Flower Rangoli

Flower Rangoli

Floral Rangoli

Rangoli is a folk art from India. Rangoli is made in living rooms and courtyards floors during Hindu festivals and ceremonies like wedding and events. Rangoli is sacred and used for welcoming Hindu deities. The art has been passed down through ages, from each generation to next generation keeping the art and tradition alive. Rangoli design is created by using colors, dry flour, colored rice or flower petals.

Rangoli is generally practiced by women as means of decoration. The design varies reflecting the traditions, folklore and practices which are customary to that part of area. It goes by name of Kolam in Tamil Nadu, ChowkPurna/Chowk Puja in Central & Northen States of India, Ossa in Orissa, Alpana in West Bengal and many more.

Rangoli design can be simple geometric shapes, flower petals shaped, impressions of deities, or birds, but the design mostly depends on the occasion. Like “Swastika” which is sacred symbol of auspiciousness can be used during any occasion whereas impression of impression of Goddess Saraswati is used in functions related to academics, music and arts as she is Goddess of learning or lamps which are used for decorations during Diwali.

Rangoli is a decorative and colourful design made on the floors especially during festive occasions. These are considered sacred and are meant to serve as welcoming areas to Gods. Rangolis are usually colourful (though you can find monochrome designs too) and are made using several materials like flower petals, rice, flour etc. In Eastern and Southern regions, Rangolis are made using a mixture made of grounded rice mixed with water, and are specially called Kolams (in Tamil Nadu).  So each region has its own ways of doing their rangolis.

The most common flowers used in Flower rangolis are:

Daisies, roses and marigolds. Not just flowers but leaves are used in flower Rangoli too

Before making a rangoli design one needs to understand the concept of rangoli, its evolution, types and importance. Rangolis hold a unique stand in our society. It is an art and is often used in collaboration with welcoming a particular festival or a special event.
Rangoli is a creative decorative design made in the grounds or entrance of your houses during festivals or special events. Rangoli is an Indian tradition which is followed since ages. People belonging to different creed, castes and religions follow this tradition.
Rangoli Designs are of different types. They are classified into free hand rangoli design, Dots Rangoli Design, Flower Rangoli Design, Ganesh Rangoli and much more. All of these are full of colors and life!
For online delivery of flowers, visit Mayflower.in

 

How to Prolong Life Of Your Flowers

How to Prolong Life Of Your Flowers

Prolong life of your flowers

Cut flowers, whether purchased from the florist or cut from your own garden, will last much longer in the vase if you follow the simple guidelines below.

Use a clean vase
Start with vases that have been cleaned with hot soapy water to eliminate bacteria and fungi and then rinsed thoroughly.

Prepare the flowers properly

Cut just-opening flowers early in the morning and place in water immediately. The vase life of flowers that ooze a milky “sap” (poinsettias, poppies) may be improved by immersing the bottom 2 inches of their stems in boiling water for 10 seconds before using them in an arrangement.
Gently remove lower leaves from the stem so there will be none in the vase water.
Before you put any flowers in the vase, recut the stems, removing 1 to 2 inches at an angle under water. You can do this in a basin full of water, or even by holding the stem and the blades of the shears (or kitchen scissors) under running tap water.
Don’t crush or burn flower stems. In our experience these practices are of little value.

Water for Flowers

Flowers in most arrangements collapse early because they are unable to obtain enough water to keep them looking crisp and fresh. There are a number of ways to ensure that your flowers get enough water:
(1) Re cut them under water to ensure that no air gets into the stems.
(2) If you live in a hard water area (you find white deposits in teakettles and on faucets), use demineralized water sold in supermarkets for filling steam irons, to make your vase solutions.
(3) Use a vase solution which is hot but not uncomfortable (100 degree F).
(4) Use one of the following suggested vase “preservatives.”
Never use softened water in a vase solution as it contains sodium, which is bad for cut flowers.

Food for Flowers

Flowers are living things, and like us they need food for proper growth and healthy color. Amazingly, you can provide much of what a cut flower needs with one of the following simple vase solutions. They contain acid to improve water flow in flower stems, sugar to help buds open and last longer, and a preservative to reduce growth of bacteria and fungi.
(1) Mix one part of any of the common lemon-lime sodas with three parts of water. Do not use diet drinks or colas. Diet drinks have no sugar and the colas contain too much acid for flowers. Adding 1/4 teaspoon of household bleach (Clorox or similar) per quart will keep the solution clear.
(2) Put 2 tablespoons of lemon juice or bottled “Real Lemon,” 1 tablespoon of sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon of bleach in a quart of warm water. Add another 1/4 teaspoon of bleach to the vase every 4 days.
(3) Use a commercial flower preservative. These are sold in florist shops and supermarkets but may not be as effective as the above recipes for improving flower vase life. However, they are inexpensive and very convenient to use; simply follow the directions on the packet.
Don’t use aspirin or vinegar in vase solutions; they are rarely effective in increasing vase life of flowers.
Use arranging aids properly
If you are using florist foam as an arranging aid, let it soak in the vase solution until it sinks. Do not push it down into the container as air bubbles will remain inside the foam and cause early flower death. Insert stems carefully.

Keep flowers cool

The higher the temperature, the faster flowers will deteriorate, so it is advisable to cut them early in the morning, when temperatures are cool, and to avoid exposure to heat. Don’t place arrangements in sunny locations, near heaters or fireplaces, or on top of television sets. Do put arrangements in a cool place overnight if you possibly can.
Even flowers require plant food in order to maintain optimal health. Fresh flower food is an excellent source of nutrition for flowers, especially cut flowers. Using food for cut flowers can increase their vase life, sometimes up to fifty percent according to many florists. This percentage can be even greater when other cut flower care tips are implemented as well. Cut flower food also provides numerous benefits in addition to prolonging vase life.
The sugary substances included in plant food solutions provide flowers with nutrients not only to keep cut flowers healthy, but to allow them to continually develop and maintain color as well. Additional ingredients help control pH levels, or acidity. There are even additives aimed at controlling microorganisms, which can lead to the buildup of harmful bacteria.
While there are many types of cut flower food products on the market, some of them can be quite costly. However, as an alternative to using these commercial brands of plant food, many people choose to make their own. In fact, homemade flower food can be just as effective at only a fraction of the cost. All it takes is a teaspoon of sugar added to a pint of water. An additional teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar will help control pH, levels while a teaspoon of bleach will help reduce bacteria.
In addition to flower food, cut flowers have specific needs both prior to harvesting as well as after. For instance, to ensure that flower stems are adequately filled with water prior to cutting, they should be harvested in the morning or evening, at least an hour after watering them. Cut flowers also absorb water more easily when they are cut at an angle. Freshly harvested flowers should always be placed in water immediately to avoid wilting.
Other cut flower tips that can help prolong vase life along with flower food include choosing unopened buds rather than fully developed flowers. Water should be changed at least every few days and cut flowers should be located out of direct sunlight to keep them cooler. Plant stems with milky sap should be dipped in boiling water to seal the ends while those with woody stem should be crushed prior to placing in water. It also helps to recut and crush these stems every other day.

To prolong the life of fresh-cut flowers, florists recommend you use commercial flower preservatives

The additives work by providing food in the form of sugar, fighting the growth of harmful microorganisms and allowing the plant to take in nutrients more efficiently by raising the acidity of the water (lowering its pH).
You may have heard that numerous homemade vase solutions — including water mixtures containing copper pennies, aspirin, vodka, sugar, 7-UP or bleach — mimic the effects of commercial preservatives. But do these home remedies actually work?
To start, pennies don’t extend the life of your flowers. Though copper is a well-known fungicide, the copper in pennies isn’t soluble, University of Florida horticulturalist Terril Nell wrote in a June 2004 article in Florists’ Review Magazine.
Whether aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) can effectively lower the pH of water and extend the life of fresh-cut flowers is up in the air. Some studies have found a positive benefit to using ground-up aspirin, while others have not.
Other home ingredients can help keep flowers fresh if used in conjunction with one another, according to experts from the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMA).
A sugar solution can provide food for the flower, but it will also promote the growth of microbes. You can add bleach to the solution to control microbial populations, and citric acid to lower the water’s pH.
Citrus soda, such as 7 Up and Sprite, can effectively make flower water both acidic and sugary, Susan Han, a UMA plant physiologist, told Scientific American. Han recommends concocting a solution of one part soda and three parts water, along with a few drops of microbe-killing bleach.
Vodka may also help preserve fresh-cut flower blooms. Vodka is often claimed to help flowers due to antimicrobial properties, but the spirit likely has a different effect, according to John Dole, a horticulturalist at North Carolina State University.
When you add a few drops of vodka to vase water, it probably delays wilting by inhibiting a flower’s production of ethylene, a ripening gas that plants emit, Dole told Scientific American.
Hence these are some tips that are recommended by most Senior Horticulturists and Scientists in the field and can have your blooms last longer.
For more information and to order flowers online, visit : Mayflower.in

Mothers Day Flowers Delivery

Mothers Day Flowers Delivery

Mother’s Day Flowers – Same Day Delivery

Mother’s day was first celebrated in 1908 by Anna Jarvis in remembrance of her own mother in Virginia. She campaigned to make it an official holiday in the United States. Thus, through her efforts it officially started to be celebrated in 1914. Different countries celebrate it in different months and different dates. For example, it is celebrated in the month of February in Norway, in March in Myanmar, Afghanistan, Albania, Kosovo, Gregoria, Solvania, Serbia, Tajikistan etc., in May in most countries and in the rest of the year in  the rest of the world. But the aim is the same to make our mothers feel loved!

Gifts have always been a way of expressing care and love towards one another. Thus, on the day of expressing love to mother’s nothing could be better than a gift to express your love for your mother. Gifts usually given on mother’s day comprise of flowers, chocolates, handbags, clothes, perfumes and cakes. They are either sent through couriers, mail or given personally. Cakes can be personalized or any chosen from the ones made. Similar is the case with flowers, you can get your bouquet made yourself or choose from the ones displayed.Other gifts can consist of almost anything according to the likes of each one’s mother. A nice quiet family dinner, lunch or tea made by you especially for your mother can be a delight for any mother surely!

Another idea could be watching a movie with your mother in a cinema or even at home on your DVD player. It could be an old movie you both always love watching together bringing back nice memories or even a new movie just for the sake of spending some nice time together. These days salons have come up with a great idea to pamper mothers, be they old or young ones! They present deals which include facials, pedicures, manicures, cuts, and dyes. It is a great opportunity to pamper your mother and pay the bill yourself making her feel loved and special.If you are a daughter you can always take two deals, one for your mother and one for yourself and spend a nice time together getting pampered. You can also take your mother to a nice, classy restaurant for dinner or lunch. It could be her favorite place or even both your favorite place. You can enjoy a nice trip down the memory lane over a nice meal with your mother!For little children who like being creative can always make nice cards decorated by themselves and ask their father’s to buy a nice cake of their mother’s choice and present it to her. I am sure nothing could be more precious and surprising for a mother than to get a card made for her especially by her children. Children can also help her with her daily chores on this special day and make her feel loved.

Even flowers picked by the children by themselves from the garden can be a surprise for their mother!You can come up with many ideas according to affordability, you just need to give it a nice thought or maybe discuss it with your father or your siblings. In the end, it all comes down to making your mother happy and feeling loved!

Flowers pose a soft and natural image when gifted. The colors represent the beauty of the nature and thus are considered to be a good idea when it comes to gifts. Roses, lilies, tulips, white, pink, red, orange, purple they all represent an emotion appropriate to the event and occasion.Flowers associated with Mother’s day are Red carnations but you can gift any flowers to your mother.

Mother’s Day in Australia

Chrysanthemum: is associated with Mother’s Day in Australia as the flower’s name ends with the word ‘mum’. Choosing flowers is not the difficult part, the difficult part is getting them couriered to your mother, especially for the ones who live abroad or in other cities. It is a great hassle to get them delivered at the right date. Usually all courier services say that they will deliver the order at the right date and time, but lets face it, it’s never true. There are so many orders to be delivered how can they possibly deliver all of them at the same time? And even if they manage to deliver it the same day there is always a chance of the wrong flowers being delivered or the flowers could be delivered to the wrong address! These problems arise at such days when all the services are jam packed with orders. In my opinion to get them delivered on the right day you should be a little efficient and place your order a couple of days before and not in the nick of time.

This way you have a 99 % chance of getting them delivered on the right date and time, because of certain services being given on, first come first serve basis. There could always be a cancellation or you may not be able to place your order if you order at the last moment.In today’s busy life we have many options. The internet is a very reliable one. You can always place your order online through a renowned website. They require the delivery country or city, the flowers you want to send and the delivery date. Payments are made through credit cards. This procedure is simple and reliable. It is not at all time consuming. Especially for people with jobs who hardly find time for family, this is the ultimate solution! Web sites offer discounts and deals for their customers. You are bound to find a good deal at a good price on a good website. The options are unlimited due to the variety of websites available over the internet.

Even if you live in the same city and you completely forgot to buy something for your mom you will be lucky and could also find packages which are available to be sent overnight to the address you want to send it to! Yes, it is that easy! Just a click away! You can also find sites which offer personalized cupcakes and cakes to be sent with the flowers. You can choose the perfect flowers for your mother and send an extra something along with it to make your mother’s day perfect!If your order is placed at the right time there is a rare chance of your order not being delivered the same day, so hurry up and don’t keep your mother waiting. Make her feel special this Mother’s day!

To order flowers online for your dearest MOM!!! visit: Mayflower.in

Sympathy Flowers, What to send?

Sympathy Flowers, What to send?

Whilst flowers are sent for various occasions, it could be tricky to understand the etiquette of sending flowers for Sympathetic occasions. However the best way to remember is that its traditionally all whites or pastel colors with nothing fancy with it.

Funerals

A wreath symbolizes eternal life. Funerals can still be fairly traditional and there can be a lot of cultural respect you have to abide by. If you are unsure whether it is appropriate to send flowers for a funeral, check with the funeral home, religious leader or family of the deceased and they will advise you. Remember it is more important to ask and be sure than to disrespect someone’s cultural/religious values as well as last wishes.

One definite no-no is never send wreaths or casket sprays to the departed’s family home. Only ever send wreaths or casket spray to the funeral home. A wreath symbolises eternal life and is very specific in its use and a casket spray is designed to go on the casket.
Traditionally the placement of flowers on the casket is reserved for family members and loved ones. Ask the family before ordering flowers for the casket.
Lilies, especially Arum Lilies, are the traditional funeral flower and white roses are another common favourite.

Sympathy

Never send a wreath or casket spray for sympathy. Both have a very specific purpose as stated above.
So what should you send? Bouquets are great for most occasions but at this sad time they can be a bit of a burden by requiring the family to find a suitable vase for the flowers. If you do want to send a bouquet, make sure you send a vase as well (you can order vases as extras in the ordering process). Instead of a bouquet why not try an arrangement as they come in a water holding container pre-arranged, so no fuss.
Or as a symbol of life you may like to send a living plant.
A lot of people are unsure what colour flowers should be sent on sad occassions. There is no right or wrong answer here but as a gentle guide the following may help you make the right decision:
Bright = “I want to cheer them up”
White = “They are a traditional family” or “They are a European family”
Pastel = “I just want to gently let them know I am here for them”
If you are really unsure the safest bet is a pastel mix.
But what do I say on the card? There are some simple yet effective ways to express what you are trying to say when really ‘no words will do’! Why not try one of the below options if you are stuck or use it as a starting platform to create your own individual message:
“Dear XXXX and Family, Just a small token to let you know we are thinking of you at this sad time. With our deepest sympathy, The ABCD Family”

Hospitals

Many hospitals have rules regarding what type of flower arrangements they will allow inside the hospital. These rules need to be respected as they are in place to protect patients and staff.
Arrangements sent to hospitals need to be:
Not too big there is limited room in a patient’s area so it is important not to send an arrangement that is too big. Tall slim arrangements are always good if you want to send something large and impressive.
Contained in a water source if you send a bouquet a vase (or container) needs to be found for the flowers to be put into. This is not always possible for the nurses to do straight away and a hospital vase may not compliment the bouquet.
Not containing soil a potted plant is a lovely gift, however most hospitals will not allow them in case the soil they are potted in contains bacteria, germs or other contaminants that could interfere with the well being of patients.
NOTE: If a patient is in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) flowers may not be allowed. You are welcome to call the hospital before placing the order to make sure they will be accepted. If it is not possible for you to do so our standard procedure is to do this on your behalf (the patient is not notified of the intended delivery so the surprise is kept in tact). If they will not accept the flowers we call the next day, and the next day, until the patient is moved to a recovery ward where they can have the flowers.
Article published from media and web clippings and to portray a general idea for those who do not know what flowers go for such occasions.
For online flower delivery visit: Mayflower.in

How to Arrange Flowers in a Vase

How to Arrange Flowers in a Vase

How to arrange flowers in a Vase

Florists make flower arranging look so easy but trying to arrange flowers with no previous skills or experience isn’t quite so simple.

Like everything in life, there are certain basic steps and rules to the art of flower arranging. It is much more than just throwing a whole lot of blooms together.
Design an arrangement with an end in mind:  to serve a specific purpose,  convey a message and create a mood.

Wedding flowers are different to Christmas flowers for example.The many aspects of flower arranging are accomplished through the perfect selection of variety and color of flowers, the style of the arrangement and even the choice of vase.

Here are a few tips on how to arrange flowers for maximum impact.

How to Arrange Flowers – Step By Step

Decide on the purpose of the flower arrangement and the effect you want to create.

Knowing this will naturally determine the type of flowers required and the size and shape of the vase that you will need.

Become a proficient floral designer and learn how to arrange flowers with the use of the best flowers for each occasion along with the perfect container.

Having selected your flowers and vase, what tools will you need?

The correct tools such as secateurs, knife, scissors, pencil, foam, plant food/water enhancer and ribbons are essential equipment for good flower arranging.
Knowing what tools are required is just as important as knowing what flowers to use and makes the task so much easier and enjoyable.Ensure you have a definite end in mind and a detailed plan on how to achieve this. Being ill prepared will only lead to disappointment.Making sure that you have all the necessary and right tools will go a long way to ensuring a perfect flower arrangement.

General steps to assembling your arrangement (specific design may differ)

Put about 2 – 3 inches of treated water in the vase. You can top it up later if you need to.
Start with your supporting flowers (usually the greenery) Trim the length of each stem to the required length.When using foam as a plant support trim to the desire length
Always cut the stem at an angle to cut create more surface area for the water to be absorbed through.
Trim any foliage off so that only the stem is exposed to the the water. Any leaves in contact with the water will encourage bacterial growth and reduce the lifespan of your arrangement.
Place your supporting flowers in the vase working from the outside edge back towards the middle
Have the foliage facing the viewer – not facing inwards and leave enough room for your feature flowers.
Next cut your tallest flowers so that the finished height will have them touching the bottom of the vase as well (not applicable with foam).
As a rule of thumb these should not exceed one and a half times the height of the vase (remember that it is a rule of thumb and not set in concrete).
Work with an odd number of flowers.  For example: one or three tall ones – this seems to be in harmony with nature and works well.
Place these in between the supporting foliage.
These taller stemmed flowers should be in the center of the overall arrangement and should face out.
Finally insert your filler length plants between the taller and supporting foliage.
Sticking with the odd number rule for each layer as you use shorter plants. If you have one feature length flower use 3 intermediate length ones and 5 if you have 3 long stemmed center blooms.
The result should be a balanced arrangement that is fuller on the outside, lower edges that naturally tapers up to highlight the taller feature blooms.

Flower Arrangements for Various Occasions

Flower arrangements differ depending on the occasion and the setting.Centerpiece arrangements, such as for a dinner, require a low circular or long horizontal design in a low vase or container, and are placed in the middle of the table. It is important not to use a high flower arrangement so as to avoid the guests not being able to see and talk to each other. If the flowers will be used as a feature centerpiece in a room, choose large, colorful and long-stemmed flowers such as lilies, roses and sunflowers as a focal point. Place them in a tall vase and add small flowers and fresh leaves to balance out the arrangement.

Flowers given during romantic occasions such as Valentine’s Day or anniversaries are usually arranged in a bouquet or a box. Popular choices are long stemmed roses in a box, or a dozen fresh flowers arranged in a bouquet.
When arranging bouquets, the same principles apply as a vase with the most vivid blossoms at the center and the flowers with smaller blooms on the outside.
This article is inspired by some web clippings and articles found online that portray how to make a beautiful and elegant bouquet at home.
For more information visit: Mayflower.in

Hong Kong Flower Show 2014

Hong Kong Flower Show 2014

The Hong Kong Flower Show 2014 organised by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department was held between 7 and 16 March at Victoria Park. The show attracted 550 000 visitors.

Kalanchoe

This year the theme flower was “Kalanchoe” and the theme was “Blossoms of Joy”. Over 200 organisations from 15 countries showcased exotic flowers, landscape and floral art displays. The participating countries were Mainland China, Australia, Estonia, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Spain, Belgium, the United Kingdom and the United States. A series of fringe activities were held during the show period, including music and dance performances, green talks, floral art demonstrations, greening activites workshops, green promotional stalls, guided visits, recreation programmes, fashion shows, cooking demonstrations and fun games.
Organised by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD), the flower show has attracted more than 200 organisations from 15 countries to take part in showcasing exquisite potted plants, beautiful floral arrangements and gorgeous landscape displays. More than 350 000 flowering plants are on display, among which are about 40 000 pots of the theme flower, the kalanchoe. With “Blossoms of Joy” as its main theme, this year’s flower show is supported by the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust as the major sponsor.
A series of fringe activities have been arranged to complement the flower show including music and cultural performances, floral art demonstrations, green activities workshops and fun games. Among them was the Jockey Club Student Drawing Competition that was held last week and had its prize presentation ceremony

Happy Wonderland

The “Happy Wonderland” on the park’s lawns has been well received by youngsters, with fun-filled programmes including magic shows, balloon-twisting, face-painting, African drum playing, inflatable bouncers, sketching, arts-and-crafts stalls, games stalls and more. Equally entertaining are the marching band and music performances.
Various programmes are being held on the stage, including rope skipping, artistic gymnastics, Chinese music and cultural performances. There are also floral art demonstrations by masters from Japan and Hong Kong.
The flower show has attracted more than 200 organisations from 15 countries to take part in showcasing exquisite potted plants, beautiful floral arrangements and gorgeous landscape displays. More than 350 000 flowering plants are on display, among which are about 40 000 pots of the theme flower, the kalanchoe. With “Blossoms of Joy” as its main theme, this year’s flower show is supported by the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust as the major sponsor.
At the flower show, a multicoloured floral carpet stretches from the Sugar Street entrance of the showground all the way to the stage. The theme of the floral carpet is “Home of the Animals” and it features assorted animal shapes made up of foliage and colourful flowering plants. Delightful floral displays themed on cosy homes around the world are also featured at the Hing Fat Street entrance.
The Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) is also presenting a spectacular exhibit entitled “A Garden of Joy in Hong Kong”. The display is made up of striking contours and a lively composition using colourful kalanchoes to form a multi-layered parterre, providing the background for scenes of everyday bliss.
Another exhibit, named “Floral Celebration” and measuring 28 metres in length and 15m wide, creates a rich and colourful layering effect. The theme flower kalanchoe in a variety of colours is clustered closely with other floral species to contrast with tulips. The tulip display in a variety of colours is strikingly beautiful and provides an opportunity for leisure viewing and photo-taking.

Other main attractions include a mosaiculture display entitled “My Home Among the Corals”, showcasing marine creatures living in the coral reefs; Brand Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Velodrome floral walls; spectacular displays from the Mainland; and interactive photo-taking booths.

For more floral information or to order flowers online visit: Mayflower.in

Flower Exports From India

Flower Exports From India

Flower Exports from India

Government of India has identified floriculture as a sunrise industry and accorded it 100% export oriented status. Owing to steady increase in demand of flower floriculture has become one of the important Commercial trades in Agriculture. Hence commercial floriculture has emerged as hi-tech activity-taking place under controlled climatic conditions inside greenhouse. Floriculture in India, is being viewed as a high growth Industry. Commercial floriculture is becoming important from the export angle. The liberalization of industrial and trade policies paved the way for development of export-oriented production of cut flowers. The new seed policy had already made it feasible to import planting material of international varieties. It has been found that commercial floriculture has higher potential per unit area than most of the field crops and is therefore a lucrative business. Indian floriculture industry has been shifting from traditional flowers to cut flowers for export purposes. The liberalized economy has given an impetus to the Indian entrepreneurs for establishing export oriented floriculture units under controlled climatic conditions.

Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), is responsible for export promotion and development of floriculture in India.

Varieties

Floriculture products mainly consist of cut flowers, pot plants, cut foilage, seeds bulbs, tubers, rooted cuttings and dried flowers or leaves. The important floricultural crops in the international cut flower trade are rose, carnation, chrysanthemum, gargera, gladiolus, gypsophila, liastris, nerine, orchids, archilea, anthuriu, tulip, and lilies. Floriculture crops like gerberas, carnation, etc. are grown in green houses. The open field crops are chrysanthemum, roses, gaillardia, lily marygold, aster, tuberose etc.

Areas of Cultivation

Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh , Haryana, Tamil Nadu , Rajasthan , West Bengal have emerged as major floriculture centers.
India Facts and Figures:
About 253.65 thousand hectares area was under Cultivation in floriculture in 2011-12. Production of flowers are estimated to be 1.652 million tonnes loose flowers and 750.66 million tonnes cut flowers in 2011-12.

Exports

The country has exported 27,121.88 MT of floriculture products to the world for the worth of Rs. 423.46 crores in 2012-13.
Major Export Destinations (2012-13): USA, Netherlands, Germany, United Kingdom, Japan, Canada and Japan were major importing countries of Indian floriculture during the same period.
India has a long tradition of floriculture. References to flowers and gardens are found in ancient Sanskrit classics like the Rig Veda (C 3000-2000 BC), Ramayana (C 1200-1300 BC), Mahabharata (prior to 4th Century BC), Shudraka (100 BC), Ashvagodha (C 100 AD), Kalidasa (C 400 AD) and Sarangdhara (C 1200 AD). The social and economic aspects of flower growing were, however, recognized much later. The offering and exchange of flowers on all social occasions, in places of worship and their use for adornment of hair by women and for home decoration have become an integral part of human living. With changing life styles and increased urban affluence, floriculture has assumed a definite commercial status in recent times and during the past 2-3 decades particularly. Appreciation of the potential of commercial floriculture has resulted in the blossoming of this field into a viable agri-business option. Availability of natural resources like diverse agro-climatic conditions permit production of a wide range of temperate and tropical flowers, almost all through the year in some part of the country or other. Improved communication facilities have increased their availability in every part of the country. The commercial activity of production and marketing of floriculture products is also a source of gainful and quality employment to scores of people.

Present Situation of Cut Flower Production

Inspite of the long and close association with floriculture, the records of commercial activity in the field are very few. The information on the area under floriculture and the production generated is highly inadequate. As commercial floriculture is an activity which has assumed importance only in recent times, there are not many large farms engaged in organised floriculture. In most part of the country flower growing is carried out on small holdings, mainly as a part of the regular agriculture systems.

Production Areas

The estimated area under flower growing in the country is about 65,000 hectares (Table 1). The major flower growing states are Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh in the South, West Bengal in the East, Maharashtra in the West and Rajasthan, Delhi and Haryana in the North. It must, however, be mentioned that it is extremely difficult to compute the statistics of area in view of the very small sizes of holdings, which very often go unreported. This perhaps would be the reason for unrealistically small areas reported for floriculturally active states like Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
More than two thirds of this large area is devoted for production of traditional flowers, which are marketed loose e.g. marigold, jasmine, chrysanthemum, aster, crossandra, tuberose etc. The area under cut flower crops (with stems) used for bouquets, arrangements etc. has grown in recent years, with growing affluence and people’s interest in using flowers as gifts. The major flowers in this category are rose, gladiolus, tuberose, carnation, orchids and more recently liliums, gerbera, chrysanthemum, gypsophila etc.

Area Under Flower Production in India

Area in hectares

Karnataka 19,161
Tamil Nadu 14,194
West Bengal 12,285
Andhra Pradesh 5,933
Maharashtra 3,356
Rajasthan 1,985
Delhi 1,878
Haryana 1,540
Madhya Pradesh 1,270
Uttar Pradesh 1,000
Others 2,166
Total 64,768 hectares
The production of flowers is estimated to be nearly 300,000 metric tonnes of loose flowers and over 500 million cut flowers with stem. In the case of production also, the estimates could be at variance from the actual figures as some of the flowers like rose, chrysanthemum, and tuberose are used both as loose flowers and with stem.
It may be mentioned that almost all of the area reported here is under open field cultivation of flowers. Protected cultivation of flowers has been taken up only in recent years for production of cut flowers for exports. The estimated area in production is about 200 hectares, which is likely to increase to over 500 hectares by the year 2000.
Recognising the potential for low cost production for export, in view of cheap land, labour and other resources, several export oriented units are being set up in the country. These projects, located in clusters around Pune (Maharashtra) in the West, Bangalore (Karnataka) and Hyderabad (Andhra Pradesh) in the South, and Delhi in the North, are coming up in technical collaboration with expertise mainly from Holland and Israel. More than 90 percent of these units are for rose production, on an average size of 3-hectare farm, while some projects for orchid, anthurium, gladiolus and carnation are also being set up. Nearly one third of over 200 proposed projects, have already commenced production and export.

Major Cut Flower Crops

Rose is the principal cut flower grown all over the country, even though in terms of total area, it may not be so. The larger percentage of the area in many states is used for growing scented rose, usually local varieties akin to the Gruss en Tepelitz, the old favourite to be sold as loose flowers. These are used for offerings at places of worship, for the extraction of essential oils and also used in garlands. For cut flower use, the old rose varieties like Queen Elizabeth, Super Star, Montezuma, Papa Meilland, Christian Dior, Eiffel Tower, Kiss of Fire, Golden Giant, Garde Henkel, First Prize etc. are still popular. In recent times, with production for export gaining ground in the country, the latest varieties like First Red, Grand Gala, Konfitti, Ravel, Tineke, Sacha, Prophyta, Pareo, Noblesse. Virsilia, Vivaldi etc. are also being grown commercially.
Gladiolus is the next most important cut flower crop in the country. Earlier it was considered a crop for temperate regions and its growing was restricted to the hilly areas, particularly in the north eastern region, which still continues to supply the planting material to most parts of the country. However, with improved agronomic techniques and better management, the northern plains of Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, as well as Maharashtra and Karnataka have emerged as the major areas for production of gladiolus.
Tuberose, a very popular cut flower crop in India is grown mainly in the eastern part of the country i.e. West Bengal, and also in northern plains and parts of south. Both single and double flower varieties are equally popular. Tuberose flowers are also sold loose in some areas for preparing garlands and wreaths.
The other main cut flower item is orchid. Its production is restricted mainly in the north-eastern hill regions, besides parts of the southern states of Kerala and Karnataka. The main species grown are Dendrobiums, Vanda, Paphiopedilums, Oncidiums, Phalaenopsis and Cymbidiums.
Among the traditional crops grown for loose flowers, the largest area is under marigold, grown all over the country. In most parts of the country only local varieties are grown for generations. African marigolds occupy more area as compared to the small flowered French types. Jasmine flowers in view of its scent are also very popular as loose flowers and for use in garlands and Veni (ornament for decoration of hair by women). The major areas under this crop are in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka in South and West Bengal in East. The varieties are mainly improved clones of Jasminum grandiflorum, J. auriculatum and J. sambac. The chrysanthemum, particularly the white varieties are much in demand as loose flowers during the autumn period of October-December when other flowers like jasmine, tuberose are not available for use in garlands etc. Among other traditional flowers grown in large areas are crossandra in southern states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh and aster in Maharashtra.

Research Support

Research work on floriculture is being carried out at several research institutions under the Indian Council of Agricultural Research and Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, in the horticulture/floriculture departments of State Agricultural Universities and under the All India Coordinated Floriculture Improvement Project with a network of about twenty (20) centres. The crops which have received larger attention include rose, gladiolus, chrysanthemum, orchid, jasmine, tuberose, aster, marigold etc. The thrust till recently had been on crop improvement, standardization of agro-techniques including improved propagation methods, plant protection and post harvest management. In view of the fact that most of the cut flower production is being done under open field conditions, the research efforts generally relate to open cultivation. In recent years, however, technologies for protected cultivation and tissue culture for mass propagation have also received attention. A large number of varieties suitable for cut flower use, as well as garden display have been developed. Production technology, particularly the agronomic requirements and control methods for important diseases and insect pests have also been developed. Contribution by the private sector in research activities in floriculture is negligible.

Planting Material

The requirement of planting material to cater to the large area under flower crops, is largely met from domestic production. Since efforts to set up large commercial farms generally suffered due to lack of quality planting material in sufficient quantities, this aspect has received greater attention in recent years in the breeding centres, which are producing sufficient quantity of planting material. Most of the nurseries propagating planting material are in the private sector. In the absence of any mechanism to register nurseries, it is very difficult to ascertain their exact number, but at a very conservative estimate there are more than 100,000 nurseries, spread out all over the country, producing seeds and other planting materials for flower growers. The states with larger numbers of nurseries include Maharashtra, West Bengal, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Most of the nurseries are small, with little or no improved facilities like mist propagation unit, green houses/net houses etc. For meeting the demand of flower seeds, several large seed companies have production units in Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir in the North, Karnataka in the South and West Bengal in the East. A few of the leading multinational seed companies have tied up with local seed companies or producers for custom production of seeds of their varieties. In the case of bulbous plants, most of the planting material is produced in the north eastern hilly regions of West Bengal (Kalimpong) and Sikkim, though for some crops, it is also produced in hilly regions of northern India. The introduction of a revised seed policy by the government of India in 1989 has enabled unrestricted introduction of many new and superior varieties into the country, increasing the variety in the floral basket.
Tissue culture has, in recent years, been recognized as an important tool in agriculture development. With its diverse climatic zones and qualified manpower, India is well placed to exploit the benefit of tissue culture based applications to floriculture crops. Most popular application of tissue culture has been micropropagation using in vitro technique for mass multiplication of planting material. Tissue culture plants of ornamentals have found ready acceptance by the commercial growers and their production increased significantly from 130 million plants in 1985-86 to 680 million in 1994-95. At present 30 commercial tissue culture units with annual capacities of 0.5 to 15 million plants each are in operation, resulting in total capacity of about 110 million plants. While most of it is exported, a small percentage of cut flower crops like carnation and gerbera are finding good market within the country.

Marketing

Marketing of cut flowers in India is very unorganised at present. In most metropolitan cities, with large market potential, flowers are brought to wholesale markets, which mostly operate in open yards. A few large flower merchants generally buy most of the produce and distribute them to local retail outlets after significant mark up. The retail florist shops also usually operate in the open on-road sides, with different flowers arranged in large buckets. In the metros, however, there are some good florist show rooms, where flowers are kept in controlled temperature conditions, with considerable attention to value added service. The government is now investing in setting up of auction platforms, as well as organized florist shops with better storage facilities to prolong shelf life.
The packaging and transportation of flowers from the production centres to the wholesale markets at present is very unscientific. The flowers, depending on the kind, are packed in old gunny bags, bamboo baskets, simple cartons or just wrapped in old newspapers and transported to markets by road, rail or by air. The mode of transportation depends on the distance to the markets and the volume. Mostly, flowers are harvested in the evening time and transported to nearby cities by overnight trains or buses. In recent years, the government has provided some assistance for buying refrigerated carriage vans. A large number of export oriented units have built up excellent facilities of pre-cooling chambers, cold stores and reefer vans and their produce coming for domestic market sales are thus of very good quality and have longer vase life and command higher price. The government programmes for floriculture development include creating common facilities of cool chain in large production areas to be shared on cooperative basis. Formation of growers’ cooperatives/associations are being encouraged.
In view of the unorganized set up, it is difficult to estimate the size of flower trade, both in terms of volume and value. A study conducted in 1989 estimated the trade to be worth Rs. 2050 million. It is in the period of the last five years or so that this business has really boomed in India, which is reflected in the number of new florist outlets in all cities and increase in the public’s purchase of flowers as gifts. This would put the current trade at several times the earlier estimate. A recent study of Delhi market alone put the value of flowers traded on wholesale as Rs. 500 million.
The loose flowers (traditional crops like marigold, jasmine etc.) are usually traded by weight. The average price of different flowers in major markets varies considerably depending on the period of availability (Table 2).

Average Market Price for Major Flower Crops

Price (US$1 = Rs.40)

Rs./kg or doz or each stem
Marigold kg 3-60
Jasmine kg 15-150
Crossandra kg 20-120
Chrysanthemum kg 5-25
Tuberose kg 5-30
Rose kg 6-60
Gladiolus Doz 20-75
Carnation Doz 30-75
Gerbera Doz 36-75
Orchids each stem 10-45
Liliums each stem 10-45
Anthuriums each stem 15-45
The net returns to the growers depend on the packaging and transportation costs. The cut flowers with stem have a limited overall market in terms of volume. The share of cut flowers has almost doubled from 30 to 60% in the last decade.
The value of cut flower export from India has increased twenty five fold during the last five years (Table 3). With more export oriented units coming into operation, exports are likely to grow further in the coming years. The major share of the export trade is for roses, in addition to orchids, gladiolus etc. The major markets are Europe (Holland, Germany and U.K.) and Japan. The exports of roses to Japan, have really picked up in the three years from Rs. 360 million in 1993-94 to Rs. 6090 million in 1995-96. As per the estimates for 1996-97, India has been the largest supplier of roses to Japan (volume wise).

Potential for Cut Flower Production Development

The availability of natural resources like favourable and diverse climatic conditions permit production and availability of a large variety of flower crops round the year. Cheap labour leads to reduction in production costs, increasing access of the consumer to good quality flowers at affordable prices, besides increasing our competitiveness in the export markets. Being a new concept in the agri-business, it took some time for scientific commercial flower production to take roots, but with the appreciation of its potential as an economically viable diversification option, its growth is slowly stabilising. The government also has, during the last few years, recognized floriculture as an important segment for developmental initiatives. Model Floriculture Centres being set up in 11 major production zones, to serve as focal units for development in the region, have a mandate of making available quality planting material, new/improved production technologies and also to provide training in production and post harvest management. There are also special government programmes for area expansion in floriculture with state assistance. The National Horticulture Board, a major developmental agency for horticulture, also makes available finances as soft loan for setting up integrated projects for production and marketing. As mentioned earlier, the government is investing in improving the infrastructure for marketing in the domestic sector.
Production of cut flowers for exports is also a thrust area for support. The Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), the nodal organization for promotion of agri-exports including flowers, has introduced several schemes for promoting floriculture exports from the country. These relate to development of infrastructure, packaging, market development, air freight subsidy etc. The 100% Export Oriented Units are also given benefits like duty free imports of capital goods.
All these efforts indicate the government’s commitment for improving the sector and creating a positive environment for entrepreneurship development in the field.

Constraints in Cut Flower Production Development

Being a new concept, the requirements of scientific and commercial floriculture is not properly understood in the country. The developmental initiatives of the government have to keep in mind the low knowledge base, small land holdings, unorganized marketing and poor infrastructural support.
While long experience of flower growing in the open field conditions enable sufficient flower production for domestic markets, the quality of the produce, in view of its exposure to various kinds of biotic and abiotic stresses, is not suitable for the ever growing export market. The production technology for flowers under protected environment of green houses needs to be standardized. There is hardly any post harvest management of flowers for the domestic market. Availability of surplus flowers from exports for sale in the domestic market, has increased the appreciation of quality produce and the demand for good quality flowers is increasing. With the introduction of new varieties of crops in the country, facilities for generating their planting material for large scale production need strengthening. Special attention needs to be paid to strengthen the marketing infrastructure like organised marketing yards, auction platforms, controlled condition storage chambers etc.
Greater research efforts are also needed for integrated pest management, development of location specific package of practices for traditional flowers, value addition to traditional flowers etc.
The initial cost and availability of finance is a critical matter in the development of large commercial projects requiring heavy investments. More options for developmental finance, such as the soft loan scheme of the National Horticulture Board need to be identified. In the initial years of commercial floriculture development, the governmental support in terms of subsidies etc. needs special attention.
The potential for growth of export market is always linked to the strength of domestic market – its capacity to absorb surplus and over production, and quality consciousness of consumers. Though we have a large domestic market, the marketing system and facilities need to be modernized.
The production for exports at present has suffered due to a few constraints. While our growers have been successful in producing world class quality at low cost, high air freight rates, low cargo capacity available, imposition of import duties, inadequate export infrastructure etc. have reduced their competitiveness.
There is also a shortage of trained manpower to handle commercial floriculture activity. The demands of the growing export oriented industry would require adequate attention to be paid for human resource development, particularly at the supervisory level.

Conclusions

India has a long floriculture history and flower growing is an age old enterprise. What it has lacked is its commercialization. The growing demands of flowers in the domestic as well as the export market will require a concerted effort on the part of the government as well as the private entrepreneurs to develop floriculture on scientific lines. Paying attention to the input needs, better resource management and making various policies entrepreneur friendly would lead to a balanced growth of the industry.
Articles from Web Publishings and Magazine Articlies from Floriculture Media.
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Keukenhof – Garden of Europe

Keukenhof – Garden of Europe

Keukenhof – Garden of Europe

Keukenhof (“Kitchen garden”, Dutch pronunciation: [ˈkøːkə(n)ˌɦɔf]), also known as the Garden of Europe, is the world’s largest flower garden. It is situated near Lisse, the Netherlands. According to the official website for the Keukenhof Park, approximately 7 million flower bulbs are planted annually in the park, which covers an area of 32 hectares.

Keukenhof is located in South Holland in the small town of Lisse, south of Haarlem and southwest of Amsterdam. It is accessible by bus from the train stations of Haarlem, Leiden and Schiphol. It is located in an area called the “Dune and Bulb Region” (Duin- en Bollenstreek).
Keukenhof is open annually from mid-March to mid-May. The best time to view the tulips is around mid-April, depending on the weather.
Keukenhof is situated on 15th century hunting grounds. It was also a source of herbs for Jacqueline, Countess of Hainaut’s castle, which is the source of the name Keukenhof (it served to provide herbs for the castle’s kitchen). Rich merchants took over the grounds after the Countess’s death. VOC captain and governor Adriaen Maertensz Block lived there in his retirement years in the 17th century in the country house (now known as Castle Keukenhof) which he had let built in 1641.
In the 19th century, the Baron and Baroness Van Pallandt assigned the landscape architect Jan David Zocher and his son Louis Paul Zocher, who had also worked on the Vondelpark, to design the grounds around the castle.
The garden was established in 1949 by the then-mayor of Lisse. The idea was to present a flower exhibit where growers from all over the Netherlands and Europe could show off their hybrids – and help the Dutch export industry (the Netherlands is the world’s largest exporter of flowers).

Gardens of Keukenhof

The Keukenhof features a variety of different gardens and garden styles. For example, the English landscape garden features winding paths and unexpected see-through points (designed by Zocher in 1830, the garden architect of the Vondelpark in Amsterdam, among others). The historical garden is an enclosed garden where you can see many old types of bulbs. The nature garden consists of a water garden where shrubs and perennials are combined with bulbous plants. The Japanese country garden is a non-traditional garden in a natural environment.
The Keukenhof doesn’t contain the long fields of tulips many visitors expect. However, there are tulip fields outside the Garden (mostly privately owned). These fields may have restricted access and are not included as part of the Keukenhof ticket.

Opening times of Keukenhof

Keukenhof is scheduled to be open from 20 March to 18 May 2014.The Flower Parade will be held on Saturday, 3 May 2014.
The grounds of Castle Keukenhof are open all year long and are frequently used for festivals such as Castlefest, the Ladies Winternight,and the Christmas Fair. The castle also houses classical music performances.

Distinguished visitors

 Many dignitaries have visited the Keukenhof. Queen Juliana was a patron. Her daughters, princesses Beatrix, Irene and Margriet were among the first visitors in 1950. As a passionate filmmaker Prince Bernhard shot some unique films. Other members of the Dutch Royal Family also visited the Keukenhof. In 2001 prince Willem-Alexander and his girlfriend, Maxima, paid a visit to present themselves to the Dutch population. They planted a Tilla europea, the “Koningslinde”.
In the autumn of 2003, Prince Willem-Alexander, together with Olympic medal winners Ankie van Grunsven and Pieter van den Hoogenband, planted the symbolical first bulb for the Olympic rings.
In 2005 the park was opened by Princess Margriet.

Other information and Guided Tours to the Garden of Keukenhof

Make the visit of your group to Keukenhof even better! Book a guided tour around the park, enjoy the flowerbulb fields around the park in a whisperboat or make a bike ride in the surroundigs of the park. Keukenhof is also the perfect venue for your lunch, dinner or drinks reception. Your group will have an unforgettable day.

Cycling, boat trips, guided tours

Book a guided tour around the park: our guides will tell you all about the history of Keukenhof and the origins of the tulip, providing background information and fascinating facts.
Relax as you enjoy the peace and quiet of the endless bulb fields around Keukenhof in an electrically-propelled whisper boat. The boat trip takes 45 minutes. Spectacular photos are guaranteed!
Explore the beautiful and colourful Bulb Growing Region by bike! Bicycle hire includes a signposted cycle route; you can choose from four routes, varying in length from 5 to 25 kilometres. Genuine cycling fanatics can even take the ‘Bollenstreek route’ covering a full 35 km. There are ladies’, men’s and children’s bikes and tandems for hire, and child seats and cycle helmets are also available.

Coffee, lunch, dinner

Our five restaurants offer various packages for groups, ranging from coffee with cake to a full menu. Perhaps you would like to let your guests decide for themselves? In that case, order one of our restaurant vouchers.
Our restaurants are able to cater for various dietary needs, such as lactose or gluten-free dishes. Please state this clearly when placing your booking.

A school trip to Keukenhof!!

Have fun while learning all about history, the growth cycle and how flower bulbs are processed at the Bulb Information Pavilion.
Or just play and have fun at the petting farm and in the playground.
Article information sourced from Wiki Links and online information
To order flowers online, visit Mayflower.in

Do Dried Flowers Bring Bad Luck?

Do Dried Flowers Bring Bad Luck?

Do Dried Flowers bring Bad Luck?

Here we go…another silly myth incorrectly associated with Feng Shui…
Much has been written in Feng Shui literature associating dried plants with negative energy. Some of this information goes to the extreme by crediting dried plants as the potential source of all sorts of calamities. This of course is not true.
This myth is based on the concept that dried flowers and plants were once alive and are now dead. The thought is that if you display these “dead” items in your home they will attract negative energy.

Think about it…if this were true, you would have to get rid of all your wooden furniture or risk being surrounded by “dead” energy all the time.  Nonsense!

While dried flowers usually do not evoke the same feelings of vitality and energy that real plants do they are by no means the bearers of negative events and catastrophes. In fact, under certain circumstances dried plants can have very positive associations for people; for example when kept as mementos of weddings, proms, and other happy experiences. If you wish to display mementos of dried flowers, make sure to do so in such a way that they do not get too dusty or brittle as they may become an eyesore rather than reminders of a pleasant event.
If you are choosing dried flowers for décor purposes only, you may want to consider realistic silk alternatives.  Silk plants can be used to symbolize a healthy plant in an area that needs the look of foliage but for one reason or another cannot support a healthy living plant.
Silk plants are preferable to dried plants as they provide an image of vitality that the dried plants do not. In fact, some silk plants are so realistic looking that it is difficult to tell one apart from a living plant. This all being said, a silk plant is just a replica of a living plant and should only be used to improve the look and décor of a room. Silk plants cannot be used as a substitute for a real plant when an area needs to be activated by the Wood element.
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Festival of Holi and Flowers

Festival of Holi and Flowers

Holi Festival

Holi Festival one of the major festivals of India, Holi is celebrated with enthusiasm and gaiety on the full moon day in the month of Phalgun which is the month of March as per the Gregorian calendar.

Holi festival may be celebrated with various names and people of different states might be following different traditions. But, what makes Holi so unique and special is the spirit of it which remains the same throughout the country and even across the globe, wherever it is celebrated.

Preparations of Holi festival

Entire country wears a festive look when it is time for Holi celebration. Market places get abuzz with activity as frenzied shoppers start making preparations for the festival. Heaps of various hues of gulal and abeer can be seen on the roadside days before the festival. Pichkaris in innovative and modern design too come up every year to lure the children who wish to collect them as Holi memorabilia and of course, to drench everybody in the town.

Women folks too start making early preparations for the holi festival as they cook loads of gujiya, mathri and papri for the family and also for the relatives. At some places specially in the north women also make papads and potato chips at this time.

Season of Bloom

Everybody gets delighted at the arrival of Holi as the season itself is so gay. Holi is also called the Spring Festival – as it marks the arrival of spring the season of hope and joy. The gloom of the winter goes as Holi promises of bright summer days. Nature too, it seems rejoices at the arrival of Holi and wears its best clothes. Fields get filled with crops promising a good harvest to the farmers and flowers bloom colouring the surroundings and filling fragrance in the air.

Legends

A Hindu festival, Holi has various legends associated with it. The foremost is the legend of demon King Hiranyakashyap who demanded everybody in his kingdom to worship him but his pious son, Prahlad became a devotee of Lord Vishnu. Hiranyakashyap wanted his son to be killed. He asked his sister Holika to enter a blazing fire with Prahlad in her lap as Holika had a boon which made he immune to fire. Story goes that Prahlad was saved by lord himself for his extreme devotion and evil minded Holika was burnt to ashes, for her boon worked only when she entered the fire alone.

Since that time, people light a bonfire, called Holika on the eve of Holi festival and celebrate the victory of good over evil and also the triumph of devotion to god. Children take special delight in the tradition and this has another legend attached to it. It says that there was once an ogress Dhundhi who used to trouble children in the kingdom of Prithu. She was chased away by children on the day of Holi. Therefore, children are allowed to play pranks at the time of ‘Holika Dahan’.
Some also celebrate the death of evil minded Pootana. The ogress tried to Lord Krishna as an infant by feeding it poisonous milk while executing the plan of Kansa, Krishna’s devil uncle. However, Krishna sucked her blood and brought her end. Some who view the origin of festivals from seasonal cycles believe that Pootana represents winter and her death the cessation and end of winter.
In South India, people worship Kaamadeva- the god of love and passion for his extreme sacrifice. According to a legend, Kaamadeva shot his powerful love arrow on Lord Shiva to revoke his interest in the worldly affairs in the interest of the earth. However, Lord Shiva was enraged as he was in deep mediation and opened his third eye which reduced Kaamadeva to ashes. Though, later on the request of Rati, Kaamadeva’s wife, Shiva was pleased to restore him back.

Holika Dahan

On the eve of Holi, called Chhoti or Small Holi people gather at important crossroads and light huge bonfires, the ceremony is called Holika Dahan. This tradition is also followed in Gujarat and Orissa. To render greatfulness to Agni, god of Fire, gram and stalks from the harvest are also offered to Agni with all humility. Ash left from this bonfire is also considered sacred and people apply it on their foreheads. People believe that the ash protects them from evil forces.

Play of Colors

Great excitement can be seen in people on the next day when it is actually the time for the play of colours. Shops and offices remain closed for the day and people get all the time to get crazy and whacky. Bright colours of gulal and abeer fill the air and people take turns in pouring colour water over each other. Children take special delight in spraying colours on one another with their pichkaris and throwing water balloons and passers by. Women and senior citizen form groups called tolis and move in colonies – applying colours and exchanging greetings. Songs, dance on the rhythm of dholak and mouthwatering Holi delicacies are the other highlights of the day.

Expression of Love

Lovers too long to apply colours on their beloved. This has a popular legend behind it. It is said that the naughty and mischievous Lord Krishna started the trend of playing colours. He applied colour on her beloved Radha to make her one like him. The trend soon gained popularity amongst the masses. No wonder, there is no match to the Holi of Mathura, Vrindavan and Barsana – the places associated with the birth and childhood of Radha and Krishna.

Ecstasy of Bhang

There is also a tradition of consuming the very intoxicating bhang on this day to further enhance the spirit of Holi. It is so much fun to watch the otherwise sober people making a clown of themselves in full public display. Some, however, take bhang in excess and spoil the spirit. Caution should therefore be taken while consuming bhang delicacies.

Sober Evening

After a fun-filled and exciting day, the evenings the spent in sobriety when people meet friends and relatives and exchange sweets and festive greetings.

It is said the spirit of Holi encourages the feeling of brotherhood in society and even the enemies turn friend on this day. People of all communities and even religions participate in this joyous and colouful festival and strenthen the secular fabric of the nation.

Flowers and Holi

Devotees dressed as Krishna and Radha danced and threw flowers on one another, drawing the attention of tourists towards the special style of enjoying the festival.

Days ahead of Holi, the festival was celebrated in Rajasthan’s Pushkar town in a special way by devotees of Krishna.
Holi, popularly known as the festival of colours, holds a distinct meaning in Pushkar and it is celebrated with flowers. It usually falls in the Hindu month of Phagun and is viewed as the harbinger of spring and new life.
Yesterday, local residents celebrated Holi with flowers instead of colours, as has been the general practice, while dancing to the beats of drums and devotional songs in praise of Krishna.
Artistes from various parts of the country gathered in Pushkar to perform Raas Leela (dance recitals depicting Krishna’s flirtatious interludes with village maidens).
Troupes of singers who render folk songs particularly associated with Holi also flocked to the town to participate in the festivities.
“On this occasion, we play Holi with flowers,” said Pawan Kumar, a local resident. “Artistes from various regions like Gwalior, Mumbai, and Jaipur gather here to take part in the celebrations. They perform dances based on Lord Krishna’s leela [deeds]. We also welcome the idol of Lord Ganesha with colours and decorate it. Later, we will play the Holi Phag Mausam with everybody. We play this every year and everybody takes part in the celebrations.”
Devotees dressed as Krishna and his beloved, Radha, danced and threw flowers on one another, drawing the attention of tourists towards the special style of enjoying the festival.
“I have been in Pushkar for the last two days and so far, my stay in this town has been great,” said Sara, an American tourist. “The dances, songs, people dressed as Lord Krishna are really beautiful. The people are very welcoming here. I really like it here. The way Krishna is dancing is good to watch. I wish I had some colours to throw on everybody.”

Holi celebrates the coming of spring and the harvest. It brings together people from all classes and age groups as they play with colours, distribute sweets, and take out processions.

Playing Holi with flowers also saves water, contamination and generally it is a clean and harmless fun Holi.

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