Morning glory at Mullick Ghat

| Updated on March 12, 2020

The Mullick Ghat flower market at dawn is unique to Kolkata

A short walk through Mullick Ghat on the banks of the Hooghly River in Kolkata is a photographer’s delight. Established over 160 years ago, the ghat is home to India’s largest flower market, located adjacent to one of the most famous bridges in India.

The recently held Hooghly flower fest showed it off in all its glory. Entering the market, we made our way past the many makeshift stalls. The tiny, brightly painted stalls are covered by colourful tarpaulin sheets, for protection from sun and rain. The sheets unobtrusively diffuse the morning light, casting warm and cool filters over the world of garlands.

Here rajanigandha (tuberose) is sold by the kilo, and marigold garlands can weigh 10 kg each. The most beautiful part, for me, was the simplicity of the flowers sold at the market — marigold, red roses, dahlias, hibiscus — matching the simplicity and beauty of the flower vendors, some of whom have been in the trade for generations. There are no hybrid roses or exotic orchids here, instead only those flowers that have been intrinsically linked to the local culture for a long time. From the offerings for last rites, many performed right next to the market, to wedding night topors (headgear for the groom), curtains and other floral decor, to large garlands for deities, there are rows and rows of stalls for flowers for all occasions.

Not just a flower show, to me it is also a show of leaves. Available here is a vast variety of leaves — some used for certain religious ceremonies and rituals, others to fashion fancy bouquets. Without them, most occasions are not complete and nor is the flower market.

(The writer was part of the Hooghly flower fest tour conducted by Calcutta photo tours’ Manjit Singh Hoonjan.)

Ishita Das is a US-based freelance writer and photographer

Published on March 12, 2020

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