The Hibiscus


Not so long ago, India celebrated the 10 day festival of Ganesha – the Obstacle Remover. The festival has many myths and stories associated with it. I would like to elucidate one of these – the use of the red hibiscus flower for worship. This is a common flower that grows on woody shrubs and does not have a particular flowering season, but I have noticed that they bloom in abundance in the wet season. That is perhaps why they are also used widely in the Ganesha festival which usually occurs in the middle of the Indian Monsoons. The green bush is dotted with dark green buds that slowly open up revealing a bit of the crimson red petals. The flower takes about 18 hours to fully blossom and showcase its bright red petals, as well as the maroon calyx. The buds that usually point upwards, start to sag downwards as the flower blooms, but not quite like a bell – it is still angularly facing downwards. Interestingly, this flower is also used in biology or science text books as the “real” flower, one that has 5 green sepals holding 5 coloured petals surrounding the stamen cum calyx with the stigma and anthers – that support the powdery yellow pollen. There are various species of the hibiscus that grow in India, the most common being the 5 petaled red one. Others commonly seen in gardens and parks include the white, pink and orange varieties as well as the multi-petaled thicker red hibiscus. Many devout Hindus go picking the large buds – ones that reveal the petals in a bind, during their evening walks and then store them in water-filled bowls. When left overnight, these blossom into flowers for the next morning prayers, pooja. Getting back to the myth on Ganesha – it is believed that one of the many forms of the Ganesha is the Kshipra Ganapathy (The Quick Acting Giver of Boons Ganesha) where He is resplendent in a deep red complexion like the hibiscus flower, and also holds the flower in his right hand. So people who worship Him with this flower will please him and get their quick responses to the boons sought.  

The hibiscus flower at D Street started its blossoming this morning. Initially it was a green bud, and then slowly it revealed its tightly bound reddish petals; so the market that opened flattish had quite a few green to show at 11 am and 12 noon; but thereafter as the reddish petals unfolded, the greens were hidden behind the large reds and SENSEX dipped into negative territory; not a nose dive, but an angular dip. The frenzy of the reds continued thereafter till it crossed 5 Hundred Points and finally settled at 491 points down taking the SENSEX down with its weight – 15404. This takes the SENSEX back to the Ganesha Festival Days (August) and I could see numerous D Boyz rushing to pluck, pick or even buy hibiscus as offering to the Quick Acting Giver of Boons. So before they get into office tomorrow morning, there are going to be surging crowds at Ganesha temples; in fact I can already see a long queue forming outside the famous Ganesha temple of Mumbai at Prabhadevi – Tuesday is auspicious for the God and some of the D Boyz have ducked their business convention at a Central Mumbai 5 Star hotel to rush to the temple instead (just a km away).

For atheists – The Finance Minister addressed a press conference this afternoon on the Indian economy and since he did not hawk India much in his speech, the D Boyz took it that he was getting hawkish; and so they used some talons to rip away the SENSEX and reveal its inner “real/red” self.

Whichever way you look at it, atheists turn god-fearing at times of adversity. How else could you explain a woman hopping from temple to temple and performing rituals for the longevity of her octogenarian husband, who was undergoing a spine surgery in Chennai; I have nothing against praying for the long life of an old man; I wish him well; I am intrigued though since this gent leads one the largest Atheist Bodies in Southern India. So while in adversity, anything goes, right? So D Boyz; you aren’t doing too bad!


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