Aju Mukhopadhyay describes the splendours of one of the most colourful springs he spent in Lisse, Holland. Deccan Herald, Sunday, April 04, 2004
Greek Goddess Demeter lost her daughter Persephone. After a winter of grieving and searching, she got her back in spring. A joyous Demeter blessed the earth, which woke up to life with innumerable blossoms. This continues ad infinitum. Witnessing the world's largest spring garden, moving among the Tulips in particular, I spent one of the most colourful springs of my life in April last. Spring is the symbol of life. Everywhere people welcome the season of new leaves, colourful flowers and love. It begins with equinox, around 21 March. Passing through a smooth road, riding a bus from Antwerp to Lisse, Holland, we almost glided to Kagr lake and cruised in a motor launch for some time. Windmills were seen in fields near the bank. Sometimes the lake passed through a town with houses on both sides. It reminded me of Vembanad lake in Kerala, passing through the villages, carrying passengers from place to place.After another short bus drive, we entered the 32 hectares Keukenhof Tulip garden. What astonished us most at first was the gathering of a large number of gay people, strolling, sitting on the banks of the lake or sitting inside and outside the restaurants, which were full and overflowing, with eaters seated very closely on the fawn. Varieties of foods, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian, and drinks were available there. Walking alongside the lake after some refreshments our views were suddenly stolen by tulips in various forms. Unfolding their beauty in different shapes and colour and undulating in the air they drew our attention, one after the other. Tulip or Tulipa, in Belgium it is Tulipen. The Mother of Pondicherry revealed its spiritual significance, ‘Blossoming’ the ‘result of trust and success,’ she explained. Tulips grow well in cold and hilly climate and thrive best under big trees, in partial shade. Holland is one of world’s main producer of Tulips. In India it is grown in places such as Kashmir and Kulu valley.The egg shaped flowers of this low-growing plant usually blooms in a stalk in all natural colours, from white to black. Tulips may also be grown in pots. So we bought a few potted tulip plants, just a few few inches tall, outside Keukenhof park. We were expecting the plant to flower after it grew up to it’s size, which would be by next year. But lo! we were amazed ro see them bloom before our very eyes in just a matter of three days. Because it was spring! Our eyes never rested. We moved on and on to find new varieties of blossoms, which splashed colours in our hearts. Though tulips were the main objects of attraction, there were others in the constellation. It was the celebration of a flower festival. There were separate beds for different types of flowers, like hyacinth, daffodil or orchid. Each became a cynosure. Hyacinths were fragrant bell-shaped flowers, densely clustered with riot of colours. Orchids were exhibited in indoor glass house with some other flowers. Orchids, Mother said, are known for their 'Attachment for the divine.' When beds of daffodils came to our view, with their predominantly yellow shades, displaying their 'Power of beauty,' as Mother said, we immediately remembered poet William Wordsworth's ruminating on them,'And then my heart with pleasure fills, And dances with the daffodils.' Besides flowers, take and eateries, there were other things to see, like white and blue peacocks and peahens, joyfully playing and dancing, spreading their plumage before the spectators, announcing the victory, a spiritual victory, as Sri Aurobindo said, they symbolise it. The environment, particularly the flowers, gladdened their heart and induced a smile in everyone. From morning to evening, the visitors spent a happy day. As it is their wont in Western countries, the youth became more sensual than usual. There is a post office in the campus, selling colourful postcards and stamps. One may send a joy-card to his near and dear ones.We could think of many creative processes, tike making Neem Parks with shops selling neem products and literature on them with arrangement for demonstration. We could make Jasmine Parks' with varieties of creepers which bring forth highly fragrant tiny white flowers with such trees as Spanish Cherry, Champaka and such flowering trees and plants to make the summer not only tolerable but attractive, not only to the bees but to humans also. Many such things could be done to give a vent to our aesthetic sense, to boost our efforts for development of tourism.