In a rare Jhula Fest happening in the city, there are myriad varieties with interesting stories behind them. By Ranjani Govind
Be it the Scottish novelist and poet Robert Louis Stevenson’s age-old poem asking children “How do you like to go up in the swing, Up in the air so blue” or the Indian dancer Pt. Birju Maharaj’s famed performance for “Jhoolat Radhe Naval Kishore” where his movements communicate the ‘soft tension’ of the ropes that hold the sway for Lord Krishna and his companion Radha…the swing (Uyyale in Kannada) has endured generations of thinking in the entire universe.
With many kinds that occupy our homes today, the swing is a metaphor linked with expectations, positivity and love. It is believed that a swing is symbolic of one’s souring desires touching the sky and alternately saluting the earth to stay balanced and rooted. A jhula or a swing is almost synonymous with relaxation and pleasant memories and they come in so many varieties – cradles, wooden planks, jhulas with back rests, decorated tiles or delicate carvings, swings with duco and distressed finishes, not to forget the newer versions of cane and wrought iron swings for outdoors.
To rightly take the history of the swingacross to people, Madhurya Creations on Kanakapura Main Road is presently holding a 10-day ‘Jhula Fest’ (from January 22 to 31), a rare showcase of nearly three dozen varieties where people can see, buy and take tips from creative interior designers, carpenters and polishers to have the exactitude in place. One can also get custom-made jhulas, as they will be displayed online concurrently (Madhurya.com).
Madhurya is into restorative work in arts, crafts and weaving, with furniture being one of the boutique’s forte. The in-house carpenters here either restore the sourced heritage furniture or replicate them in teak and rosewood. Speaking about the intention of having the Jhula Fest, Bharathy Harish, Coordinator, Madhurya Creations, says, “The jhula has always been an integral part of our childhood memories and is synonymous with relaxation and family time. So we thought it would be interesting to start the New Year on an optimistic note celebrating the swing.”
Just as the construction sector is seen waking up after the lull for almost a year, furniture and allied products for interior designing too are getting a boost. Given the fact that we are also witnessing more contemporary built spaces, do swings still continue to have an allure for the modern minds? “Cities like Mumbai may not retain them in smaller spaces, but other metros and cities with larger designed interiors have swings in open verandahs, below the skylights, as part of their dining and drawing or even as an artistic divide in a space that needs to be demarcated,” says architect and interior designer Leena Kumar, National Jt. Hon. Secretary, Indian Institute of Architects & Chairperson, ASSOCHAM GEM, Karnataka Chapter.
Leena says she sometimes finds people building a house, asking for swings. “It’s in the people’s wish-list to have a swing. We do not push anyone into having one. Of course a swing reputably gels in all conditions of décor – ethnic or modern. One has to decide on the kind of swing – decorative or plain in wood or metal ones for outdoor.”
But is it critical to decide on having a swing during the construction stage? “A jhula can be fixed in retrospect also, provided it is anchored into a beam. It is not recommended to be anchored into a slab directly as they may be substantially heavy. It is best, however, if its location is pre-determined and hooks already in place during construction,” says Leena.
Leena says people hardly think that having a fixed element in a décor is stale. “In fact we all know it takes up space as the movement of the swing has to be considered. But give people options of a decorated or carved door, they still choose a swing for all the positives associated with wood and the jhula,” says Leena. “Perhaps this is the best way to patronise the native artisans to revive the fading traditional art forms and skill sets from ancient India, post the pandemic!”
P. Rajaiah, originally from Rudrapatna near Hassan district who has three swings installed at his home in Rajarajeshwari Nagar, says “The huge wooden rectangle piece that hangs in the drawing room with brass trimmings and a supporting cushion is often seen with my kids happily swinging. Late in the evening the family is around it for a gossip session. This has been going on for generations.”
Achyut Yagnik and Suchitra Seth, in their book ‘Ahmedabad: From Royal City to Megacity’, note how the jhula, also called the hinchka or hindol, is “ubiquitous in Hindu, Muslim and Jain homes. The jhula was one thing most homes had in common, woven into the fabric of Gujarati life, apart from carved wooden cradles handed down generations.”
At Madhurya’s Jhula Fest, there will be several varieties, sizes, designs, accessories and subject experts to advise customers. “You can choose to accessorise with furnishings according to your requirements. There will be a parallel online offering. And the offline fest will follow all safety and social distancing norms,” says Bharathy.
(Jhula Fest, January 22 to 31, @Madhurya Store, AOL premises, Kanakapura Main Road – www.madhurya.com / 70191 38680)