Monday, 30th October 2017

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BJP Jharkhand has to get its lotus from Bengal

Huge demand for holy flower during Durga Puja

By Animesh Bisoee in Ranchi
  • Published 13.10.18, 12:12 AM
  • Updated 13.10.18, 12:12 AM
  • 2 mins read
Festive bloom: A handful of lotuses in a pond in Dhurwa, Ranchi, on Friday. Picture by Prashant Mitra

Jharkhand may be a BJP-ruled state, but the real lotus isn’t quite blooming here, courtesy absence of an organised market.

Hence, florists in Ranchi and Jamshedpur are heavily banking on suppliers from Calcutta to meet the huge demand — more than 10,000 daily — for Durga Puja. The Bengal capital also supplies an array of other flowers such as hibiscus and marigold that are essential for holy rituals.

“Mythology says that Lord Ram worshipped Goddess Durga with 108 lotuses to seek her blessings before the battle with demon king Ravan. So, the flower is offered to the deity during sandhi puja as Ashtami ends and Navami begins. We have already placed orders from Calcutta. The consignments will arrive on trains,” said Avinash Kumar Malakar, who runs a flower shop and event management agency at Kutchery Chowk in Ranchi.

Mir Gulshair Baig, proprietor of Tulip Flowers in Bistupur, Jamshedpur, explained their dependence on Bengal for flowers.

“In Jharkhand, the lotus is rarely grown. The ones that are grown are of poor quality and can easily be identified by their fewer petals. These are not popular among customers. Some shops even sell kumudini (water lily) to ignorant customers who cannot tell the difference with lotus,” Baig said.

A single lotus — available in pink, white and sometimes red avatar — is priced between Rs 10 and 20 in Ranchi and Jamshedpur. The cheaper hibiscus has a price tag of Rs 70 a bundle (each bundle comprises 200 flowers) while marigold is dearer at Rs 300-400 (depending on quality) a bunch (20 pieces).

Horticulture scientist Sanyat Misra at BAU-Kanke blamed the dearth of organised markets for the unholy drought of lotus. “There are many water reservoirs in Jharkhand that can be used for growing lotus. Even flowers like aparajita and marigold can be grown easily. But, farmers are not interested because these flowers are perishable and they do not want to take a risk in the absence of an organised market,” Misra said.

The expert had a solution. “The horticulture wing of the agriculture department can encourage farmers by assuring them of profitable marketing through tie-ups with temples in the state,” he said.

State director of horticulture Vijay Kumar promised to consider the suggestion. “As of now, farmers have not evinced interest in lotus cultivation. They are more keen on growing roses, gerbera and to some extent marigold, as these flowers are more in demand during festivals and functions. However, we shall discuss and explore market opportunities to encourage them in growing other flowers,” Kumar said.