At present, I’m out of the garden. Instead, I’m in an apartment in Mumbai, visiting my 92 year old father after a very long, heart aching, stress filled 18 month long separation. Needless to say, the reunion is emotional. I feel really grateful. The fact that we’re still in the pandemic cannot be forgotten. It comes with continuing worries and concerns. It is at times such as these when we feel tested. It’s easy to understand why so many hold on to their faith. Belief in a higher power or energy to guide us through difficult times, provides much needed comfort, courage, hope and strength. As a species, we humans set much in store by the presence of something bigger than our collective selves. It’s hard to be positive about the future without that belief in something bigger than ourselves.
These are the thoughts that went through my mind as I sat in traffic yesterday – we were held up due to flooding caused by the powerful rains that have been pounding the region. The monsoon season this year has been particularly fierce. Waiting for passage, watching vehicles and pedestrians wading through the water trying to get to their destinations was of great human interest. How resilient we are in our determination to get on with it. At the same time, I watched vendors of flower garlands for ceremonial worship (and also to be hung up from the rear-view mirrors for good luck/the Almighty’s protection) taking advantage of the traffic jam. They approached the cars with the colorful, fragrant garlands of marigolds, calendula and jasmine and I observed several purchases exchange hands. Some were promptly hung up. Despite the frustrations and delays caused by the weather and Covid restrictions, there was always time and need to obtain floral offerings to appease the gods.
There was something very comforting about witnessing this scene. All over the world flowers are used in religious expression. We celebrate as well as mourn with flowers. Flowers give comfort and joy. We adorn ourselves, our homes and our places of worship with them.
My father likes to have freshly picked flowers to place on the little alter he has in his home. The platter of these blooms waiting each morning to be offered up has always been a sight that brings me a sense of calm. Knowings his prayers will certainly include my well-being is reassuring. The faith that all will be fine. Flower power with a higher calling.
(c) 2021 Shobha Vanchiswar