A florist sells white lotuses at Sakchi market on Thursday. Picture by Animesh Sengupta
A day before the Kojagori Lakshmi Puja, devotees in Jamshedpur are rushing to florists to buy the customary pair of lotuses, even though each flower costs Rs 30, six times its normal price.
Devotees of Lakshmi, eager to propitiate her in these times of spiralling inflation and economic slump, know how fond she is of the lotus.
Whether she is standing or seated, the goddess is ensconced on a blooming lotus and holds the flower in her hand.
Her other names such as Kamala or Padma (lotus-dweller), Padmapriya (one who loves lotuses) also testify to the obvious.
Florists in Sakchi and Bistupur markets have stocked up around 400-500 flowers to meet the demand.
The white lotus, which costs Rs 5 per piece, is selling briskly for Rs 30.
“We are selling the flower at a premium for Lakshmi Puja tomorrow (Friday). The supply of the flower from Calcutta is not steady and we are forced to jack up price. A pair costs Rs 60,” said Anwar Hasan, a Bistupur florist.
Customers are not complaining.
“Lakshmi Puja without lotuses is incomplete. It is an essential offering and I can’t compromise on it. Whatever the cost, I need to buy a pair of lotuses for my worship,” said homemaker Kakoli Chakraborty, scouting for her offering at Sakchi market on Thursday.
Florist Guddu Haider of Sakchi agreed this was one offering that the devout brought, no matter the price. “Thousands of lotuses get sold on the eve of the Puja and on the day,” he said.
Another florist in Sakchi said on Wednesday itself he sold around 200 pieces.
“I received my consignment from Calcutta on Wednesday afternoon and customers started coming soon after. Today (Thursday), the sales were even more,” he said.
Some canny customers bought lotuses the day they arrived from Calcutta, knowing they would be cheaper then. “Sometimes it is wise to buy the flower a couple of days ahead of the Puja. I bought a pair of lotuses on Wednesday for Rs 50,” Indranil Sanyal, one of the early birds at Sakchi market, said.
The lotus or Nelumbo nucifera is not available with florists all the time.
Florists buy lotuses in bulk from Calcutta during Durga Puja and Lakshmi Puja.
Florists have also jacked up prices of other flowers, including marigold, also imported from Calcutta. For instance, a small marigold garland, available in the city for Rs 10, now comes for Rs 25-Rs 30.
A small price to pay for the wealth of Lakshmi’s blessings.