Chinese New Year Memories: Nga Ku

When preparations for Chinese New Year comes around, there are always recurring things on the to-do list: cookies and tidbits for the onslaught of guests, spring-cleaning, and decorating to name a few. But one of the tasks demands planning ahead; that is, in order for it to step up onto the stage when the big day comes, it has to be dressed and rehearsed a good while before.

This task, which my parents are excellent directors of, is the planting and cultivating of the arrowhead plants. To green-thumbed aficionados and botanists, this plant is called the sagittaria latifolia, to most laymen over here on this side of the world it is called 'nga ku'. In order to plant them, one has to place bulbs into shallow water. According to my parents, the bulbs have to be placed in sunny areas until they began to sprout shoots, which is a sign that they need to be taken away from direct sunlight or the leaves burn.

What my sister and I are assigned to is 'dressing' the 'nga ku', which obviously occurs after the 'nga ku' has reached its optimum beauty (glossy, bright leaves and strong stems that insist on reaching for the stars). We pinch off itty-bitty bits of red paper, wind them around the stems of the 'nga ku' and glue them to place. The result is a gorgeous contrast of bright green and red, perfect for jazzing up a living room corner or as a centre piece on the dining table.

I think the sight of a pot of 'nga ku' all decked in its red finery is one of the nicest sights of Chinese New Year. And like how the pointed leaves represent growth and continuous improvement, I hope this year will be better than the last for everyone! :) Have a happy Monday.