'Thamara Chettan' survives on flower plucking job for 30 yrs
Kottayam: Kumarakom native James answers any questions about lotus. For him, lotus is not only a flower, but the source of food for his family too. James has been engaged in the job of plucking lotus and water lily flowers from Kannadichal fields for about 30 years. The flowers are given to the buyers and foreign tourists. He is fondly called 'Thamara Chettan' in the locality.
James said that the flood havoc and COVID outbreak have affected lotus sales this year. Due to the climate change, lotus flowers are only beginning to bloom. Lotus starts blooming from Malayalam month of Chingam and it continues for three months. People from different places arrive to watch the beautiful sight. Lotus is not only used for decoration and bouquet making, but for medicinal purposes also.
James manages to make the ends meet with the earnings from plucking lotus flowers. Though he goes for fishing sometimes, the major income is through lotus plucking. He wears a special coat, long pants and gloves while entering the lotus fields. This is to avoid the attack of small creatures in water.
Even after taking effort to collect the flowers, James is never greedy for money. He takes whatever people offers when the flowers are given. Some foreign tourists give him a decent amount in return. People also book flowers in advance for wedding purposes.
As James is totally dependent on lotus flowers, he is in the forefront of protecting lotus plants. Though there were water lily already, the lotus plants was propagated after a person started growing it in the fields near his house 15 years ago. With this, the plant spread to all fields in the place.
Lotus flowers blooms by 8 in the morning. Half-bloomed flowers has more demand than the full-bloomed ones. If the flower is kept in water, it will last for five days. James is also a good reader and a fan of Mathrubhumi weekly. He said that it was Mathrubhumi that brought him the stories of many eminent writers including M Mukundan.