Though I am few days late with this post, I still wanted to share some thoughts on the well- known by now Flower Day held in Baku. The day as some of you already know is dedicated to Azerbaijan's late President, Heydar Aliyev (also for those who don't know, the father of the current president). As a "token" (you will see why its symbolically in quotation marks later) of appreciation, his son, Ilham Aliyev, announced in 2009, that May 10th, will be the Flower Day held to celebrate the birthday of Aliyev senior. And so, the spending spree began.
As if, Azerbaijan has nowhere else to spend its wealth (like education, social care, healthcare, and I could go on) and as if, the country is doing just fine with all its infrastructural developments (like having provided gas and electricity to all regions and villages of Azerbaijan, having sorted out sewage and trash issues across the country and I could still go on) our beloved, generous, official government began allocating the "tokens" or in another words, millions of Azerbaijani manats to host this day of joyous celebrations.
Since 2009, flowers of different sorts are imported to Azerbaijan to decorate Haydar Aliyev National Park and literally dress the whole park in flowers. I actually remember well the first Flower Parade. I was in Baku at that time and had the "honor" to see the park and snap few photographs. I just waned to capture that day as a proof of yet another initiative of wasted money (flowers are thrown away obviously, hence the conclusion, millions down the drain, its simple math). A year later, once again we celebrated Flower Day and so on and so forth.
Now this year, Baku city administration decided to add more spice to the celebrations. They have designed three giant air balloons with of course portraits of Haydar Aliyev on them attached to a boat (sailing boat). In an interview with local press, the city mayor proudly spoke of this year's magnificent show. Flowers were brought from Germany, France, Italy, Brazil with designers working 24/7 to complete re-decoration of the park just in time he was saying in an interview. And then he adds, smiling "I assure you, he is looking at us [referring to H. Aliyev's portrait of flowers] and smiling. I am telling you. For me personally, this is the greatest honor" (The full interview in text available here and video here- both are in AZ). No worries mr. mayor, the only thing looking at you that day was the heating sun and all those sane people who understand the absurdity of this holiday. The rest were... well... happy to be there probably not even knowing why they are there (trust me there are people who go just to see the flowers unaware why those flowers are actually there, but thats another story).
This video report [AZ] provides more detailed info about that day. According to the video, a group of young activists, held a protest to mock the flower day. Their poster read- "we don't need flowers, we want democracy".
Perhaps one day we are going to have more people understanding that indeed we do not need flowers. What we need instead is a democracy! I am just going to call this flower parade for now a democracy day- hoping that one day we are going to celebrate a true democracy festival in Azerbaijan!