Ikebana is her way of life
In Hyderabad, when you utter the word “Ikebana”, there’s only one lady that will come to your mind – Rekha Reddy. It’s been about 30 years since she’s been practicing this art of flower arrangement and has been the President of both the Ikebana International Hyderabad Chapter#250 [2008-2012] as well as the Hyderabad Ohara Chapter [2004-2008]. Rekha gets talking to Deeksha Marur about all things Ikebana and how she got into in the first place. Excerpts.
Can you give us a little brief on what Ikebana is and how it came into Hyderabad/ India?
Ikebana is the Japanese art of flower arrangement that stems from the love of nature. It has its roots in Buddhism which spread starting in the 6th century to the East. In Japan where their love for nature is intrinsic [Shinto shrines also have worship of nature] Buddhist priests used to place floral offerings in the shrines. Later they started placing branches in a vase, along with flowers. Over the years it became an art form called Ikebana. Initially it was done by the priests, then the noble men in Japanese courts and then spread to the common man and world over. The Ikebana International which started in 1956 took Ikebana outside of Japan and all over the world. Horyu Meena Anantnarayan, a Grandmaster of the Ohara School was instrumental in bringing this art to Hyderabad and was one of the pioneers of Ikebana in India.
What drew you towards starting Ikebana and how long have you been into it?
I have been watching my mother Shamala do flower arrangement since I was a child and probably that was why I was drawn to it. I did my Masters in Nutrition, had two gold medals for topping in the university and had my PhD seat. Life took its own course after that and I ended up doing Ikebana as a hobby, which became a passion. I started training formally with Meena Aunty, a wonderful teacher, in the early eighties and started teaching since 1995. Being in this filed has given me opportunity to spread the pleasant art form in and outside Hyderabad. The Hyderabad Chapter of Ohara School which started in 1983 and the Ikebana International Hyderabad Chapter #250 which started in 1997 have active members who have taken this art forward.
What usually goes on in your mind while creating an arrangement? How do you get the idea of how the arrangement should be?
The mind is at peace and feelings serene while making a flower arrangement. At the same time the creative aspects of the mind start flowing looking at simple branches and flowers. The way these can be arranged into a beautiful pleasing form is rewarding. Even while teaching or demonstrating, especially to a new audience, the look of wonder on the faces of those watching the arrangement unfold is worth every effort put in. The place, occasion or material in hand will guide the mind and hands giving an idea of the arrangement to come.
It is said that there’s spiritual side to doing Ikebana? Can you explain how?
There is a lot of Zen philosophy which you can relate to while doing Ikebana. As it is said, ‘Ikebana is a way of life” It gives peace and improved tolerance, both so important in today’s fast pace and many times stressful world. Like many other art forms, it is food for the soul. Inculcating the love for nature and spirit of Ikebana in children is valuable for them. Every child has a storehouse of creativity in them. Practicing this art form brings about a sense of calm and sharpens senses in a subtle way.
There are different schools under Ikebana, which school do you come under and could you tell us more about the different schools.
The oldest school of Ikebana is the Ikenobo School. In Hyderabad, the Ohara School is the most popular one and has a beautiful blend of traditional and modern form arrangements. The landscape arrangements of the Ohara School are legendary. It is about 120 years old with Hiroki Ohara as the headmaster. There are many others like the Ichiyo, Sogetsu, Chiko, Saga Goryu, Wafu, Misho Ryu School etc.