A bright, sunny Friday made for an appropriate inaugural of the annual Chandigarh Rose Festival, a three-day event that lures visitors from across the region. However, the 42nd edition of the fest disappointed many with its not-so-rosy picture.
In the Zakir Hussian Rose Garden, Sector 16, Chandigarh, which was created by Mohinder Singh Randhawa, then chief commissioner, to dedicate a large area especially to roses - the area is ironically devoid of the beauty of nature. On the opening day of the fest that is organised by the Chandigarh Administration and Municipal Corporation, Chandigarh, at the Zakir Hussain Rose Garden and the Leisure Valley in Sector 10, Chandigarh, there was much fanfare, folk dance competitions, bands playing, contests for the titles of Ms & Mr Rose Chandigarh, the event's main focus was somehow on what were originally events on the sidelines.
Rimpy, a Chandigarh-based housewife, who is a regular visitor to the fest, was evidently disappointed. "One gets to see a rush of visitors, but the excitement is surely not the same anymore. Perhaps the reason behind this is that nothing new has been offered in many years now. Foreign countries have such beautiful and different flowers, but here there is nothing of the sort. Such a fest should aim at introducing new varieties of flowers," she says, adding that her children's interest in the fest was diminishing further.
Meanwhile, AK Malhotra, general manager, Chandigarh Tourism, says their focus this time had been on adding more colour to the festival via cultural items. "Every year, we make sure we add a little colour to the festival. This year, some of the major attractions were the floral hat competition, a piano performance and Haseya Kavi Sammelan. The floral hat competition saw almost 50 entries with participants decorated hats with real or artificial flowers," he informs.
On being asked the reason for the fest's deteriorating popularity, an official, on condition of anonymity, said, "There is indeed a lot of difference in the way the festival is organised. We witness lesser crowds now comprising mostly of people from outside Chandigarh."