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Nov 20, 2011
Phoolwalon Ki Sair Dangal
A festival celebrating the flower sellers of Delhi is bound to be colorful, but the annual “Phoolwalon ki Sair” in the village of Mehrauli is also noteworthy because of its long history and its greater purpose of bringing Hindus and Muslims closer together.
The festival began about 200 years ago and continued until the waning days of colonial rule, when the British put an end to it because they worried about Hindus and Muslims joining together in the struggle for independence.
In the early 1960s, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru revived the fair with the help of Padma Shree Late Yogeshwar Dayal, a member of one of the oldest and richest families of Delhi. Since his death, Ms Usha Kumar has continued the tradition.
The fair today, which is free for all to attend, has lots to offer – all kinds of food, a Ferris wheel and games for kids. There’s traditional dancing, kite flying – where 150 kites would be flown at once, kabaddi, and of course, wrestling.
One of the highlights is a show of goodwill between Hindus and Muslims. Hindus go to the shrine of renowned Muslim Sufi Bakhtiyar Kaki and lay a sheet of flowers called “foolon ki chaddar” over the tomb and Muslims reciprocate the friendly gesture by visiting the temple of Yogmaya and offering a flowery umbrella called “chatra”. I only wish this kind of festival could be held throughout India to showcase what the country is known for – a vibrant, colorful culture where people of all religion can live together peacefully.
Mr. G.S. Gulati, who for the past two decades has been organizing the wrestling event told me that each winning wrestler would receive a minimum of Rs 50/- prize and a maximum of 5000/- as the event was mainly for younger wrestlers. He told me that the final match would be fought between the best wrestlers in the dangal.
There were a number of wrestling bouts held for kids and they collected lots of prizes, which made them all very happy. A great young wrestler named Moughli won four matches. A wrestler from Mehrauli named Deepak pinned his opponent in seconds and the crowd erupted in cheers. He collected a lot of money as the spectators celebrated the victory of a local boy.
The first prize match was between Gullu Pahalwan and a wrestler from Fatehpur Akhara. The match went on for more than 30 minutes and ended in a draw as the wrestlers were getting exhausted.
The chief guest at the dangal was Pandit Yoganand Shastri the prominent leader and Hindu Brahmin who is also the president of the Phoolwalon ki Sair. He was honored with a fan of flowers and posed for pictures with the Holy Kaba of Muslims and one side and a picture of the goddess Durga on the other. He inaugurated the bouts of kushti and kabaddi and also distributed the prizes to wrestlers.
The organizers were: Ms Usha Kumar and Chairman of Sports Committee Mr. B.S. Gulati.
Other officials: Yogesh Gupta, Ram Avtar, Paras Saini, Jain Sahab Referees: Satveer Pahlwan, Kamal Pahlwan, Dhannu Pahlwan, Dhanna.
The S.H.O and other officers of the Mehrauli Police Station were responsible for security arrangements. The officers were present throughout the dangal and made sure everything went smoothly. Gulati ji, one of the organiser, asked one of the police officers, to inaugurate a bout, which he readily agreed to.