Lesson 32: Phoolwalon Ki Sair

Phool Waalon Ki Sair meaning “procession of the florists” is an annual celebration. It is a three-day festival, generally held in the month of September. Hindus and Muslims together offer the floral chaadar and pankha at the dargah of Khwaja Bakhtiar ‘Kaaki’ in Mehrauli, and floral ‘pankha’ (fan) and ‘chhatra’ (canopy) are offered at the ancient temple of Devi Yogmaya, also in Mehrauli. Dancers lead a procession on the streets carrying flower pankhas made of palm leaves decorated with shiny flecks. Shehnai players accompany the floral procession. Kathak dancers and qawwals also perform. The cultural programme of the festival of Phool Waalon ki Sair is held at Jahaz Mahal, in Mehrauli.

The festival is being celebrated since 1812. Phool Waalon Ki Sair began with the reign of the Mughal King, Akbar Shah II. He wanted to nominate his younger son, Mirza Jehangir to the throne. But Jehangir was exiled by the British to Allahabad. His mother vowed to offer a ‘chadar’ of flowers at the dargah of Khwaja Bakhtiar ‘Kaki’ at Mehrauli, upon his release. When he was released, the queen went to Mehrauli to fulfil her vow. The Mughal king was tolerant and secular, and under his orders, floral offerings in the shape of a pankha were offered at the famous Yogmaya Temple. For 7 days, all sorts of merrymaking continued in Mehrauli, with jhoolas (swings) cock fighting and kite flying, wrestling and swimming bouts.

The festival is held each year after the rains, and people of all communities offer pankha and chadar at the Dargah of Khwaja Bakhtiar Kaki, and floral offerings at Yogmayaji temple.

The festival was stopped by the British in 1942, during the Quit India movement. However, it was revived by Jawaharlal Nehru, in 1962, and has continued since then. Phool Waalon ki Sair is an important cultural event, fulfilling a vision of communal harmony and national integration.

 A) Vocabulary

procession – line of people or vehicles moving forward in order.
florist – a person who grows or sells flowers.
nominate – choose as a candidate
exile – force someone to leave one’s country or home
vow – a solemn or deep promise.
tolerant – to be fair to and understanding of people who are different.
secular – not connected with religion
bouts – contests/competitions of strength
revive – to bring back to life or to consciousness or to health
integration – combining into a whole

B) Discussion.
Use as many of the above words to describe a festival/monument.

C) Please research an unusual festival of India, on the Internet, and write about it.