By Y.S.Rana ,Chandigarh :Thousands of visitors from all walks of life showed up at the three-day annual Rose Festival which concluded in Chandigarh on Sunday, to waft in the fragrance of blooming blooms in
the Rose Garden, but few spared a thought for the ‘malis’ who toil day in and day out, for months at stretch, to make the event possible.
These are the earthy gardeners who wallow in earth in sun and shower to preserve and maintain the beauty of the Rose Garden round the year, tending and nursing each plant like a child, to enable the visitors to
enjoy the blooms in varied colours of the spectrum.
The three-day globally famous Rose Festival combined festivity with feastivity, ringing in moolah for the UT Administration which had stacked up 50-odd stalls and rented these out to exhibitors and food
servers, including hoteliers for the mega event. Among others, CITCO too was at play dishing out delicious delicacies, and drawing visitors to the dinning tables in large numbers. Live performances by artistes
like Hans Raj Hans, Privani Vani, Rishika Kaushal, Uday Dahiya, Mohgit Chauhan added to the flavor of the food.
But all these days of the event, Devta Deen, Kaka Singh, Parvati, Mahinder Singh and scores of their ilk, the men who made the show possible, and worth it, were nowhere to be seen. When traced and contacted, Devta Deen and Kaka Singh who have been nurturing the Rose Garden for the past 30 long years, told this reporter, “For the
people, the Rose Festival may be an annual event, but for us, it is everyday affair. Initially, it was just a source of bread and butter, but slowly and steadily, we fell in love with these plants and developed affection for the roses just us human beings have it for their kids,” they said.
Devta and Kaka are not alone. There are about two dozen others like them who slog day in and day out, that too in anonymity, to make the Rose Garden look as it does, and draw ever increasing footfalls and eyeballs. These unlettered, unsung and toiling ‘malis’ of the Horticulture Department of UT Administration, not only give the
gardens and parks a presentable look round the year, but have also brought Chandigarh on the global map for its spacious, beautiful, well-planned and well preserved gardens.
“It requires six months time to prepare the roses for this annual event and when people praise our work, we feel satisfied,” said Devta and Kaka. In fact, they and their fellow gardeners are the real heroes behind the rose plants, petals and the blooms without whose tender care and contribution, the blooms would not bloom, and the event would be a non-event.
They do everything, right from preparing the beds to nurturing young saplings and ensuring that these grow into healthy plants and throw up eye-catching blooms. They virtually work as foster parents for the rose plants, stated an official of Horticulture Department of the UT Administration.
The Rose Garden, set up over 46 acres way back in 1967, is the largest in Asia. Consisting of more than 17,000 plants and about 593 varieties of roses, the Chandigarh Administration has added 275 new
varieties to the list. Obsolete varieties have been phased out. The garden has not only gorgeous roses but also trees of medicinal value such as ‘bel,’ ‘behera,’ ‘harar.’ ‘campho’ and ‘yellow gulmohar.’
An official of the Horticulture Department, Chandigarh Administration, admitted that the ‘malis’ had been doing a stupendous job in maintaining the gardens and parks in Chandigarh, making them wear a flowery look throughout the year.