Chandigarh, Feb 24 (IANS) This city is smelling of roses as it prepares for the three-day Rose Festival starting Friday. The 38th edition of the annual flower show will be supplemented by dances and songs by Bollywood artists, a stunt dancing troupe from Goa and a fashion show.
‘The Rose Festival is an integral part of the carnival calendar of Chandigarh. Our preparations are going on in full swing to make it a big success. We have also invited prominent Bollywood artists to add colour to this event,’ Ram Niwas, home-cum-tourism secretary of Chandigarh, told IANS.
He added: ‘Local girl and famous actress Gul Panag will be the star guest. Besides there will be live performances by Koena Mitra and Kunal Ganjawala and a fashion show by renowned Mumbai designers Libas and Anamika Rawal. A dance group from Goa will perform live dancing stunts.’
The administration here is expecting tens of thousands of visitors to come here on each day of the festival. There will also be a photography contest, a painting competition, a rose prince and princess contest, a kite flying competition, a rose quiz, live concerts and Antakshri.
Also known as Zakir Hussain Rose Garden – named after India’s former president – Chandigarh’s rose garden in Sector 16 was set up in 1967. Spread over 46 acres, it has 17,000 plants showcasing nearly 800 varieties of roses and an assortment of medicinal plants.
Officials here claim it is Asia’s largest rose garden. An important tourist destination, it is thronged by hundreds of visitors from India and abroad every day.
‘During the last many years, nurturing a rose plant has become equivalent to nurturing our own child for us. Initially, we took it as a job, a source of bread and butter, but gradually we have developed a deep love and affection for these roses,’ Balihar, a gardener who has been working here for the last two decades, told IANS.
Jaipal, supervisor of the Rose Garden, said: ‘It takes a lot of hard work to take care of the plants. These are pruned in the month of October and the plants start blooming 45 days after pruning. It is the effort of gardeners that provides us a chance to enjoy the sight of these charming roses.’
In a bid to improve its upkeep, students of Government High School here in Sector 28 adopted the Rose Garden last month.
‘Divided into two groups, the students will visit the garden once in a month. Apart from cleaning the garden, students will sentisise the tourists coming there about the relevance of the place. They will spread messages through awareness rallies and various activities like slogan writing, poster making, and quiz contests,’ said a school official.
The garden will also see the inauguration of a musical fountain during this festival.
(Alkesh Sharma can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)