Surjeet Singh 35, came to Delhi 12 years ago from Basirhat, West Bengal. Like most people in his native place, he wanted to start a flower shop in the Capital.
He is one of the hundreds of people from this West Bengal town who came to Delhi to sell flowers.
For Delhiites, flowers are part and parcel of their lives. “I have initiated several friends and family members into the flower business here in Delhi,” says Surjeet who runs a makeshift flower shop in Vasundhara Enclave.
Surjeet is not exaggerating. Delhi is the biggest market in Asia in terms of flower consumption. When it comes to the volume of flower trade too, the city is second only to Shanghai.
“Delhi has 7,000 retail flower outlets, while Mumbai has around 4,000,” says Jafar Naqvi, editor of Floriculture Today and president, Indian Flowers and Ornamental Plants Welfare Association.
“The NCR’s total retail flower business is around Rs 1,000 crore annually,” Naqvi adds.
Be it Friendship Day, Father’s Day, or the New Year, Delhiites like to say and celebrate it with lots of flowers. “We have outlets in all major cities of the country including Mumbai, Chennai, and Bangalore. But it’s Delhi that tops the lot in flower sales,” says Prakash Ranguta, general manager of the Ferns ’n’ Petals chain of flower stores.
“The flower consumption in Delhi is growing at a whopping 40 per cent per year,” he adds.
The sales figure are mind-boggling: on an average, flowers worth Rs 50 lakh are sold in Delhi every day. Industry insiders say that on Valentine’s Day, the sale of flowers is Rs 1.5 - 2 crore — much higher than any city in Asia. “I have several customers who buy flowers worth Rs 1,000 every month to display in their drawing rooms,” says Surjeet.
Delhi is the nerve-centre of the country’s botanical trade, with flowers arriving here from all parts of the country, and abroad too.
The flower market in front of Hanuman Mandir is perhaps the largest in Asia. This market provides the bulk of flowers for all high-profile marriages in the country. It also provided flowers for the much-hyped Abhishek Bachchan-Aishwarya Rai wedding held on 20 April 2007
And the flowers that have the most power in Delhi, are roses, followed by gladioli, carnations and lilies.