“Logically, harmony must come from the heart… Harmony very much based on trust. As soon as use force, creates fear. Fear and trust cannot go together.”
– Dalai Lama
Phoolwalon Ki Sair, is a two hundred year old communal harmony festival for the citizen and by the citizens of Delhi. It was founded in 1808 by the Mughal Emperor Akbar Shah II and his Queen Begum Mumtaz Mahal. The entire city’s populace participating in the procession that initiated at Red Fort and wended its through the city to Mehrauli, where it culminated in the offering of a chadar of fragrant flowers to the dargah of Sufi saint Khwaja Bakhtiyar Kaki, a disciple of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti of Ajmer. Besides, a floral chhatri was offered by the Emperor at the ancient Yogmaya temple close by. The citizens presented floral pankhas to the Emperor and noblemen at the court. The seven day festival saw the participation of common people of all faiths. Despite challenges posed by the British rulers, the enthusiasm of the people remained unabated, and the festival continued to be celebrated by the citizens of Delhi.
Post Independance, the communal harmony festival was revived by Shri Yogeshwar Dayalji, a prominent businessman, philanthropist and art connoisseur from Chandni Chowk. He established the Anjuman – Sair – e – Gulfaroshan a registered society in 1961. It received patronage from Pandit Nehru and all the States of India were directed to participate in the Phool Walon Ki Sair. The tradition continues to the present day. On the demise of its benefactor Shri Yogeshwar Dayal in 2006, the members of the society elected his daughter, Mrs. Usha Dayal as General Secretary. The Sair continues under her dedicated leadership.
The India Harmony Foundation (IHF) was established in 2010 by its Founder President Late Shri Zafar Saifullah, former Cabinet Secretary, Government of India with Dr. A.R. Kidwai (former Governor of West Bengal, Bihar and Haryana), Shri Rehman Khan (M.P. and former Deputy Chairman, Rajya Sabha), Shri Virender Dayal (former Chef-de-Cabinet, United Nations New York and former Member, Human Rights Commission), Lt. Gen. S.A. Hasnain (Retd) PVSM, AVSM, Shri Keki Daruwalla (Poet Writer & former Chairman, JIC, Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India), Smt. Louise Khurshid (former M.L.A. and Senior journalist), Dr. Spalzes Angmo (former Member, National Commission for Minorities), Shri S.K. Zaheer (former UN Civil Servant & President Shia College, Lucknow), Smt. Zakia Zaheer (Educationist and well-known Urdu Litterateur) and Mrs. Kulsoom Noor Saifullah (Enterpreneur, Publisher and Social Activist) as Founder Trustees.
The principal objective of The India Harmony Foundation is to build bridges between different communities and promote national harmony. Restoring, through a sustained series of confidence building measures, peace, harmony and genuine fellowship between different communities living in India. The clear intent would be to reverse, across the country, the feeling of alienation that has crept into the psyche, the hearts and minds of people; so that once again India becomes in every sense truly, ONE NATION AND ONE SOCIETY. The Foundation shall provide an umbrella to all small NGOs across the country working to bring peace, justice, economic and social security to each citizen.
This vision is being taken forward by Mrs. Kulsoom Noor Saifullah, with the full support of each of the eminent Founder Trustees of IHF. She says “Our endeavour seeks to inform as they entertain. Our heritage is our Ganga Jamuna tehzeeb – a synergy of cultural traditions evolving over the last one thousand years. We do it through visuals, music theatre and dance, combining all creative art forms, to tell a story of India’s pluralism, with the hope, that our message will help in closing the growing distance between communities who have lived harmoniously side by side for generations.”
This year the Phoolwalon Ki Sair is being joined by IHF Trustees, members and volunteers. The Grand Finale will be an IHF presentation “the soul of Hindustan” a dance and musical show performed by the celebrated Kathak guru Shovana Narayan and her group. The full nine day programme is as follows :
Friday, November 13th : commencement of the festival with a nine day citizens mela at the mango orchards at Mehrauli.
Monday, November 16th : 11am – presentation of floral pankhas by citizens of all faiths. Procession of shehnai players and citizens to residence of Lt Governor of Delhi and to Delhi Secretariat for presentation of pankhas to Chief Minister and Chief Secretary of Delhi, followed by presentation of pankhas to Divisional Commissioner and Commissioner of Police, Delhi.
Tuesday, November 17th : citizens assemble at 3pm at India Gate for a procession of shehnai players, dholak players and pankhas. Also at 4.30pm, reassembling of procession at Gauri Shankar temple, Chandni Chowk, before proceeding to the Town Hall.
Wednesday, November 18th : traditional sports such as kabaddi, wrestling and kite flying will take place at 2.30pm at Jahaz Mahal grounds, Mehrauli.
Thursday, November 19th : Lt. Governor of Delhi to lead the procession to the Dargah of Bakhtiyar Kaki, at Mehrauli at 4pm and present a floral chadar, to be followed by a programme of Qawaalis.
Friday, November 20th : Floral pankhas and chattra to be offered at the Yogmaya temple followed by a dance programme at 6.30pm.
Saturday, November 21st : 2.30pm procession of cultural troupes from other states to present pankhas at Dargah and Mandir at Mehrauli.
6.00pm : Citizens to assemble outside Jahaz Mahal, Mehrauli to witness fireworks, in the presence of Chief Guest Hon’ble Chief Minister of NCT of Delhi, Shri Arvind Kejriwal and Guest of Honour, Shri Kapil Mishra, Hon’ble Minister of Tourism NCT of Delhi
6.30pm : GRAND FINALE at Jahaz Mahal with The India Harmony Foundation’s, “The Soul of Hindustan”, a musical dance performance by Padma Shri Shovana Narayan and her group. Conceptualised by Mrs Kulsoom Noor Saifullah, Managing Trustee of The India Harmony Foundation and member of Anjuman- Sair – e – Gulfaroshan.
7.30pm – 3am : all night Qawaali by three renowned groups of Qawaals. Organised by Mrs Usha Kumar, General Secretary, Anjuman – Sair – e – Gulfaroshan.
“There are always a few who stand up in times of communal madness and have the courage to say that what unites us is greater than what divides us.”
– Geraldine Brooks
A belief, that The India Harmony Foundation believes in and urges the citizens of Delhi to participate in this beautiful nine days Phoolwalon Ki Sair, celebration of experiencing communal solidarity. Let Delhi show the way.