A thousand words cannot convey what a delicate rose can, to win someone’s heart. When all words fail, a fragrant bouquet is the best gift one can give to a loved one. It can even do wonders for the ill. Whatever the occasion, say it with flowers.
Flowers have their own significance in every culture. In the west, flowers of various colours are chosen for different occasions. White flowers given to the bride and groom is an old tradition, while red flowers signify love and affection. When condoling with someone, a person usually presents the family with a white bouquet.
There was a time when there were not many flower shops in Pakistan and the people would ask the mali working in the garden next door to make a small bouquet. However, times have changed since. A number of flower sellers have set up their shops in the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad. Islamabad’s civic body, the Capital Development Authority (CDA), has allocated the florists, who used to do their business at various open spaces, permanent shops close to Super Market, Jinnah Super Market and F-10 Markaz. A host of buyers, from all walks of life, come to these tin-roofed outlets to buy flowers and bouquets.
“All sorts of people come to our shops for various occasions and reasons buy flowers,” said Shaukat Ayub at the Super Market’s flower market, now being renovated by a cellular phone company. There are ten flower shops close to Super Market, which the CDA allotted to the florists in 1997.
Most flowers come from Punjab’s town of Pattoki and include roses, lilies, irises, tuberoses, daffodils and gladiolas. Others are imported from Dubai and Holland and are consequently expensive than local flowers. Shaukat, whose father and grandfather were also florists, took over his family’s business in 1992 and has since learned a few tricks of the trade. “There is no fixed price for a bouquet. We quote the price we think the customer can pay,” he said.
A few years ago, very few people knew what Valentine’s Day was, but thanks to new television channels and the media, florists have a roaring business a few days before Valentine’s Day. “This is the time of year when most of us do really well and majority of customers are young boys and girls,” said a florist in the F-10 market. The prices of bouquets are generally such that the bigger the bouquet the more the price. Add a few flowers of imported varieties and the price may jump to over Rs 1,000.
In Rawalpindi, the major flower centre is at Banni, but mostly deals in garlands, rose petals and supplies in bulk to retail shops. Others are located on Saidpur Road, Commercial Centre Satellite Town, Lalkurti and Saddar.
“We do make bouquets, but they are not in high demand in the area. Most people come here to buy garlands and flower petals for various occasions,” said Muhammad Najeeb at Banni, who has been in the flower business for the 20 years. The florists at Banni have one speciality – decorating cars. “People come here to decorate the groom’s car from far-off areas, sometimes even Attock and Chakwal,” Najeeb said. The cost of a well-decorated car ranges from Rs 1500 to Rs 4000, depending upon the customer’s desire or individual florist’s aesthetics. A simply decorated car has rose buds, both real and artificial, and the leaves of Sarve attached all around with the sticky tape. While more elaborate decoration includes brightly coloured ribbons, streamers, confetti and may also include a basket of flowers perched atop the roof or bonnet. During the holy months of Muharram and Ramadan, the florists also sell flower petals and garlands in huge quantity when people visit the graves of their relatives. In fact, makeshift flower kiosks are found outside most of the graveyards in Rawalpindi.