Here comes the spring and season of flowering has already begun in the beautiful state of Devbhoomi, Uttarakhand also known as the ‘Land of Gods‘. This marks the celebration of a folk festival in different parts of Uttarakhand, ‘Phool Dei‘. Phool means flower and ‘Dei’ is a ceremonial dish prepared on this occasion.
After long winters when the Himalayan snow slowly recedes away, the people of Uttarakhand celebrate the year’s harvest along with arrival of spring and seasonal blooming of Rhododendrons (Burans). Rhododendron is also the state tree of Uttarakhand.
Trees blossoming with vivid shades of red, yellow, white and pink in the forests. Rhododendrons (known as burans locally) and Reinwardtia sp.(phyuli), Kachnar (Bauhinia sp.) and many more. Phool Dei festival celebrates the close knit relationship between man and nature.
This festival is most enjoyed in the Himalayan villages where little children, specially young girls collect season’s first flowers of Phyunli, Buras and Basing from the forests. Later they keep the freshly collected flowers in ringaal (bamboo species) basket alongwith green leaves, jaggery, coconut to visit and greet people of the village. The children visit each house of the village and keep first flowers of the season on the doorsteps to bring good luck and blessings to the family and wish ‘Phool Dei’. Children are offered sweets and blessings for their act.
But the true essence of Phool Dei is slowly fading away with rapid urbanisation and globalisation where human being has transitioned and so his cultural and traditional values. In search of better livelihood opportunities rural people are migrating to cities and so the values, traditional knowledge are also migrating.
While we are busy celebrating major festivals, we have little importance to the age old traditional festivals like Phool Dei which celebrates the relationship between nature and mankind. Infact many folk festivals are slowly getting lost in the pages of history.
To commemorate this occasion, every year Annual spring festival is celebrated in Rajbhavan, Dehradun. Uttarakhand is rich in biodiversity of flowering plants. Efforts must be taken to promote lesser known wild forest flowers and ornamentals to pave way into the market, so as to boost horticultural and forestry market.
Efforts must be taken to familiarise and celebrate these festivals which focus on values and traditional customs before they are long lost in memories. Folk festivals acknowledge the values of the intricate relationship between mankind and forests and nature.
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