Kaki. A “chaadar” of flowers and a “pankha” are offered at the temple and the mosque. The procession begins with traditional music of the Shehnai and comes alive in the realm of Kathak Dances, Qawwalis, music, lights, fans made from palm leaves, covered with tinsel and lights and the large numbers of people present!
What is so special about the Phool Walon Ki Sair is that unlike most festivals in the country, it is not a “religious” festival. It does not celebrate a religious occurrence. It is the celebration of revival, of unity, of victory and beauty, which in a busy city like Delhi is hard to find. The only shortcoming it has is for the not- so early birds who might have to wake up as early as 3 in the morning to be able to experience the festival in full swing! But, I guess doing that once for an extraordinary experience is worth it!
Contributed by Akanksha Mittal