Nature lovers are in for a treat November 15, 2013 onwards in the suburb of Borivali. Despite being surrounded by pollution in a city like Mumbai, people can not only enjoy nature at a greater proximity, but will also get an opportunity to learn a new art—the oriental art of miniaturizing trees known as Bonsai.
Borivali Sanskrutik Kendra (BSK), an NGO, will inaugurate Van Vihar garden, a green space measuring four-and-a-half acres; and in collaboration with the Bonsai Study Group of the Indo-Japanese Association, will also organise an exhibition of Bonsai there. The exhibition will be inaugurated on November 15 by Kiyoshi Asako and Sayaka Asako, the Consul General of Japan, Mumbai and Mohanbhai Patel, industrialist and former sheriff of Mumbai. It will be open to visitors on November 16 and 17. A drawing competition of the exhibited Bonsai has also been organised for school and college students.
“The event will have a dual purpose. It will give people from the western suburbs an opportunity to get closer to nature. On the other hand, they can actually learn a new art and cultivate a new interest,” said Sunil Ganpule, honorary vice-president, BSK. “The live exhibition of Bonsai will draw people to the garden, which offers many other facilities too,” he added. Indeed, the garden has a lot to offer. It has a walking track, which unlike other parks, is covered with special grass.
According to Ganpule, walking barefoot on grass has several health benefits. An acupressure track is also underway at the park. Apart from the track, members of the NGO have also planted more than 700 varieties of medicinal and aromatic plants in the garden.
BSK members have also installed a waste water recycle treatment plant at the garden, which generates 30,000 litre of treated water every day, from drainage water. This water is being used for watering the six acres of the forest garden, claim the members. What’s more, BSK has kept the park open to students, so that they can study in the garden without any hindrances.
Nikunj Parekh, 73, and Jyoti Parekh, 67, founders and directors of the Bonsai Study Group of the Indo-Japanese Association are glad to be associated with BSK for conducting this exhibition. The husband-wife duo feels that the inauguration of the garden and the subsequent Bonsai exhibition and demonstrations will help spread more awareness about Bonsai and encourage more people to participate in it. “In a city like Mumbai, it is practically impossible to stay close to nature.
Bonsai brings nature to us,” said Nikunj Parekh.
“Bonsai creates a micro environment through which we can appreciate a macro environment. The best part is that it enhances the virtues of patience, perseverance and helps people to de-stress.
You have to take care of these trees and provide them with nutrition, sunlight and air. Eventually, they become a part of your family,” he added. “This year, we are planning to rope in students and train them in the art of Bonsai. Our members will reach out to schools and colleges across the city to create awareness among the youth,” said Jyoti Parekh.
The Bonsai study group, which has been operating since 1979, has more than 23 chapters across India and Muscat. The group has 300 members in Mumbai and conducts regular sessions in town as well as the suburbs, every month, to share ideas and knowledge about the art. It also organises special sessions where Bonsai experts from different parts of the world share the latest developments in the field. Those that wish to learn the art can join the group by paying Rs. 1,400 a year.
Members of the group staying in the suburbs look forward to the sessions every month. Juhu resident Chand Kejriwal, another member of the group, has been practising this art for the last 25 years and is completely in love with it. “I was always fascinated by Bonsai and that’s the reason I took it up. Over the years, I have learnt different techniques of the art and I plan to continue it in the future too,” says Kejriwal, who also holds a degree in Ikepana, a Japanese flower arrangement.
Bandra resident Meeta Mehra has been practising Bonsai for the last eight years and enjoys it thoroughly. “Miniature old and mature trees look beautiful. It is a great way to bring people amidst nature and encourage greenery. For me, it’s a great stress buster,” says Mehra. She will also be displaying her Bonsai collection at Van Vihar garden. “The best part is that there is no room for politics during these sessions. We look forward to our field trips, which take place in different parts of the country. I have almost 80 odd trees and every time I go to my farmhouse, I bring a different plant to display in the building, so that more and more people can appreciate its beauty,” she says.