In an age where the magnificence of big fat Indian weddings are foretold by elaborate wedding cards, a budding trend — defying all stereotypes — is on the rise. Modern-day brides and grooms are approaching marriage customs with a more eco-friendly outlook and opting for innovative and useful wedding cards.
So when Niharika and Abhinav decided to get married, their parents pleasantly surprised the guests with a unique invitation. The invite came rolled up with a piece of string and the message was printed on handmade papers imbedded with tulsi, parijat and cotton seeds. Instead of just chucking the card into the bin, it could be planted in moist soil and watered regularly to give life to the young seeds.
The brilliant idea came from Niharika’s uncle, Dr K. Venkatesham, Police Commissioner of Nagpur and his wife Mamatha. “We came across this artist who was working on this seed-imbedded paper, and we thought it would be a great idea for a wedding card. Guests can keep the plant as a memory of the wedding. Along with the card, we also gave organic honey. It’s a good omen to give sweets to people but we cannot really do so since some many may be having diabetes or some others may be watching their weight. Organic honey is healthy, sweet and can be used any time without the fear of it getting spoilt,” shares Dr Venkatesham.
The artists who created the special paper with seeds are Lalit Vikamshi and Shweta Bhattad. Explaining the initiative, Lalit says, “This is a part of the Gram Art Project that we have started. It aims to work on various issues related to rural India, mainly focusing on art activities, working with the community, issues related to women, farmer exchange programmes and water. This is the second wedding order that we are catering to and the seeds are bought directly from the farmers and have more than 90 per cent success rate. The paper is handmade by the sisters and mothers of the farmers, thereby providing employment to many.”
Notably, a gifting store in the city, which uses only handmade paper, has also dabbled in this area. Deckle Edge also includes seed-embedded papers for a few wedding invites and people are loving the idea. “People are increasingly getting conscious about the planet and it is great to see that getting translated into weddings. There is often a question about how to discard the cards appropriately because usually there’s an image of Ganesha on it and it may be disrespectful to throw it away. So this is a smart solution for it,” says Renu Rao, the owner of Deckle Edge.
She adds, “Another way that people are trying to avoid wastage is by making wedding cards that can be upcycled. We have made wedding cards which double up as photo frames so it doesn’t need to be discarded.”
Mallika of wedding planning company Pandoras says, “People these days are increasingly turning towards a no-wastage policy, even for weddings. I have had customers who have calculated the amount of money it costs to print and send out wedding cards and they’re donating that money to a cause that’s dear to them. They send e-cards to their guests instead. It’s about cutting down on waste and contributing to a cause that will actually make a difference in the long run.”
Producer Ashwini Dutt’s daughter, Priyanka Dutt, who got married a few years ago, also opted to send out organic baskets as wedding gifts. A beautifully crafted box contained organic products that were close to her heart. Priyanka had come across these products during her travels. A personal message written by her explained the contents in the box: “Honey from Uttrakhand, cinnamon from Cochin, homemade pure almond oil, walnuts from Jammu and traditional bath powder personally crafted from green gram by her cousin, tulsi, neem, turmeric, a face pack of rose petals and orange peels, along with homemade chocolates from Ooty.”
On asking why she chose these products, Priyanka says, “I wanted to give some pure things that I came across in my life while travelling. It’s crazy how we are taking the earth for granted... My travels have really changed my perspective, so I wanted to start somewhere and my wedding was a perfect chance to give people a taste and smell of organic things.”
However, Rajiv Lulla, Founder and CEO of Capricon Gifting Solutions, says that it is not just in weddings that a green transformation is taking place. “We offer pencils that are 100 per cent biodegradable and non-toxic. The outer covering is recycled from old newspapers. People are also gifting our pencils which have a seed embedded at the very end of the body. Once the pencil is sharpened to the very end, instead of just throwing the rest away, one can go zero waste by just planting what’s left in the soil and make the world a greener place. Cumin, mustard, fenugreek, basil, tomato, chilli and fennel seeds are embedded in the pencils,” he says.
Actress Samantha Ruth Prabhu has also been championing for the cause of handlooms and as a part of the Woven Fashion Show 2017, Anam Mirza’s event company, The Businesswalas, curated invitation boxes filled with organic goodies. “Since it was a handloom event, we gave small notebooks with a handloom fabric on the cover. There was a terrarium, an organic chocolate fudge and an almond and date fudge that people seemed to enjoy,” says Anam, adding that she has also received a wedding invitation along with a bag of seeds in the recent times.
When it comes to the tulsi plant or its seeds, it’s considered extremely auspicious. Perhaps this is why giving out tulsi seeds, be it embedded into a paper or on a bag, is a popular gifting choice these days. Anju Poddar, who has authored the book A Wedding in the House: Ceremonies Relating to Weddings & Childbirth, explains, “Scientifically, Tulsi is very powerful since it makes the soil fertile, has great anti-oxidant properties and since it has high levels of mercury content, it is placed in the aangan of a house so if there is lighting around the house, the plant will attract it towards it and will prevent it from striking the house. In Hinduism, legend is that Tulsi is the manifestation of goddess Laxmi. When lord Vishnu was courting Ganga, Saraswati got jealous and brought her to the ground. Laxmi went to the rescue of Ganga, only to get cursed by Saraswati that she would be born on earth as a plant. Then, lord Vishnu lifted the curse, and said that while Laxmi need not be bound to the ground, a part o
of her will remain in a Tulsi plant. Thus, Tulsi signifies Goddess Laxmi.”