Culture

A Day at the Srirangam Flower Market

By Pravin Shekar

A Day at the Srirangam Flower Market

Close to the South Indian city of Trichy lies the temple town of Srirangam. Follow our travelsmith as he walks around the flower market with his camera.

Words & Photography:  Pravin Shekar, travel 3Sixty° travelsmith

Close to the big temple in Srirangam is a street that also doubles up as a flower market. Vendors, merchants, couriers and shoppers abound, as the occasional bicycle and moped (two-wheeler) honk and squeeze by.

This is not on any tourist trail but a must-do for those looking to do something different. Walk up and down the market, observe and notice the flow, the passion and the smiles.

I was welcomed with puttu, a popular traditional South Indian breakfast, from a cart at the flower market entrance. What a way to start a photo shoot!

When visiting South India, make sure you try puttu, which is served with a variety of vegetarian and non-vegetarian side dish options.
When visiting South India, make sure you try puttu, which is prepared with rice flour and coconut, and served with a variety of vegetarian and non-vegetarian side dish options.
A flower vendor sells loose flowers. The bulk of his clientele are all around him — the garland makers.
A flower vendor sells loose flowers. The bulk of his clientele are all around him — the garland makers.
Lotus buds and a range of flowers, locally grown as well as imported from other cities and states. Lotus has special significance for the god Vishnu. It is said that the Lotus arose from the navel of Lord Vishnu and at its centre sat Lord Brahma, the creator of the universe.
Lotus buds and a range of flowers, both locally grown and imported from other cities and states. Lotus has special significance for the god Vishnu. It is said that the Lotus arose from the navel of Lord Vishnu and at its centre sat Lord Brahma, the creator of the universe.
Transactions in progress: delivery of flowers as well as payments made for another purchase. No credit cards here, sir, just cash! Flower deliveries are made in gunny bags and plastic sacks.
Transactions in progress: delivery of flowers as well as payments made for another purchase. No credit cards here, sir, just cash! Flowers are delivered in gunny bags and plastic sacks.
Different positions to thread the flowers together. Different ways to sit as well! Closely notice how this threader is using the toes of his feet to hold the thread.
Different positions to thread the flowers together. Different ways to sit as well! Notice how the threader on the right is using his toes to hold the thread.
A closer look at the work: Hands and feet, thread and flower; patient work. Watching him thread the flowers is therapeutic, the speed and grace with which he goes about it! I spent a few minutes just watching the process - then smiled and asked for permission to shoot him, which he allowed, with another smile and nod of his head.
Hands and feet, thread and flower—patient work. Watching him thread the flowers is therapeutic. Just look at the speed and grace with which he goes about it! I spent a few minutes just watching the process—then smiled and asked for permission to shoot him, which he allowed with another smile and a nod.
Ladies and gents alike, involved in all the processes of flower sales. These ladies are sorting out the banana stems based on length. These banana stems are cut into strips and used to form a base for garlands. All natural here!
Ladies and gents alike are involved in all the processes of flower sales. These ladies are sorting out the banana stems based on length. These banana stems are cut into strips and used to form a base for garlands. All natural here!
A garland in progress. This one is a combination of three: the white Jasmine and the green leaves of two plants.
A garland in progress. This one is a combination of white jasmine and the leaves of two plants.
Teamwork. Smiles come out for the camera! This group went about their work, with jokes, comments and smiles. Work continued unabated as each had a target to meet.
Smiles come out for the camera! This group went about their work with jokes, chit-chat and smiles. Work continued unabated as each had a target to meet.
Rose petals strung together.... work in progress for a different variety of garland: Pure rose!
Rose petals strung together for a different variety of garland: pure rose!
What happens when scissors run dull? Enter the knife-sharpener with his all-manual pedal-based sharpening tool. He is positioned in the middle of the market but is highly mobile and can be hailed by a shop keeper.
What happens when scissors run dull? Enter the knife-sharpener with his all-manual pedal-based sharpening tool. He is positioned in the middle of the market but is highly mobile and can be hailed by a shop keeper.
As the heat turns up, the market winds down. A view of a part of the crowded street, with individual shoppers along with wholesalers and retailers.
As the heat turns up, the market winds down. A view the crowded street, with individual shoppers along with wholesalers and retailers.
What a delivery..... Flowers bought at the wholesale market making their way to retail stores in other parts of the city.
What a delivery! Flowers bought at the wholesale market making their way to retail stores in other parts of the city on two wheels.
And the finished products hang on wooden stands with the shopkeeper counting her revenue since morning.
And the finished products hang on wooden stands with the shopkeeper counting her revenue for the day.
All sales done in this shop and the garland-hang stand lies empty. For another day, another set of garlands and further sales.
All sales done in this shop and the garland stand lies empty for another day, another set of garlands and further sales.

The Srirangam flower market has been in existence for over a hundred years, and the cycle will go on, drawing devotees and observers like you and me.

GETTING THERE AirAsia flies to Trichy (Tiruchirappalli) from Kuala Lumpur. For flight schedules and fares, visit airasia.com.

About the Author

Pravin Shekar

Pravin Shekar is a parallel entrepreneur, startup specialist and raconteur passionate about travelling, networking and photography. He has won the Grand Prize in the National Geographic Traveler magazine–Uttarakhand tourism photography competition. His work has been published in the Deccan Chronicle and Lonely Planet magazine.

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