CUTTACK: The price of Ketaki or screw pine flower skyrocketed on the auspicious occasion of Maha Shivratri, the only day in a year when it is offered to the deity.
‘Ketaki’ is a variety of Kewra, that blooms only during this time of the year and grows in coastal Odisha.
According to mythology, the flower was cursed by Lord Shiva not be used for any puja, but after much pleading the Lord allowed the flower to be worshipped and hence Maha Shivratri is the only day Ketaki flowers are used.
Devotees believe that their wishes would be fulfilled with the offering of Ketaki flower to the deity on the day.
Considering its importance, the demand for Ketaki flower shoots up and so do the prices. “I have been offering Ketaki to Lord Shiva every Maha Shivaratri for the last several years. I paid Rs 400 to buy one flower while the price last year was Rs 150,” said Annapurna Pati of Paschimakhanda Bhola.
Another devotee, who had to place an order a month in advance to get a Ketaki flower, paid Rs 500 for it. A priest of of Nilakantheswar temple at Paschima Khanda Bhola, Druba Charan Padhi said despite increase in price, offering of Ketaki never declines on Maha Shivaratri day.
The rise in price is also attributed to decline in the availability of the flower. Earlier, Ketaki was grown abundantly in fields here but most of the fields have been destroyed or fallen prey to natural calamities.
Vendors also engage people to collect the flowers much in advance, said a gardener Sudam Rana of Julikipada.
“I have collected 65 Ketaki flowers from Kulia localities and earned Rs 20,000 by selling those to local florists,” said Sukan Sahu, a seasonal trader.