FLOWER ARTIST Prem Kumar (36) makes a trip every year from Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu to Matunga’s “phoolgalli”. Before the Ganpati festival begins, Kumar arrives in the city to prepare decorative boards with flowers for the Ganpati pandal in Matunga lane,
also known as the flower vendors’ lane.
“The themes of the designs are communicated to us before we come here. We are specifically called to place the flowers on the design boards,” said Kumar, who makes flower decorations for weddings back home.
Five flower artists are called from Tirunelveli every year to design the flower boards around the Ganpati idol of “phoolgalli”.
For the past 44 years, these artists have been making the flower decorations — it could be elephants or peacocks to Ganpati idols — around the pandal.
“Only specific flowers are used besides lots of bamboo. Each decoration is changed every three days,” said Babu Iyer, coordinator of
“A sketch of the design is sent to the artists a month before the festival begins. We only trust these guys for the work as it is their primary job in the south and they have long experience of it. Till now, no artists from Mumbai have been called for decorating the boards with flowers,” he added.
At least 500 kg of flowers are used for a single decoration. Getting the color combination and proportion right is vital.
“It is similar to making a building. Each flower used needs to be precise and proportionate to the design carved. Everything needs to be perfect. While our work here fetches a bit more than what we could earn down south, it is devotion towards the deity that brings us here,” Kumar added.
The Ganpati pandal in “phoolgalli” is an initiative of the flower retailers’ association in Matunga, comprising 100 flower sellers in the area.
Iyer said the total cost of organising the festival comes to around Rs 2.5 lakh.
“Through discussions, we arrive on the Ganpati’s theme for that year. Though our budget is not very big, we try to make do with it. The main aim is to make the eleven days of the festival memorable,” said Suppvia Petichai (58), president of the association.