February 7 is a day of “Queen of Flowers”-Puri
Jaswant Singh Puri/ February 7,2023
Rose has been bestowed as the queen of flowers for its aesthetic value since ancient times. It kick starts the mood for celebration of love that falls on the 7th February every year. Its beauty and fragrance has inspired many poets to compose poems of love and romance. But it has more to offer than beauty and fragrance. Perhaps nothing can beat the mood a rose can create. Rose Day concept is of Western origin but now, it is celebrated in India with enthusiasm. It strikes an opportunity for the youngsters to forge new friendships and express their feelings to their boyfriends, girl friends and relatives.
Rose stands for romantic love, passion, appreciation, joy, kindness. Red rose implies love and passion, yellow rose suggests warmth and jovial mood. Pink rose connotes cheerfulness, grace and gentleness. Dark pink rose is suggestive of appreciation and gratitude. White rose signifies innocence and purity while lavender rose expresses love at first sight. Orange rose shows brightness, glow, energy, passion and excitement.
Roses are also known for healing properties. In particular, the rose acts as a metaphor for inner peace and happiness to an individual life. The earliest evidence of rose cultivation dates back to about 5000 years ago in China. In ancient Greece and Rome, roses were a luxury item and used by the affluent class only. These are also used for medicinal purposes, industry and religious ceremonies. Its oil or essence heals depression, grief and tense moments. ‘Rosa Damascena’ is one of the most important species of Rasaceae family.
The leaves of roses with sugar are made into ‘gulkand’ and used for digestive problems. Rose water is used in Ayurvedic system of medicine in ophthalmic disorders. Presently, this species is cultivated in Iran, especially in Kashan to prepare rose water and essential oil. The origin of Damask rose in the Middle East reveals that the origin of rose water is Iran but the origin of fragrant oil is Greece. Some varieties of roses are cultivated commercially viz., ‘Rosagallica’, ‘Rosa Centifolia’ and ‘Rosa Damascena’. A wide range of amino acids, essential oils like Citronellol, Eugenol etc. are present in rose oil. Rose summer drinks, rose jam and rose-petal jelly are prepared which are soothing and delicious. In the 16th century, the Mughal rulers from Persia and Afghanistan brought camel loads of roses. Babar is said to have brought the ‘Damask Rose’ into India. Empress Nur Jehan is credited with using rose oil. The finest of rose liquors were distilled for emperors.
Even now, Rose Damascena and Rose Edward are cultivated at Pushkar in Rajasthan and parts of Uttar Pradesh on a commercial scale. ‘Arkprakash’ an old Sanskrit text mentions rose water distillation. Bulgaria, France and India are the major rose oil producing countries. After independence of India, Dr. B.P. Pal served as the Director of the Indian Agricultural Research Institute in Delhi who accelerated the cultivation of roses. He also hybridised many rose varieties. B.S. Bhattacharjee is known as the ‘father of rose breeding’.
Numerous Rose Gardens have come up in India. Zakir Hussain Rose Garden in Chandigarh is really a worth seeing place named after the Former President of India, Dr. Zakir Hussain. It is spread over 30 acres of land with about 1600 different species. It is Asia’s largest Rose Garden. It was created under the guidance of M.S. Randhawa, Chandigarh’s First Chief Commissioner. The garden serves as the venue for hosting an annual Rose Festival. This year, 51st Rose Festival is to be held from 17th February, 2023 to 19th February, 2023.
Nehru Rose Garden situated in Ludhiana City was established in 1967 which is also spread over 30 acres of land. Shalimar Mughal Garden in Kashmir was built by the Mughal Emperor Jahangir for his wife Nur Jahan which is famous for roses and Gulmohar trees. Pinjore Garden also known as Yadvindra Gardens is built in distinctive Persian style architecture. ‘Amrit Udyan’ earlier known as Mughal Gardens is located within the premises of the Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi having a number of rose flower varieties. Government Botanical Gardens, Ooty comprises a lovely rose garden named as The New Garden. San Jose Municipal Rose Garden located in California is spread in 11 acre area. Dr. E.M. Mills Memorial Rose Garden speaks of its beauty in Syracuse, New York. International Rose Test Garden is located in Portland which is called the City of Roses.
There have been eminent personalities who had passion for roses. Jawaharlal Nehru, The First Prime Minister of India, Dr. Zail Singh, Ex-President of India, Dr. Zakir Hussain, Ex-President of India were passionate lovers of rose flowers. Moreover, Lady Gaga, an American song writer and singer is fond of white roses. But there is no end to this list. Myself personally being a lover of roses, I remember some of the famous verses by Robert Burns:
“O! my Luve’s like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June;
O my Luve’s like the melodie
That’s sweetly play’ed in tune.”
Note: This article is dedicated to Smt. Alka Puri, M.A. (Hindi, B.Ed.). She was the Secretary, Ladies Club, Punjabi University, Patiala during the tenure of Vice-Chancellor Dr. S.S. Johal who was awarded with prestigious award Padma Bhushan in 2004. Smt. Alka Puri wife of Dr. Ajit Singh Puri and mother of Jaswant Singh Puri was a social worker also.
(The views expressed are personal)