On Sunday, some peasants from villages near the city got a good income due to heavy demand for ‘ketaki' flowers on the eve of Sivaratri. ‘ketaki' is a variety of kewra or Screw Pine with botanical name ‘Pandanus fascicularis'. These flowers are being sold at Rs. 200 to Rs. 350 per piece in Berhampur market. Kewra is abundant in Ganjam district as it is the largest producer of this aromatic flower in the country. But bushes of ‘ketaki' variety of kewra are less in Ganjam district.
According to Natabar Sahu, leader of kewra growers' association of Ganjam district, there is a distinct difference between the leaves and flower of ‘kia' and ‘ketaki' variety of kewra flower. One major difference is that ‘kia' flowers have strong smell, while that of ‘ketaki' is mild.
Religious belief related to Sivaratri increases demand and price of ‘ketaki' flowers. It is the only day on which these flowers are offered to Lord Siva. Moreover, these flowers only bloom during this time of the year. This is the main reason behind their increased price and demand before Sivaratri. Most of the sellers of these flowers are from rural pockets, who are doing business piling up their stock by the side of major roads.