Remarks by H.E. Mr. Sadaaki Numata, Ambassador of Japan at the Prize Distribution Ceremony of Annual Chrysanthemum and Autumn Flowers Show at Rose and Jasmine Gardens on 25 November 2000

Mr. Rafi-ud-din, Secretary, National Horticultural Society of Pakistan:

Honourable Members of National Horticultural Society of Pakistan:

Distinguished Participants and Guests:

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Assalaam-o-Alaikum

Flower Show 4.JPG (30504 bytes)I am delighted to be here at the Rose and Jasmine Gardens, among the beautiful arrays of chrysanthemums and other autumn flowers so painstakingly and lovingly brought together by the gardeners.   I really appreciate this moment of respite from the tensions of work and modern day living.

I wish Maj. Gen M. Shuaib Qureshi, Chief Organizer of the show, could have been with us today.   I was very saddened to hear of his sudden indisposition, and wish to extend to him, together with all of you, our sincerest appreciation for the tremendous efforts that he has made for the successful holding of this show, and our prayers for his early recovery.   We eagerly await his prompt return to his mission of breathing beauty and freshness in the lives of the citizens of Islamabad through the medium of flowers.

 When I entered the Rose and Jasmine Garden today, I saw a plaque with a quote from Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan.   I will attempt to convey it in Urdu, hoping that you will forgive my failings in my painfully slow effort to learn your beautiful language. "Yaad rakhiye aap ki hakoomat aap kay zaati bagh ki manind hai. Aap kay bagh kay phalnay phoolnay aur parwan charhnay ka inhisar iss par hai kay aap iss ki kitni nighebani kartay hain". (Remember that the government is like your personal garden.  The health and beauty of your garden depends on the amount of effort you put in for its care) 

That plaque reminded me of another statesman who cared as much for his garden as for his government.  When I was with the Japanese Embassy in in Washington DC, USA, about twenty years ago, I enjoyed visiting Mount Vernon in Virginia, which used to be the residence of George Washington, the first President of the United States.   Under his clear instruction to the citizens of the newly- born nation, Mount Vernon, together with its beautiful garden, has been maintained in perfect order for the past two hundred years, and serves today as a national monument and a source of pride to the American people.      

It is indeed gratifying to see the motto of the National Horticultural Society of Pakistan “Beauty Through Flowers” come alive today, with the truly impressive displays of chrysanthemums and other autumn flowers. 

I must congratulate the organizers and contestants for putting up such a wonderful exhibition.

             The idea of “Beauty Through Flowers” is very much alive in Japan as well.  In Japan, people regard flowers as not only the object of beauty and admiration, but also as symbols which reflect the passing of time and the feelings of their own hearts.  Japanese Haiku and Waka (short poems somewhat like nazam in Urdu) are replete with such descriptions of flowers. The chrysanthemum, in particular, has a special place in all this.

 In ancient Japan there were originally about 20 different wild varieties of chrysanthemum. Afterwards, more varieties thereof were additionally introduced to Japan from China in the 5th century for medicinal purposes. Chrysanthemums became popular among the common people in the Edo period (1600-1868), during which time many varieties were developed and growing techniques were perfected. Then in the Meiji period in the last century, many varieties of European chrysanthemums were also imported through China. Nowadays many new strains of chrysanthemum are being developed in Japan.

           The chrysanthemum has long been considered as a symbol of nobility, and the crest of the Imperial Household is a stylised representation of a chrysanthemum blossom.   It has also been used as a symbol of the Japanese culture.  In 1946, Ruth Benedict, a well-known American cultural anthropologist, published a book on Japan entitled “The Chrysanthemum and The Sword”, which has been a must reading for many students of Japanese studies.

            It is heartening to see that the Japanese art of flower arrangement is also becoming very popular in Pakistan.  As you maybe aware, the Embassy in cooperation with various cultural organizations is holding the Pakistan-Japan Friendship Fest from October 2000 to March 2001.  The Embassy plans to hold Ikebana workshops and demonstrations in Islamabad, Lahore and Peshawar in March next year. I hope that many of you will attend these workshops to diversify your skills in achieving “Beauty Through Flowers” in your own homes, and compete in flower arrangement competitions.

 To conclude, I would like once again to thank the Pakistan Horticultural Society, especially Maj. General Shuaib for inviting me to this ceremony, and Mr. Rafi-ud-din for all the hard work that he has put in.  Thanks to them, we can all feel happy in the knowledge that flowers can make our homes so khoshgawaar (pleasant).

 Bahot Shukriya. (Thank you)

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