CHENNAI: It is imperative that there be a Christmas tree and Santa Claus as part of the decorations, but how creative can you get with it? This seems to be the question which hotels around the city have brainstormed over these past few months. As a result, while Vivanta by Taj-Connemara has come out with a complete handcrafted set up, The Park has sourced real ferns to create a 10-feet Christmas tree. Meanwhile, The Leela Palace has imported an all-white mammoth of a tree all the way from Singapore.
Samrat Datta, general manager, Taj Connemara, says, “Every year, we try to innovate on the decorations. And since the architecture of the hotel itself gives an old world charm, given its history that dates back 160 years, we decided to bring in the traditional Indian handicrafts and weave it into the Christmas concept.” Samrat says that he took help from Deepa, who organises the exhibition By Hand, From the Heart annually, where artisans are given an opportunity to exhibit their handcrafted works. “She helped us source the handcrafted products from all across India,” he says.
The nativity scene includes infant Jesus, Mary, shepherds and villagers made of paper mache done by award-winning doll maker M S Ramani, the stable done with banana fibres and adorned with coloured pine cones. As far as the Christmas tree is concerned, he says, “The Tree Top Star was hand-woven with thread and dry twigs by an artisan in Odisha, and the sash of Tsunamika dolls wired around the tree were made by the children, who had experienced the wrath of the disaster in 2004, as a means of living in Auroville.” The dolls are a symbol of hope shared as a gift of friendship, he adds.
That apart, there are madhubani paintings on bottle holders and colourful reindeer made using the art form called chindi by artisans from Rajasthan. “Chindi is a term in Hindi that means traditional weaving with leftover scraps of cotton strips. It involves converting the used clothes into ropes and then make art pieces out of it,” says Samrat. The magic of the hand, he says, has also been extended to making cakes, gingerbread house, macaroons, red-velvet cake, yule log and plum pudding, that rest at the lobby.
Meanwhile, at the Park, around 70 real ferns have been sourced from the nursery in Nungambakkam, to stack up into a giant of a christmas tree, as part of the decorations. And to stand apart from the rest, Achal Aga, executive housekeeper, The Leela Palace, says they have imported a 12-feet white Christmas Tree made out of polyethene, from Singapore. “I have been to malls and hotels all across the city, everywhere I have seen only green Christmas trees. We wanted to do something different.”