Terracotta handicrafts and vessels, bamboo trinkets, organic grains, herbs and pulses up for sale. Children running around playing with natural stick and wheel toys made using Palmyra palm leaves. An array of fresh and dried herbs displayed along with lemon and betel leaves on a table to welcome guests. Green flex boards made of cotton and paper welcoming guests and announcing the wedding set to take place.Logeswaran and Geetanjali Ritika’s wedding on Thursday in Tirupur came with a twist – it was 100% green, right from the decorations to the plates used and the gifts given to guests.
"Everything was naturally produced, including plates which were made of maize, and glasses made of copper, instead of paper and plastic cups," explains Ravi, Geetanjali's father.
Ravi is a key volunteer of Vanathukul Tirupur, a three-year old organisation that works to increase the green cover of Tirupur district. Since its inception, Vanathukul Tirupur has planted over 5 lakh trees across the district, he says.With the help of this organisation, Ravi was able to turn his daughter's wedding in a completely green affair.
"We – the members of Vanathukul Tirupur – conceived the idea and the smooth execution too is thanks to them,' Ravi tells TNM.
To those who wonder how nature friendly the wedding actually was, Ravi says that everything right from the water that was used organically procured.
"We harvested rainwater to serve drinking water to guests and for the food prepared for the wedding. Over 10 varieties of vegetables – from carrots and onions to chillies – were used to make the wedding feast, all of which was cultivated organically in the houses of Vanathukul Tirupur members itself," he adds.
The idea behind this, he explains, was to revive the traditional way of celebrating and hosting weddings, with material available from nature. His colleague, Kumar Duraiswamy, the project director of Vanathukul Tirupur, to endorses this and explains this further.
Kumar says that even the food that was prepared conformed to the organic theme of the wedding and a vast array of herbal teas, organic gravies and homemade traditional sweets were served.
"We ditched ice-creams and beedis (paan), and instead served herbal tea for dessert. The wedding menu included maize potato bonda, mini banana blossom vadai for starters and idly, horse gram sambhar rice, tomato sambhar and other preparations for mains. The dessert spread had palm sugar dry ginger milk, herbal tea, mint lemon juice, wild banana, betel nut and slaked lime," Duraisamy adds.
Other sweets such as gram flour Mysore Pak, foxtail millet coconut barfi and green gram jaggery laddoo were also available for guests to relish. The hosts invited 12 shopkeepers to display their organic wares from which the guests could purchase what they wished.
"We wanted to set up a network for these shopkeepers and help them sell their products. On the other hand, people were sensitised about using organic products over plastic and artificially produced stuff," Ravi adds. And this created a huge impact among the people, who thronged to the wedding hall to witness the festivities.
"We invited 3500 guests, but the wedding attracted such a huge buzz that 2500 uninvited guests ended up coming to see what was going on here," he says.
Coming from a farming background, Ravi says that there was nothing unusual about his daughter’s wedding, contrary to popular perception these days.
"Back in the day, maybe even 30-40 years ago, weddings used to be hosted with naturally available products. It is only now that paper and plastics are being used indiscriminately for celebrating any function," he says.
Ravi's daughter – the bride – and her groom, Logeshwaran, are both engaged in Tirupur's thriving garment business. The duo too actively support the organic and natural ways of living and, therefore, wanted to set an example with their wedding.
To top it all off, the groom was gifted a cow and a calf instead of the usual luxury car or bike, which is the norm in most weddings nowadays.
"It was all traditional. Usually, the girl is sent with a cow and calf. Now, the cattle have been replaced with posh cars. We decided to go back to how it was done before," Ravi smiles.
(With inputs from Manasa Rao)