February, often called the “month of love ” has begun and keeping that in mind, I wanted to write about something different. I was really interested to explore the roots from where the flowers are procured in Delhi by various florists. Valentines Day, over the past few years has been known for a tremendous boom in the floriculture industry of India where sale of flowers have multiplied by the year. It’s interesting to note that Valentines day sales increase not only during “Valentines Week” which begins on February 7th, but in fact from the beginning of the month itself.
I decided to visit the The Mehurali Phool Mandi (“Phool” – Flower, “Mandi” – Market) , also known as the Chattarpur Phool Mandi (located very close to the Chhattarpur Temple ) a couple of days ago. This mandi is a smaller counter part of the Ghazipur Pool Mandi (close to Anand Vihar ISBT) which is the biggest whole sale flower market in the city. The Mehrauli Phool Mandi opens up by 5 am and for the next five hours or so florists from all across the city are taking part in the ‘Boli’ or bidding process. This is when vendors buy flowers at whole sale prices. One does see some enthusiasts and customers wading their way through but nothing before 9 am. The mandi, post 11 am changes it’s self as small non-farmer vendors start putting up their stalls opening up to a whole new cliental.
I reached the Mandi at 6 am and it was really dark but that didn’t stop any one from getting to work and starting the sales of the day. Lit with numerous tungsten bulbs hanging in every nook and corner, the little market was bright and buzzing. On one side lay some bedding and sweaters kept away on a make shift shelf below which lay bed of flowers – red, yellow and white. The two walls on the side creating an enclosed space were rusty and yellow with numbers scribbled all over. The walls also had an eclectic display of a number of religious calendars which added to the dynamics of the place.
As soon as one enters the Mandi, the first thing that strikes one’s eyes is the absolute lack of women anywhere in and around the area. It’s a completely male dominated market from beginning to end. Whether it may be the men weaving flower garlands or little boys weighing rose petals in huge sacks. What’s interesting to note is that the flowers come from not only across the Country (Himachal Pradesh, Nasik, Bangalore) but also from some South East Asian Countries such as Thaliand and China. The mandi is an absolute visual delight with lilies, orchids, chrysanthemums, gerberas and endless other variety of flowers put up on display. When asked, I was told that February is one of the busiest months in the year! The prices in this mandi are a true bargain where Roses (gulaab) for example can be bought at Rs.5 per piece and lilies for just Rs. 25 a piece (versus Rs. 150/piece anywhere else). The sale of Marigolds (Gende ka phool) are always in demand all year round whether it may be people procuring them for temples, weddings or festivals, this flower is an all time favorite.
The Mandi also has it’s resident chai wala who’s masala chai with rusk and bread pakodas one just cant say no to while taking a break from the flower shopping. If you’re looking for extreme bargains for bulk orders and a larger collection of flowers from all across the I’d suggest visiting the Ghazipur Phool Mandi (opens up at 3 30 am). The Mehruali Phool Mandi, on the other hand, with its quirks should be on your must visit list irrespective if you wanting to indulge in a flower shopping spree.
Hope you enjoy the pictures