Our tradition of offering flowers to god at temples and homes beats all logic. One can understand the desire to decorate the puja room. But raiding neighbours’ gardens and leaving flower trees in the park completely denuded, only to appease god, is definitely not done.
On the other hand, if one were to regularly buy flowers, including garlands, at the local flower sellers’, it would burn a neat hole in one’s pocket. A colleague, who lives close to a temple in Green Park, grumbled at the increasing number of “jayantis” of various gods and godesses being celebrated.
All this puja creates a massive traffic jam outside her house and leaves the place in a mess, she pointed out. However, she said, the other day, a young girl hired to assist in paper work, reported for work, eyes wide open in disbelief. She narrated how the flower sellers were vending rose garlands that were made so beautifully that she was tempted to buy one.
But the price of Rs 800 for each dissuaded her. Upon reaching the temple, the young girl noticed devotees with arm-loads of these garlands that were being draped on some ten-odd idols. Aghast at how people had so much money to spare, the girl wondered why the money could not be better spent to help some poor child. On the other hand, our colleague argued, the garlands were also part of a chain of people whose livelihood depended on them ~ farmers, wholesalers, garland makers and sellers.