Ful Dei is celebrated for about a month every year during the flowering season (March-April) in Garhwal and Kumaon areas of Uttarakhand. Boys, especially young girls, go to the fields, forests and gardens after bathing and collect fresh flowers to offer to the local deities to welcome the onset of spring.
There is a local belief that placing flowers at the door of the house for the deities brings prosperity and blessings. Groups of children, known as Phulyari, bring flowers into the house every day and take money and sweets from each family on the last day of spring.
A significant harvest festival in Uttarakhand, Phool Dei is a reverence paid to the gods for the good crop year. It is on this occasion little girls decorate the threshold of the houses with freshly picked flowers.
This is the month when the whole of Uttarakhand is covered with colorful flowers, mainly peaches, raisins, apricots, cherries, almonds, pears and apple trees. The flowers of the red rhododendron, locally called Buransh (state tree of Uttarakhand), are a scene of the season. The yellow flowers of Fenoli, also known scientifically as Renwardia indica, are also common and are widely used on occasion, such as mustard flowers.
As children, we used to get up in the morning and collect different kinds of flowers. We will place these fresh flowers at the door of every house in the neighborhood.
The memory of this ritual is kept alive by the fragrance of flowers left at our doorsteps which the local children continue the practice of giving flowers.
Gathering flowers with our childhood friends and earning money to deliver to our neighbors was very exciting.
But now we realize that our ancestors created this ritual to celebrate spring and nature and to know their significance. He did this by associating flower buds with religious and aesthetic purposes.
Known as the harvest festival of the state Uttarakhand, Phool Dei is an auspicious folk festival that welcomes the spring season in the state. The festival is celebrated on the first day of the Hindu month, Chaitra. Young girls are the most enthusiastic ones to participate in the festival.
Phool Dei is all about flowers and springtime. In some places, the festival is celebrated as Carnival and the celebration goes on for a month. The term ‘Dei’ refers to a ceremonial pudding which is the key food in this festival that is made from jaggery. White flour and curd are also offered to everyone.
Young girls gather together and go to every house in their village/town with plates full of rice, jaggery, coconut, green leaves, and flowers. Moreover, these girls put forward their wishes for the prosperity and well-being of households while singing “Phool Dei, Chamma Dei, Deno Dwar, Bhur Bhakar, Vo Dei Sei Namashkar, Puja Dwar.” In return, they are presented with blessings and gifts like sweets, jaggery, and money.
The wishing and blessing part also includes placing flowers and rice on the doorsteps of the houses by the young girls. People of the village sing and dance on their folk songs to celebrate the festival of spring along with exchanging wishes for well being and prosperity of their family and relatives.
Highlights of the Phool Dei Festival
A pudding made from jaggery is the key dish of the festival.
This festival showcases the inner connection between the communities who all are living in the hills.
Young girls of the villages/towns pluck the first flowers of the season and scatter these flowers on the threshold of their home and other houses of their village/town.
Folk singers welcome the spring with their music and are given rice and gifts.