Decades ago, a Kerala wedding was marked by simple yet tasteful decorations where the coconut played the king. A pandal made of dried coconut leaves, festoons made of green coconut leaves and tiny, tender coconuts - these were the only signs of opulence at weddings in a bygone era.
However, with money power and changing trends, the humble coconut had to give way for expensive decorations and stage settings, worth lakhs of rupees.
It's not just the money. After the event is over, the decorations - which are mostly made from non biodegradable materials - are trashed and add to the country's waste disposal problems.
Further, it isn't only weddings from where coconut-based decorations have disappeared. Previously, for political meetings or any other public events, special designs made from coconut leaves were ubiquitous. These have now given way for colourful plastic hangings.
But there is an event management company in Kochi which helps those who wish to reverse this trend.
At a recent wedding reception that they managed, the decorations were made entirely with coconut leaves and bunches of tender coconuts that brought back a whiff of the past. The charm and elegance of these simple decorations were not lost on the guests.
Speaking to TNM, Justin Joseph who owns Day Maker Events, said, "Many ask for a green wedding these days. People show concern over the use of plastics and other non biodegradable materials for the decorations. So, we thought why not go back to the past and our valuable traditions!"
To procure the decorations, Justin's company approached a group based in Alappuzha that makes craft items out of leaves.
"In the last wedding, the couple had asked for a green wedding. So, we approached a group in Alappuzha that makes coconut leaf crafts. Anuraj and his team in Alappuzha used to make these craft items for films, but they have now started providing these for various events, too," Justin added.
The company went the whole hog for the wedding. The entrance to the hall, the stage and even the para, which is filled with paddy during the wedding rituals, were made with coconut leaves.
And that's not all!
“We decorated the cake using leaves and the food was served on leaf trays. Guests were gifted with coconut leaf caps and flower girls carried flowers in vases made of leaves. On the stage, we also kept bunches of tender coconuts, in the style we used to see in rural weddings of the past," he said.
The appeal of such a wedding lies not just in the beauty of the decorations. The benefits go beyond that.
“It is environment friendly and it benefits farmers, too," Justin points out. "Above all, the cost is very less compared to other types of decorations. Disposal after use will also not be an issue."
Justin noted that Day Maker Events had adopted environment friendly decorations since its inception. They had, however, been using cloth and jute instead of plastic.
According to specifications, the cost of coconut leaf decorations for a wedding can range between Rs 15000 and 75000.