Start the traditional new year with some decorative ideas to help take the rut out of long-followed festival traditions, says Radha Prathi
Tomorrow will see a change in the Saturday routine of most families – some will wake up early – to offer special prayers, to cook sumptuous meals and welcome or visit dear ones. But more importantly, all these activities will be preceded by (from tonight, in all probability) a round of complete and thorough cleaning of the house. Why?
Because it is Ugadi, the new year and a new beginning. Traditional Indians who follow the lunar calendar are all set to celebrate their very own indigenous new year. Since we spend the best part of the day at home on this auspicious occasion, entertaining our dear ones, it is always a good idea to do up our space to earmark the festivities.
Even if you happen to be living in a gated community or apartment complex and choose to celebrate the festivals in the common community hall or basement, you can still create an amiable and traditional atmosphere, which will give a glimpse of our culture and creativity. Here are a few ideas that you can work upon this new year:The ground rule for any decor begins with cleaning up the premises thoroughly.
Take stock of items like photographs, wall clocks, curtains, bedspreads, cabinets, crockery, furniture, among other things, and rearrange them within your home. You can feel a sense of freshness by simply changing their locations in your surroundings. If you have a pile of unused gifts and new items, bring them out of hibernation and use them appropriately. This exercise will spread a positive energy for it will make you realise how loved you are, whenever you associate the articles with the person who presented it to you.
Rummage your closet and fish out the photographs taken on previous Ugadis or rare pictures of family and friends, and display them at vantage points. If you have one too many pictures, it will be a good idea to make a scrap board of them. Creating a nostalgic conversation piece can prove to be therapeutic.
Add some colour
A colourful rangoli at the doorstep and one in front of the deities is considered a must in our culture. We will be welcoming manmatha samvatsara this Ugadi. So you will do well to include the name of the year in a semicircular form at the head of the rangoli. If you are pressed for time or ability, use it to your advantage. Draw the outline of the writing and design with a chalk or a crayon.
This method will help you erase and make corrections as and when necessary. Fill the outlines and segments with flowers and leaves or food grains. Sea shells, sequins, shredded cloth waste can also be used alternately. Light some traditional diyas or fragrant tea light candles around the rangoli towards dusk to enhance the ambience.
Put up a traditional thorana of fresh mango leaves and bracket it with a bunch of neem leaves at your doorstep. Long lengths of marigold or artificial flowers can be used to drape the frame of the main door to enhance the festive look.
You could arrange flowers in vases and intersperse them between the pots. Or you could very simply stick little bunches of neem leaves in the wet soil of the pots for a change. If you have potted plants and shrubs, place them around the living area and outside the prayer room. You could trail serial lights over these plants. Stick lighted incense sticks in the pots. Not only will this exercise create a fragrant atmosphere, but also keep the mosquitoes at bay.
Lay out the food
The prasada and food items that are meant for sharing and distributing can be arranged tastefully, adding to the decor. Clear your dining table, push it against the wall for a day and use it as your decorative handyman. Place several bottles of drinking water and some trays along the wall.
Display you prized crystal or silverware or some fancy bowl by keeping the traditional bevu bella (neem and jaggery) in it. Sliced and serrated mango slices could be arranged like the petals of a flower around a little bowl consisting of salt and chilli powder. The holige could be folded as cones and placed one over other forming little conical pyramids.
Dishes like payasam, pachchadi and kosambari will look very appealing if stored in glass or silverware. Keep a bowl of cashew nuts ready so that you can dress your payasam every time you scoop some out. Do not forget to garnish the pachchadi and kosambari with curry leaves time and again. Paper cups and plates could be placed along the borders of the table.
Traditional tamboolam items can double up as Ugadi decor with a little imagination. Clear a table for this purpose. Instead of using a regular table cloth, bring out that lovely silk sari with intricate zari work and spread it over the table. Cover the sari with a clear plastic sheet so that it will not get stained or damaged. It is time to use your silver, crystal, brass or fancyware to keep haldi, kumkum, akshata, betel leaves, betel nuts, flowers, coconuts and fruits.
Arrange the items tastefully in floral patterns on large plates or trays in the order of their use. You could leave a couple of beautiful trays alongside. These items have a tendency to leave some dregs behind. Make sure that you wipe the tray every time before the next use. If you are planning to give gifts to your visitors, remember to wrap them in happy colours. And how about stacking them on the table?