The Indian state of Uttarakhand located in the lap of the Himalayan range is blessed with all the abundance that nature has to offer. A wide variety of flora and fauna enrich the natural beauty of this state and it would be inappropriate to assess them in terms of natural resources thereby tying them down to an utilitarian ground based on wealth and prosperity alone. The people here are married to nature and consider themselves as a natural extension of the great Himalaya which is much more than a mountain to them- a God who shares their joy and sorrow and provide them with all that they ever need.
Phool Dei is a ritual harvest festival of North India which finds its utmost fulfillment in the state of Uttarakhand. Celebrated on the first day of the month of Chaitra of the Shaka calendar, Phool Dei is the festival of flowers and the coming of the spring time. The name Phool Dei derives from phool (flower) specially phyoli flower and dei (a customary pudding made from rice flour, ghee, curd and jaggery). In Indian mythology the feminine is identified with nature (nature being referred to as mother) and hence its no surprise that little girls are the most active participants of this festival. They make floral decorations on floor known as rangolis and carry flower, coconut and dei to the neighbouring household offering them the presents of flower and delicacies, praying for their prosperity and a bountiful harvest and singing the traditional “Phool Dei Chamma Dei’ song. They receive blessings, jaggery and money as a token of appreciation, gratitude and goodwill. The little girls also sprinkle flowers and rice on the doorstep and sing the “Phool Dei” song.
Phool Dei strengthens the communal bonding and the bonding with nature. It is not about individual prosperity but rather symbolizes the well-being of the Himalayan people as a whole and their harmony with nature. Local musicians welcome spring, the season of efflorescence and colors with their enchanting melodies are so very typical of Uttarakhand. The folk percussionists known as bajgi, auli and dholi spread the happiness of the Himalayas with their exhilarating beats. There is absolutely no room for monotony in a Himalayan village swinging to the good old harvest songs of their distant ancestors.
Married girls receive gifts from their parents in accordance to a tradition known as Bhitola. In this modern era where people move mountains with dynamites and excavators, Phool Dei is a glaring instance where the mountain moves people, not only in the physical sense but at heart. It’s a life time experience to be at Uttarakhand during Phool Dei, participate in the festival of flower and fruition and get the pulse of life on the Himalayas. Cultural theorists have related and compared Phool Dei with the Roman festival of flowers dedicated to the deity called Flora. Amidst the breathless business of modern times Phool dei stands apart along with other festivals of its league as a timeless ritual of timeliness; one has to experience it in order to realize its ripe and vital fullness tightly linked to organic bonding between the Himalayas and Himalayans.