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Innovation, their calling card

Wondering what's on the cards? Well... it's wedding cards created with an inventive flair

It's a style that bonds old world rituals with new age attitude. One that unifies outdated and up-to-date designs for a different look. So the simply-worded, kalyana patrikais on a pink plain sheet are giving way to `well-groomed' wedding cards in flashy get-up and with flowery expressions.

Call them bizarre or beautiful, they come in all shapes and sizes — in the form of a coconut, betel leaf, banana leaf or a royal scroll. Some even have paaku, akshadai and manjal kayaru pasted on them. And these creative cards come at a price — from Rs. 50 to Rs.150 each.

"Sometimes the ostentatious approach takes the form of an elaborate theme," says S. Shangara Lingam of Menaka Card. One of his Singapore-based clients not only had the wedding cards and covers done like a banana leaf, he also got tiny booklets about the banana tree printed and packed in banana-shaped bags. Mohammed Ali of Olympic Card went to the extent of shaping cards in the form of a pen and a bulb, for a wedding in the family of the manufacturers of these products.

Not just the designs, innovation extends to the material used — from handmade paper, colour and white board to plastic sheet and pana olai. "It depends on the effect you want to create and your budget," says Shangara Lingam.

"The practice of the family elders choosing the card is passé. The prospective brides and grooms now walk-in to scan the computer-generated creations and sometimes draw up their own design through a mix-n-match," he adds. "As most customers ask for something unusual and exclusive, we keep looking for fresh ideas. Our in-house designer team comes up with new concepts almost every week."

THE SWING CEREMONY: The bride and the groom sit on the Swing. Friends and relatives display their talent in classical music, providing festivity to the atmosphere. The swing signifies the ups and downs of life.

People's penchant for a perfectly planned wedding and their increased spending capacity have boosted the card business, says Faizal of Marvel Cards. "Size, shape, colour scheme, paper quality, wordings and even the cover, everything is worked out in detail and with a lot of imagination."

Today's status-conscious generation wants the cards to reflect ones taste and personality, says Mohammed Ali. "Besides, speedy delivery is also what they look for and with the designing done on computers even a 24-hour notice is not a tall order."

These card companies are a hit locally and also with NRIs. "We have at least 1000 varieties on our website. The NRI clients mail us their choice of design and other requirements. The proof and payment are worked out online. Later, the cards are sent through courier. We have customers in Australia, Germany, the U.K., U.S., Sri Lanka and Singapore," says Shangara Lingam.

In their bid to be rooted to the rituals and hold their own in a foreign land, they prefer a traditional touch to even their wedding cards, says G.R.Mahadevan of Artist Maya Wedding Card, who is more an artist than a hardcore businessman. He had worked with the Ananda Vikatan for more than 25 years doing sketches for stories of well-known writers such as Savi and Jayakanthan.

It was at his son's suggestion that he ventured into blending his art with business a year ago. What sets his work apart is the realistic recreation of the wedding scenes and ceremony in all its traditional splendour and capturing of the celebrations in colourful hues. Each card has a single or a collage of rituals — mapilai ayappu, unjal, nalangu and others that are part of South Indian weddings. Mahadevan's pictorial depiction are accompanied by brief descriptions in Tamil or English on the significance of our customs. "For the modern grooms and brides it is both innovative and informative," he says. Mahadevan also creates such works for people of other communities.

Wonder what more is on the cards!


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