The ritual of adorning deities in different attires, called ‘besha’, is hit because of acute shortage of flowers after the onslaught of cyclone Phailin and subsequent incessant rain.
The Jagannath temple in Puri, where priests perform 22 types of rituals and change the attire of the deities seven times every day, has also borne the brunt of flower scarcity.
“We need large quantities of flowers during the beshas, mostly in the morning and at night. But the supply of flowers has fallen by about 60%. We have been forced to make do with a small quantity of flowers,” said public relations officer of the temple Laxmidhar Pujapanda.
In the two gardens on the premises of Jagannath temple and another near Gundicha temple, flower saplings were damaged during the calamities. “We used to receive flowers from devotees. But that too has come down,” Pujapanda said.
Temples in Bhubaneswar had a similar tale to tell. “We are finding it difficult to get flowers as the prices have gone up. Devotees are not being able to afford them,” said Gopal Makadam, a priest at Lingaraj temple.
Prices of most of the flowers, including the commonly-used marigold, tuberose, rose, lotus and jasmine, have risen sharply due to poor production in the state.
Another reason for the price rise is attributed to short supply of flowers from Kolkata because of communication problems in the wake of the floods.
While at other times marigold garlands sell for Rs 5 to Rs 10 a piece, they now cost Rs 40 to 50. A tuberose garland is now selling for Rs 250, while a kilo of tuberoses was sold at Rs 700 at some places here on Friday.
“Flower requirements here are mostly met from Howrah and Deolia regions of West Bengal. Flowers worth Rs 2 lakh are sold in the city every day. But this has fallen due to shortage in supply,” said president of Bhubaneswar Florists’ Association Bibhuti Swain. “The shortage is taking its toll on the festive season,” Swain said.
Director (horticulture) Sanjeev Chadha said steps were being taken to encourage flower cultivation in the state. “Around 5 lakh flower farmers have been affected by the cyclone and floods. Major flower growing areas such as Ganjam, Boudh, Keonjhar and the outskirts of Bhubaneswar have been badly hit. We will distribute flower saplings and seeds of different species free of cost to farmers,” Chadha said.