The Mumbai chapter of Ohara School of Ikebana celebrated its 45th year in the running by inviting renowned flower designer, Christopher Lim. He has been creating floral designs for the last 30 years. The pro gave a demonstration of his skills to a packed audience, who were so engrossed that they actually gasped when one of the design seemed about to break.
Explaining the meaning of the word 'Ikebana', Nalini Doongursee, NCPA resident and the President of Ohara School of Ikebana, Mumbai, said, “The word comes from the Japanese words ‘Ikeru’ which means ‘keep alive’ and ‘hana’ which means 'flower'.” Talking about the history of the art, Doongursee said, “This art is believed to have originated in Japan. The first teachers and students of the art were the Buddhist monks, who practiced it.” The first Ikebana school was Ikenobo, which is around 500 years old. It is from this place that this art actually began to flourish and spread. The old form of Ikebana is called ‘Kuge’ and the modern style is known as ‘Sugetsu’.
Talking about the Ohara School of Ikebana, Mumbai, Doongursee informed, “The Mumbai chapter of the Ohara School of Ikebana was started by a group of Indian women, who had travelled to Japan and were very impressed by this floral art. They decided to learn the art in Japan and spread it in India. They came and founded this school in Mumbai.
On talking about his foray into the art of Ikebana, Lim said, “I actually got into it accidently. I always liked flowers but had never thought of being a flower designer. I was still in college, studying economics and statistics, when on one Mothers’ Day I made a bouquet for my mother. When one of my professors saw the bouquet, he was very impressed, and suggested that I learn Ikebana. My first major project was for the Changi Airport in Singapore.”
Lim is the fastest Ikebana designer in the world and he shares that speed depends on planning. Irrespective of the complexity of the structure, he can finish any design in five minutes. He is one of the only two people in the world who have degrees in both Sugetsu and AIFD (American Institute of Flower Designing). He has given thousands of demonstrations all across the globe and never ever repeated a single design. His reason being, “Different countries have different materials; this often poses a challenge but I love the fact that I get to make different designs every time I give a demo.”
The Ohara School of Ikebana, Mumbai, offers 11 different types of diplomas to its students and the time period to complete one diploma ranges from one to five years. One year for the basic course and three to five years for the advance courses. “A lot of our students have also become teachers.
To become a teacher one has to first finish the basic course then work as an assistant teacher and only after the fourth year is the student allowed to appear for the teacher exam," said Doongursee. She also thanked all her predecessors who had ran the school in Mumbai before her and concluded by saying, “To start something is easy but to sustain it is difficult.”