Photowalk in Georgetown (Chennai, India): the Flower Market

Third in a series of posts about a photowalk taken in northern Chennai, in a section of town called Georgetown.

I’ve mentioned a few times on this blog that there are people – mainly older women – all over Chennai who make a living by stringing together flowers and selling them for about a dollar for 3-4 feet of jasmine, for example.  This week, we got to see where the flowers come from.  Well, an intermediate step, anyway.  I still want to see the fields where they are grown.


When you enter the street, your feet immediately get wet because there is a 2-inch deep layer of wet much consisting of ground-up plant matter that has built up in the street.  But once you get past this, (OK so now my feet are wet, let’s move on) you see vendor after vendor with big burlap sacks filled with flowers.  Mainly these are just the blossoms themselves, with an inch or two of stem attached – but there is also the occasional seller of long-stemmed cut flowers.  At 6:30 am, most of the vendors still have low-hanging electric lights over the flowers and the effect of the colorful flowers and the lights illuminating them and throwing a glow across faces is magical for photographers.


Flower Shop

Flower Seller

Floriculture in India is a growing industry.  India grows many flowers for internal consumption, but its government has also identified floriculture as an export-oriented “sunrise industry” – suggesting they expect the sector to grow.  Depending on the website you consult, it is estimated that India’s current production of loose exceeds 1.6 million loose flowers and 750 million cut flowers! The major importers of these flowers include countries like the United States, Netherlands, and Japan. We hear a lot about India’s IT industry, but there is also a great deal of hope in its flower industry – certainly the numbers of jobs created is likely to be much greater.


Abdul Ghafar

Flower Man

For more photos from Georgetown, check out this set on Flickr.

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