florist

GangaFlorist

Fabricating flowers
that never wilt

“90% of the Marwaris of Calcutta—the crème de la crème—know Ganga babu the florist. They will all know me. I have a brand name. I say no to no job—whether it is worth Rs. 500 or Rs. 50 lakhs, whether a birthday party or a week-long destination wedding—because I’m afraid it’ll upset the other person. You see, everyone loves to work with me.”

The well-renowned Ganga babu works with fresh and artificial flowers alike. Beginning as a humble florist, primarily involved in arranging flowers on decorative columns in weddings, Ganga babu is now the proud owner of a factory producing artificial flowers. His establishment employs 400 labourers during the business’s peak season. Ganga babu has travelled to many destinations—from Ranchi and Dhaka to Dubai—to decorate venues for festive occasions, using a combination of fresh and fabricated flowers.

“The way we decorate is in a thrifty manner. People want the most value for their buck, so we use fresh leaves and intersperse them with artificial flowers. Only by touching will you be able to know that they are artificial.”

The most famous of these carefully-crafted flowers are those made using sholapith—a soft, milky-white plant matter drawn from the core of the Shola plant (also known as Indian Cork). Considered to be pure and auspicious, sholapith has long been used for religious purposes, finding its application in the decoration of Hindu idols and creation of the traditional headgear worn by Bengali brides and grooms in weddings.

However, in recent times, the demand for sholapith handicrafts has shifted. They are now mostly sought out as home decorative pieces or in the form of Ganga babu’s artificial flowers. From dahlias and roses to tulips, lilies and other self-designed variations, his fabricated shola flowers mimic a range of types and species, each handcrafted in excruciating detail.

Ganga babu does not seem too worried about the future of his craft as he believes large, extravagant weddings are here to stay, and so are artificial flowers.

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