Flowers are beautiful expressions of the grandeur of nature. They bloom and shine and express their beauty in a marvelous variety of colours, shapes, sizes and fragrances. Although their principal biological purpose is for the reproduction of the individual plant and its species, flowers have long been admired and used by humans to beautify their environment. They are also used as a means of expressing love, in rituals, religion, medicine and as a source of food.
They possess a quality which evokes joy and happiness and can provide a feeling of a world which lies beyond the sorrows and cares of the human experience. A bouquet of flowers can bring us cheer and brighten our day and create a new energy in our being, even to the extent of instilling hope and fostering inspiration as seen in Art and Literature. A field of daffodils inspired the poet Longfellow to write a beautiful poem. Van Gogh's famous artistic painting emanated from the sunflower. He was also fascinated by the Iris flower.
These qualities of the flower are like wordless prayers of nature that transcend knowing through the physical senses and the intellect. They are qualities that say what we cannot say in words or out loud. They express our deep feelings and emotions. Additionally, when one takes the time to observe the flower, one may experience communion with the Divine, awakening us to the truth of our Original Nature. Such experiences give the flower its spiritual significance.
The symbolism of flowers
From the origin of a flower’s name to its distinctive characteristics and rich mythology, a flower is infused with symbolism and meaning that date back to ancient times. It is said by mystics that “a language of deep symbolic meaning is spoken in the exchange of flowers." The giving or receiving of flowers opens our hearts to the vulnerable feelings and tendencies within us that need expression. It is common knowledge that roses symbolise love, passion and beauty, but have you ever wondered where the meanings of flowers come from? Although the symbolic use of flowers is an ancient practice, it was not until the nineteenth century that floriography became formalised. Every flower is given its own significance.
The lotus is a symbol of purity; the sunflower adoration and loyalty. The orchid symbolises admiration and innocence and the poppy is a symbol of consolation at a time of death. It is possible to sense the personalities of different flowers and intuitively choose one over another to fit our mood or the occasion. That is why we may send someone a bunch of bright yellow flowers to cheer them up or declare our fervent passion with two dozen velvety roses. There is even a dictionary on the language of flowers – “Dictionnaire du language des fleurs” by Joseph Hammer-Purgstall.
Flowers in rituals
Flowers have been used far back in history during funeral rituals and are a traditional way of honouring the dead. Many cultures draw a connection between flowers and life and death and because of their seasonal return, flowers also suggest rebirth, which may explain why many people place flowers upon graves. Rich and powerful women in ancient Egypt would wear floral headdresses and necklaces upon their death as representations of renewal and a joyful afterlife.
Flowers are also offered to some deities as a sign of love, respect, dedication and a surrender to their guidance.
Offering flowers to our ancestors
As we offer flowers to our ancestors as part of our ceremony on Emancipation Day, we are using them as tokens and symbols to express our deep love, affection, appreciation and respect. With flowers, we are celebrating their lives and paying homage to the contributions they have made towards liberation for people of Afrikan descent. We are giving thanks for their courage, vision and selfless commitment to freedom and we are opening our hearts and minds to their guidance, bravery and vision. We are honouring their sacrifice and renewing our commitment to continue the rebuilding of our kingdom in which there is Truth, Justice, Freedom and Happiness.
Written by Sister Queen Mother Myrna Belgrave of the Raj Yoga Centre
Invitation To The Bongani Festival: Two Miles To Emancipation
"Bongani" is a Zulu word meaning to be in a collective state of thankfulness. On Emancipation Day, August 1, 2017, we have much "esi ngaku bongela" (that we can be thankful for). We the people of Barbados finally have enough time for a focused day of emancipation celebrations. A large portion of the Pan-African communities of Barbados have come together to give you the 1st (prospectively annual), Bongani Festival. An event focusing on celebrating our struggles & more so triumphs as a people.
7:00 AM - To start off, we invite you to observe and take part in the traditional Emancipation Day honouring of General Bussa at 7am sharp. This is the annual ceremony you many have seen or heard about at the emancipation monument/statue of Bussa at the JTC Ramsay roundabout in Haggatt Hall, St. Michael. It's expected to last for about 1 hour to an hour and a half. We encourage you to bring a drum or instrument to play also flowers or some type of offering to honour Bussa.
8:30 AM - Following the honouring of General Bussa, we move our celebrations to the road, leaving Bussa and forming in a procession through some of the surrounding neighbourhoods, gathering as many people along the way as possible and making our way down to Blenheim Playing Field in the Ivy. This space will be home to our Emancipation Village, where the grounds will be transformed with the spirit of emancipation celebrations. The goal is bringing the celebration to the people and getting people out to partake in the celebrations. There is to be a shuttle service to take people back to their cars in Haggatt Hall if need be.
10:00 AM to 6:00 PM - The start of the main event at "Emancipation Village" - Blenheim Playing Field A, Ivy, St. Michael. There on the playing field will be the main stage with performances and speakers throughout the day. Surrounding the stage will be booths/stalls with food, drink, activities, arts, crafts and workshops