|History of Phool Waalon Ki Sair
The origin of "Phool Waalon Ki Sair" goes to history during the reign of the Mughal King Akbar Shah II (1808 to 1837). Akbar Shah-II wanted to nominate his younger son Mirza Jahangir as the Heir Apparent (Wali-Ahad) in preference to his elder son Sirajuddin
'Zafar'. This move was not liked by the then British Resident in the Red Fort, Sir Archibald Seton. Once Mirza Jahangir who was a reckless youth of 19 insulted Seton in open court and called him
"Looloo". The British Resident did not react to this insult as probably he did not understand the meaning of
"Looloo". After a few days, when Mirza Jahangir was merry making on the roof of
Naubat Khana in Red Fort, Archibald Seton was coming from the
darbar after an audience with the King. Mirza Jahangir fired a shot at the Resident from the roof of
Naubat Khana. Seton escaped but his orderly was killed. For this act of his, Mirza Jahangir was exiled to Allahabad under orders of the British Resident.
The mother of Mirza Jahangir, Queen Mumtaz Mahal Begum, was distraught and took a vow that if her son was released from Allahabad and allowed to return to Delhi, she would offer a
chaadar of flowers at the Dargah of Khwaja Bakhtiar
"Kaaki" at Mehrauli. After a couple of years Mirza Jahangir was released and Mumtaz Mahal Begum went to Mehrauli to redeem her vow. With her the Imperial Court also shifted to
Mehrauli and so did the entire population of Delhi. For
seven days all sorts of merry making continued at Mehrauli with
Jhoolas (swings) in the mango groves, cock fighting and bull baiting, kite-flying, wrestling and swimming bouts. Amidst all this merry making with great pomp and show, a chaadar made of flowers was offered at the
Dargah of Khwaja Bakhtiar "Kaaki". The Mughal
King was secular minded and under his orders floral offering in the shape of a floral
pankha was offered at the famous Temple of Yogmayaji which is also in Mehrauli, and it became a festival named by the King
as ''Phool Waalon Ki Sair".
Seeing the response of the people and sensing the enthusiasm generated, it was decided that the
Festival will be held annually after the rains and people of all communities will offer
pankha and chaadar at the Dargah of Khwaja Bakhtiar
pankha and floral offering at Yogmayaji temple. The
Darbar was also shifted to Mehrauli for the
seven days of the
Festival. The Festival reached its pinnacle during the reign of
Sirajuddin “Zafar”, the last Mughal emperor also known as Bahadur Shah “Zafar”. Bahadur Shah “Zafar” went to celebrate
"Phool Waalon Ki Sair" even in 1857 when Delhi was under siege of the British. This was the last
"Phool Waalon Ki Sair" under the Mughals.
The Festival continued to be celebrated even after 1857 by the British Deputy Commissioner who was the highest government functionary in Delhi with the help of some prominent citizens. The Festival was stopped by the British during “Quit India” Movement of
Mahatma Gandhi in 1942 in pursuance of their “Divide and
The country was divided in 1947 when India got its freedom at the price of division of the country. There was a mammoth task before the country to settle those who came from Pakistan and had to be absorbed in India. In about 1961, the then Prime Minister of India Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru
thought of reviving the Festival and asked
Shri Yogeshwar Dayal, scion of a prominent family of Delhi to revive the Festival.
"Phool Waalon Ki Sair" was revived in 1961-62
Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru took great interest and came to Mehrauli on every "Phool
Waalon Ki Sair" as long as he lived. The Festival has grown since then. During the period of Smt Indira Gandhi as the Prime Minister, all the States of India were requested to participate in the Festival and the Festival known for communal harmony also took a step towards National Integration by weaving the States of India into the garland of flowers of
"Phool Waalon Ki Sair". Now every participating State sends two
pankhas made by its craftsmen, and a dance troupe. In a systematic manner each
State Troupe and its Pankhaas come to the stage, the troupe performs and leaves the
Pankhaas on stage after
performing. After all states have performed, all the Pankhaas are taken in a procession to The
Dargah and The Temple.
After its revival in 1962, the Festival is organized every year by "Anjuman
Sair-e-Gul Faroshan", a society registered under the Societies Registration Act.