For The Love Of Mother Nature Let A Billion Buransh Bloom
First the prolog by desi Traveler: For me, it was ” OMG ” moment at first sight. On a trek, during my college days, we were introduced to Rhododendron or Buransh flowers in full glory. As they say, Himalayas were never the same for me. While most of us love the pristine white peaks smiling at us, I like to add a dash of wild Himalayan colors to the canvas to complete the picture, and nothing, let me repeat NOTHING adds colors to a Himalayan Spring that a Buransh Tree blooming in full glory. For as you will read later in this marvelous blog post about Buransh Flowers by our guest author Deeptangan Pant will showcase. This also brings me to that eternal question ” What is more important the Journey or the destination ?” For me, the Journey is the destination and a Buransh in bloom is part of my Himalayan journey and I hope one day we will realize the importance of this annual event and celebrate it with saving fervor like our friends in Japan do for Cherry Blossoms. For a Buransh flowering is no ordinary event for our hills.
Now let me give you a bit of background about this blog post about Buransh flowers and along with Deeptangan, I must also thank Twitter for the same. For it was on my timeline I saw a glorious picture of a Buransh in bloom and I was hooked once again.
Check here >
— Deeptangan Pant (@cynicalpahadi) March 6, 2017
It turned out that Deeptangan was running a series of tweets to celebrate the glory of Buransh or Rhododendron flowering. Thus I requested him for a blog post about the same and here we are ” Celebrating the Flowering of Buransh in Uttrakhand Himalayas“
Over to author and photographer Deeptangan Pant:
The hills of Uttarakhand in the season of spring are akin to a blank canvas splashed with a plethora of myriad colors creating a haphazard yet pleasing expression of nature’s creativity. The sal jungles of Bhabar separating the Shivalik hills and the vast fields of Terai are colored golden as their leaves wither and fall off. The parched brown mountains that have battled a cold unforgiving winter begin to regain their greenish hue. High-altitude grasslands wake up from their winter slumber, shake off blankets of snow and caress their burnt skin as fledgling flower buds open their eyes. While manicured home gardens mirror the colors of Holi which is a major spring festival in the hills, the rustic beauty of wild has a charm of its own. In the belly of deodar, oak and pine jungles a variety of flowers bloom hidden from the curious gaze of pesky humans. Buransh or Rhododendron is one such flower that usually prefers the solitary environs of high-altitude jungles but has gradually become one of the cultural motifs of Pahari culture.
Flowering at altitudes higher than 1500m during the months of March to May, Buransh is an interesting specimen. At relatively lower altitudes it has a bright red color and generally grows on trees while at higher altitudes it sports a light pink demeanor and is found on dense stunted bushes. Another variety in simple white is found at altitudes higher than 4500m and can be seen even up till early June. But spring is the season when it flourishes without restraint; it lines shores of quiet lakes and lends its reddish glow to the still waters, cheers up a dark morose jungle of Deodar and refreshes the otherwise unimpressive pine jungles. Certain trekking destinations like Tungnath and Pindari Glacier are particularly beautiful during this season where one can find Buransh lighting up a snow-capped landscape.
While its prominence in the natural scheme is undeniable, it has steadily been elevated to a cultural icon in Pahari culture too and has been recognized as the state flower of Uttarakhand. Apart from its aesthetic beauty it is also known to have medicinal properties and is widely used in the preparation of a potent juice effective for heart ailments and high blood pressure. It is also a favorite snack of Pahari kids out in the jungles for daily chores like collecting wood and grazing of animals or just having a gala time with their friends exploring the mountains.
The first day of Chaitra is celebrated in Uttarakhand as phooldei/phool sangrand, a folk festival in which children go to the forests and collect flowers and thereafter visit all the houses in their locality carrying these flowers, rice, and jaggery and sing songs to bring prosperity to these households. Naturally, as this festival falls usually in spring, festivities are incomplete without the beautiful Buransh. The colors of Buransh have also inspired many poets and songwriters of Uttarakhand who have used its imagery to present the allure of the Himalayas and its traditions. One such folk song sung widely during Holi celebrations describes how the snow clad mountains are painted in colors of Buransh as Shiva and Parvati play Holi in the Himalayas.
After the challenging winter months of the Himalayas, colors of spring infuse life into an otherwise dreary landscape reeling from the iron hand of debilitating cold. The euphoria in nature is complemented by several festivals and as with many other customs in hills, nature’s gifts are an essential ingredient to the festivities. Buransh is much more than a flower to the people of Uttarakhand – its fragrance is the nostalgia of childhood explorations taken with special friends, a symbol of diversity and wealth of the Himalayas and a tragic reminder of a simple yet enchanting life left behind in the hills in search of livelihoods.
About Author & Photographer
Deeptangan Pant: An engineer by profession, Deeptangan likes to explore India, meet its people, savor its cuisines, climb its mountains and sail down its rivers. Born and brought up in the shadow of the Great Himalayas, he reveres the mighty mountains as the temples where he has been educated. When not writing code, he is trekking in the Himalayas, writing, reading books and enjoying music.
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