By Nishtha Shukla October 2003 After the wind chimes, lucky bamboos, also a Feng Shui favourite, have become a rage. Painstakingly designed to grow in certain shapes, the bamboo is as much a visual treat as a means to help positive energy flow Aren’t these lovely? Feng Shui ‘lucky bamboo’ (botanical name Dracaena) is said to facilitate the flow of positive energy. Bamboos are being innovatively grafted across the globe for ornamental purposes too—in houses, hotel lobbies, restaurants and corporate offices. These decorative plants are carefully and painstakingly designed to grow into shapes that are aesthetic, exotic and different.Feng Shui, the ancient Chinese practice of bringing the five elements of water, fire, earth, wood and metal into balance in our surroundings, is now seen as ‘an eco-art dealing with conservation, orientation and spatial arrangement’. Apart from bringing good fortune, Feng Shui is also responsible for introducing a range of products that are always in good taste. Bamboo is the new rage, the price ranging from a few hundred rupees to over a thousand.Considered lucky, the bamboo is valued as a perfect symbol of the wood element, which is defined by tall, thin, vertical shapes and the colour green. When the requirement is of wood and water, it is perfect for a house because it can grow in plain drinking water. It is said to have an influence on life energy, growth, vitality and physical activity.Because of its sturdy and flexible nature, the bamboo has been traditionally used in the Orient from being a tool for daily chores to being used for construction. It is therefore deeply rooted in the lives of the people here. In India, it is also used for making objects like flutes and candle casings. The Greater Kailash I N-block outlet of Cottons in New Delhi has a collection of such candles.The distinctly Chinese lucky bamboos are live sticks that work as good luck and auspicious symbols. “Collecting bamboo is becoming a rage, a passion with people these days,” says Ashish Agarwal, Feng Shui and Destiny Master Practitioner. He is a consultant at Ceramics at the Greater Kailash I M-Block market, a store that also sells Feng Shui products. “The popularity of bamboos is such that many people are not even worried about their Feng Shui aspect,” reports he, “they just love it and therefore buy it.”Bamboo sticks are variously knitted and layered for beauty. The shoots are usually accompanied by delicate mint-green leaves here and there.Spiral bamboos are the most popular and come in different sizes. These are stalked in odd numbers, depending on what your Feng Shui practitioner prescribes. In general, three stalks attract happiness, five is for wealth, seven for good health and 21 for all-round blessings.The dancing bamboos, selling fast these days, are an ornate variety that is tall with stems spiralling into graceful shapes. There are also miniature plants that have two to five layers arranged beautifully. And then there is the lucky bamboo dollar sign that is made using two straight bamboo sticks and one spiral curl stick. A cut branch of Japanese maple goes well with the lucky bamboo to make great Ikebana arrangements.The unusual curls of the stick come from a clever manipulation in the farms where young and tender plants are made to grow towards light. They are then periodically rotated to get the desired curls.Delhi-based garment designer Lorain Chopra has bamboos of all hues flourishing on her terrace garden. She says: “I perceive the bamboo as highly auspicious. It symbolises longevity and protection, and is a symbol of endurance.” Ashish Agarwal says that the condition of your bamboo can tell you how you are progressing. If a stick is dying and yellow, then you are not doing well. The yellow stick that has absorbed the negativity around should be thrown away. On the other hand, a growing bamboo shows prosperity.The bamboo is placed in the southeast direction for wealth and in the East for health. The plant requires no sunlight. It grows naturally under the canopy of wet tropical rain forests.For a contemporary effect, bamboo plants are placed in crystal vases with assorted pebbles. Green and beautiful, they also go well with a flower arrangement. Red ribbons, that symbolise the element of fire, are often wrapped around the shoots. The addition of fire is said to assist in ‘igniting’ the desired positive results.The plant is never placed in the bedroom, toilet or the kitchen and certainly not in the balcony because excess sunlight can harm it. Bonsais are considered unlucky in Feng Shui because they represent stunted growth. In any case, it is good to consult an expert before you decide where you want to place your plant.Some sticks are cut clean from the top joints where they sprout again within three months during summers. During winters, the sprouts, leaves and roots grow slowly.How its significance works for people is best summed up in Lorain’s statement: “The bamboo is considered the perfect metaphor for humanity and life. It endures through the coldest of winters and the hottest of summers. When the wind blows, it bends with the flow, sometimes bending as low as the ground itself. This signifies the way difficulties should be faced.”
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