Celebrating the arrival of spring, a time of joy and new beginnings, has since time immemorial centred on the sharing of seasonal flowers. They are used as gifts for near and dear ones, worn in the form of hair accessories, garlands and bracelets and used to ornament homes and places of worship.
Many spring festivals, religious or otherwise, are usually floriferous in some shape and form. These include Nauroze, which marks the Persian New Year (March 21), as does the Hindu festival of Holi, which will coincidentally be celebrated on Pakistan Day this year (March 23), a special day for all Pakistanis, irrespective of their religion.
Nauroze and Holi have flowers indelibly woven into their fabric.
Nauroze is celebrated by Parsis as well as people from Iran, Afghanistan and a few tribes in northern Pakistan. It is a seed and flower filled celebration, during which sprouted grains (wheat is a favourite) are prepared and cooked in traditional dishes. Dressed in new clothes, people exchange gifts of tulips and hyacinths to encourage a fertile year to come. They also decorate their homes with fragrant garlands of roses and jasmine – incidentally, the latter is Pakistan’s National Flower.
Holi, also known as the festival of colours, due to the brightly hued dyes that participants enjoy throwing over each other, is also celebrated with flowers serving as a central theme. Traditional marigolds, jasmine and roses are used to decorate homes, temples – and people as well.
The brightly coloured dyes are, where tradition is adhered too, usually made with flowers or other natural ingredients; green from henna and gulmohars; yellow from turmeric and marigolds; blue from jacarandas and grapes; magenta and purple from beetroots; brown from tea and black from amaltas and soot.
– B. Khan