Thursday, April 7, 2011

Morning glory: Dadar Phool Market

There is a method in the madness. And I can only say that now, after I made my much awaited visit to the flower market in Dadar. I did know that the crowds that make up for the buyer-seller community belie the fact that the sun is yet to wake up. What I didn't know was that by the time I got to the place, which was around 6 in the morning, much of the 'maal' or goods had already been sold out! Nonetheless, I was witness to the frenzy that is Dadar Phool Market at dawn, nestled in a noisy, narrow alley by a railway station in Central Mumbai. Here are some of my experiences in pictures.



Competitors standing at whispering distance from one another, showing off their best garlands. These garlands are woven with cotton thread, and use 'mogra' or jasmine and the firecracker flower or 'aaboli', along with fragrant leaves to add colour. This style of garland weaving is commonly found in South India, and is traditionally used by South Indian temples and homes in Mumbai.




A quick tea break between shouting matches for this seller... nothing like a strong cup of tea or 'kadak chai' to wake up the best of us! She was selling the Yellow Indian Marigold or 'shewanti', a flower popular for its bright hue. The shewanti is used to weave larger garlands, and can be bought by the kilo for a relatively low price as compared to the other flowers.  




This boy undoubtedly made my day - and quite early in the day at that! He had a basket full of purple daisies on sale, just like any other of his vendor friends... but what set him apart was his smile. A warm, calm smile that hid any traces of a childhood lost in labour. We asked him if he went to school, and he replied in the positive. Win!       




Cords that bind. This seller is probably the most sought-after guy - he is the only one who sells threads (used to weave garlands) to nearly the entire market! Seen in the foreground are flowers that set the frame afire... yellow and orange marigold.   




Apart from 'loose' flowers and garlands, shredded flowers or petals are also in high demand. These come a little cheaper than the flowers themselves; in fact, rose petals get sold out the most thanks to their uses in cooking, medicine and so on. Shredded marigold flowers come next, which are used to make flower rangolis or as (budget) offerings in temples.    




I couldn't resist the lure of these daisies, and finally bought myself a dozen. But not without haggling with the vendor.... I could not have broken the tradition of bargaining for a few rupees before the buyer and seller settle down for a price that makes them both smile. Much like the goods of their trade.  

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