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Friday, 27 July 2018

Flowers for Keshava

July 14th, 2018

We’re going tomorrow to the temple of Lord Soumya Keshava at Nagamangala. I need to buy flowers and a flower garland (maalaa) to worship the cow whom we’re going to donate to the temple’s goushaalaa. So, I hurry to the flower vendor opposite the Ganesha temple. 

I buy the jasmine flowers but am confused about what type of garland to buy. So I call my mother in law for advice and make my choice. 

The flower vendor couple (Latha and Bettappa are their names, as I later learn) have heard my side of the conversation and as they pack my purchases, they ask me which temple I’m going to. I tell them, and then, Bettappa has a murmured conversation with Latha. She thrusts her hand into a huge plastic cover, draws out and measures about three metres of the arali flower string, and ties it up into a neat garland, and hands it over to me. 

Arali flower maalaa. Pic taken from Youtube because I didn't want to take a picture of the maalaa before it was offered, and no pictures were allowed inside the temple where it was offered.

“Please offer these flowers to Perumal on our behalf,” Latha requests.

“Whenever someone tells us they’re going to a temple, we send some flowers with them, to be offered to the Lord,” Bettapa says with a humble smile.

I find myself struggling for words as I thank them, and reassure them that I will definitely pass on their offering. I’m struck by how happily they’ve given away something that would have fetched them at least a few hundred rupees! 

The devout couple - Latha and Bettappa

As I walk away, I’m drawn by the strong scent of the delicate jaaji flowers being sold by another flower vendor. I tell her to measure out two armlengths. She does, and there’s only a little more left over, which she insists I take, without charging me extra!

By then, one of her regular customers, an elderly woman, comes to take her stock of un-tied flowers. As the vendor lady hands over a cover with the flowers, telling her she only has this small amount saved for her, this buyer insists she should measure it accurately, and take the correct amount. 

To my utter surprise, the discussion is not about how the vendor will cheat the buyer, but that she may give extra flowers at a lower cost, and incur a loss! 
To which, the vendor makes a strange comment,

“Yellaa lekkaa aa Thathappa nodkotaaney!” (Translation: That grandfather will take care of all the accounts)

I’m intrigued by this, and ask her whom she is calling ‘Thathappa.’

“Sai Baba,” she replies, informing me that the elderly customer is a devotee who regularly buys the un-tied flowers, strings them up herself, and offers to the Sai Baba temple nearby.

Mulling over these eye-opening experiences, I make my way home. I’m worried that the flower vendor from whom I regularly buy un-tied flowers will have gone away because nobody’s home. A tiny disappointment ensues, because I too wanted to offer some flowers tied by my efforts.

A little later in the night, someone knocks, and I open the door. There’s a plastic cover with un-tied flowers left hanging on the door handle. I rush out to see who knocked, and standing a little away is a flower vendor who rarely comes to my road, and from whom I’ve bought flowers only once before.

“I don’t know why, Madam, but I felt I must come and give the flowers to you today,” he blurts out.

“Thank you so much. I’m going to a temple tomorrow, and I wanted the flowers, but couldn’t buy it from the regular guy because I came home late,” I say as I pay him.

“Even if you hadn’t been around to give me the money, I would have left the flowers and gone,” he says, and leaves.

A little later, the door knocks once again, and I open it to find my elderly neighbor. She’s come to ask me if I want to take the ‘Brahma Kamalam’ that’s bloomed in the pot outside. I hadn’t noticed it but her request fills me with greed. I want this exquisite, rare bloom too, for my Krishna! 

Brahma Kamalam. Pic taken about a year ago

As Aunty plucks the flower, she tells me that the last time two of these flowers had bloomed, she had allowed some ladies from our road to take the flowers to the temples they visited. I cringe inwardly with shame, for, I had felt a little aggrieved that Aunty had taken both the flowers, and I didn’t get even one.

My eyes grow misty as I’m overwhelmed by gratitude at how Krishna cares for petty souls like me and the smallest of my wishes. Not only did He let me have my heart’s desire of bringing Him flowers, He even arranged for me to learn the true spirit of offering and devotion from all these flower vendors and Aunty. 

Pic courtesy: Temple Advisor website, because photography inside the temple is prohibited

Wishing you all a blissful Guru Pournima! Krishnam Vande Jagadgurum!


  1. What a lovely story, moved me so much. Wonders of loving Krishna...He brings in his Magic in everything ----
    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Divine intrusion beautifully narrated.

  3. Great Anu.Real Anoobhuti.from Bhargavi

  4. So simple n yet so profound. Felt tears rolling as i finished reading it. Shall i show the picture to turf flower vendor couple opp the ganesh temole ?
    God bless all. Thank u anu.

    1. Thank you, Vatsala. I'm so grateful to you for first starting me out on the spiritual path. Please do show it to them - I had told them I'll be writing about them and clicked the picture with their consent.

  5. That is Spiritual Aatmaartha Devotion.. Jai Sri Krishna...

  6. Wow this proves that if you wish with a PURE heart it SURE will be fulfilled by that Supreme Lord Vasudeva.God Bless you dear


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