Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Flor de Nochebuena

 Has to be in Spanish today because the story i share is about two poor Mexican kids Maria and Pablo. Brother and sister born in a poor peasant's family. Throughout the year they lived a hard life but despite their misery the kids would eagerly look forward to Christmas. Dabbling in dearth and burdened with drudgery they would nevertheless nurture excitement for the local church function which would also set up a nativity scene for everyone to see. The pomp and gaiety would start even a few days before Christmas. Although half fed and most of the times hungry Maria and Pablo slept well with dreams about the Baby Jesus in the manger and of all that singing and dancing for the new born King. 

Walking with excitement in their hearts they saw scores of people carrying gifts for baby Jesus. Maria felt sad and started crying. When Pablo asked her why she was crying she confessed that she felt inferior and just too embarrassed because they have nothing to offer Jesus on His birthday. Pablo had also felt the same and was rather disheartened but had bravely curtained off his true feelings from his sister. Now that the issue was out in the open they both started crying miserably feeling sorry about them being gift less. Wiping their tears but still feeling sad and unable to prevent more tears from coming they walked towards the church. 
Some believe that an angel appeared before them and said, "All you have to do is gather what's at your feet. Gift it to the Baby and your gift would surely be appreciated and accepted. Jesus loves anything that is gifted from the heart with love."
Mario and Pablo looked down and saw only weeds but they obeyed the angel and diligently gathered what they could of the weeds. They felt happier now because they had something in their hands and their heart was full of love for Jesus. The other children mocked them and jeered at them but they kept their faithful face forward and queued up in the church to gift the Baby in the manger. People had lined up to place extravagant gifts at the foot of the nativity scene. When their turn came people glared at the two urchins in disbelief when Mario and Pablo placed the bouquet of weeds near the manger.
Lo! and Behold ! the weeds transformed into beautiful star shaped red flowers. Everyone who had witnessed this cried out in amazement and swore that they had seen a Christmas miracle.

Then on each year during Christmas time beautiful Poinsettias bloomed by the road side. Word spread around of the miracle witnessed by one and all and the red flowers thus earned it's name as, ' Flores de Noche Buena'- Flowers of the Holy Night or The Flower of Christmas Eve.

This miracle was not the only miracle that had happened. Another event had happened too and the venue was in the hearts of the people who had glared at the poor children. For they had realized the true meaning of gift and that honest gesture of love called gifting. A gift need not be expensive and whatever is gifted from the heart is accepted by the Lord. As if an overnight transformation had taken place in the hearts and minds of the local people.

Every year during Christmas time families gather to pay tribute to this idea of gifting. All the while hoping good for the future while honoring the past with thankfulness in their heart.
My roving eyes had perchance caught a brilliant spectacle in red while we were passing the rows of hotels and resorts on the main road in Dhikuli. i requested the driver of the cab to pull over for just a few minutes for i wanted to see what that glory was. Hurrying in my excitement that i have seen Bhuransh ( local name for Rhododendron)  i approached the radiant spectacle.
 Lo and behold! what do i see!. A POINSETTIA TREE !. 
i thanked my stars. Nowhere up till now had i seen a Tree of that which i had always fancied. i have seen the ornamental variety in white, red and yellow in Coorg as potted plants and small shrubs but never as a tree.
i had to narrate the story which was once narrated to me by one of our Nun sisters in St Joseph's Convent. i remember it well. On the last working day before the winter vacation started in December. Somewhere around 18- 20th December. The Convent itself was gearing up for Christmas and for us to view and appreciate the Sisters with the help of the creative students in school had put up a nativity scene at the entrance of the school chapel. i had in my possession a beautiful Christmas card which i had purchased from the Christmas Fair at school. The beautiful almost like a dream card glittering with Holy Night Starry Night Stars featured this flower too. i remember asking Sister Mary Leoba the significance of the flower. She had  patiently indulged in my curiosity at first and later satisfied it with this folk lore. i had thus received my first enlightenment that day. About Gifts and Gifting and the Christmas Poinsettia.
Now for the facts that i know mainly because i have loved and admired Poinsettias ever since. My reading through books has bestowed to me some more enlightenment of another kind. As to how some flowers have derived their names. Scientifically they may have names which only a Botanist or a student of Botany would know. But commonly many of the flowers are named after people. Either after those who have discovered them or else derived from those who have been passionate about  propagating them. Finding it somewhere and then bringing it back to their own country to nurture and grow.
The US ambassador to Mexico in the 1880's Joel Robert Poinsett saw these beautiful flowers in Mexico and decided to bring it to the United States. He first grew them in his own green house and gifted the plant to his friends, relatives and fellow botanists. Later he worked on growing them commercially. Although scientifically the plant is assigned to the genus Euphorbia , his name invariably got associated with it. Thus Poinsettia.

The charming and sweet legend of Mario and Pablo and the weeds which got transformed conveys a very basic moral.
In our own country we have another legend quite similar to this Mexican one. About Lord Krishna and his pauper friend Sudaama.
Alas! if we only understood and endorsed that. For today even something so pious as gifting has become an ordeal that we generally shirk. Mostly it is only pretense or rather a courtesy where anything gets dumped by the giver on to the receiver. Recently ostentation has got the better of it and people are gifting huge and very expensive items for status sake which perhaps pumps more into the already bloated ego .
Where are we driving the generation to? Why are we doing this? How or when did it all start...!?

i suppose since i have no brief or substantial answers to that i would like revert back to Poinsettia and some Spanish... Adios! Hasta Pronto !


  1. @Gajadhar Dwivedi thank u for not only stopping by but also for the appreciation shown. Hope to see more of u on my posts. :)

  2. Wow, heartwarming story and beautiful flowers. I always like looking at red flowers amidst the green leaves. the contrast is always striking and eye-capturing. I'm hearing this story for the first time and glad that you shared the same with us.

    I'm suddenly yearning for Christmas and cakes.

    Lots of love, dear Shivani.

    Joy always,

  3. @ Susan oh sooo happy to see u responding to what I wanted to share with u so badly. Thank u :)
    Yeah me too...for Merry Christmas...cakes...
    Love and hugs to u.

  4. Thanks,just came back from Coorg ,we stopped by almost 5 plant nurseries looking for this plant....we were not able to figure out the name and finally one lady told us its called PINE CITY...atleast that was what we thought...and finally we got one for just Rs 50/-.....going to plant this at my farm...fingers crossed....thanks for finally updaing me the correct name POINSETTIA TREE.

    1. Apologies on the late reply Karthik Vivekanandhan. Thank you for stopping by at my post. I share your enthusiasm too. I am thrilled to know the correct names too. I am glad you found my post helpful. :)

  5. i recently travelled to coorg and as i turned from kushal nagar to dubbare i saw this tree by the road side.at first i thought it was red musanda , but on slowing down and closer inspection realised it was not musanda.I searched all the nurseries for this plant but couldnt find.finally i bought a potted poinsettia plant and came back to bangalore. i doubt if the potted version would grow into the so called tree as the formation of the flowers seems different. next time in coorg im going to beg the owner of the tree to part with a branch.

  6. Apologies Totally Taurus on the late reply. I don't know about Bangalore but come Nov and Dec the Delhi nurseries entice one with many colors of this as a potted plant. But one has to be very caring about this as a potted plant because too much frost kills it. However in Bangalore you can try growing it as a tree. No harm in trying.
    Thank you for stopping by. Wish you good luck in trying to grow one as a tree. Do let me know. Keep the wishes alive.