It’s customary for most people to decorate their homes with marigold garlands on Diwali day. With the festival just around the corner (October 30), we visited the Dadar flower market on Senapati Bapat Marg at 11am on a busy day. The place is abuzz with activity almost round the clock, especially during this time of the year. Hoping to witness and experience the madness that goes around this place on a daily basis, we got a peek into the lives of the people who frequent it, especially the numerous vendors who make a living out of selling flowers.
Delivers flowers, 60
Daundkar earns around `10,000 per month by delivering garlands to at least 200 households in Dadar on a daily basis. “I have fixed clients, who purchase garlands from me everyday. I buy flowers from the market early in the morning. I spend the day making garlands, and I deliver them in the evening. I cycle several kilometers every day. But it feels special to follow the same routine during Diwali,” says Baburao.
Photographer and a part-time flower vendor, 26
Khadekar, who is a media graduate and a photographer, is honing his business skills under the guidance of his father. “For the past 20 years, my father has been in the flower business. I help him whenever I get time. Diwali is a hectic time for us. I love the feel of the beautiful festival. But we should be sensible and avoid crackers as Mumbai is already too polluted. Let us become a little more humane, and think about others this Diwali,” says Khadekar.
Flower seller, 26
Every day, Anita sets up her small stall just outside the market, and runs her family of five by selling flowers. She says, “My work starts when tempos carrying flowers enter the market around 1am every day. I am done making garlands by 4am. We don’t earn much on regular days, but we make between `1,000 and `1,200 a day during festivals. Festivals bring joy to us as we earn more. If I earn well this Diwali, I will buy new cloths for my kids,” says the hard-working mother of three.
Flower vendor, 40
On a good day, Shinde sells his stock by the afternoon. On days when business is low, he stays back until he sells all the flowers. This means he works till 11pm on most days. The market is not shut even for a day throughout the year. He says there is always a festive feel in the market because he is surrounded by flowers the whole day. During Diwali, he returns home by 12am. He adds, “My kids wait for me and we do the Diwali puja only after I reach home.”
A regular buyer, 56
Tukaram, who works at a bank in Dadar, buys flowers from the market everyday, except on weekends and on days when he is not at work. He has been following this routine since the past five years. “I come here every day to buy flowers for my morning and evening puja. This has become a practice now. You get fresh flowers at nominal rates. here. For Diwali, I’ll buy flowers from here a day in advance. I just want everybody’s Diwali to be good,” says Tukaram.