Leaves on the Doorway

Ceremonies and rituals in India have some unique traditions that are not often seen or practiced elsewhere on the globe. Take for example, the leaves used outside the ceremonial venues or residences before a wedding or a prayer ritual. Alongwith the colourful floor patterns, rangoli, there are different green leaves inviting guests. The most common among these is the omnipresent mango leaves, usually strung as a bunting, toran, between the doorposts of the venue, most often interspersed with balls of orange or yellow marigold. The waxy, shiny leaves flutter happily and don’t dry up easily, making it ideal for our dry, hot weather and don’t need replenishing often. These torans don’t only play the decorative role at the venue, but have also been known to be good pest controls – the transparent acidic sap of the mangifera indica (mango) is a good pest repellant and keeps flies away as does the strongly scented pollen of the marigold. If it is a wedding, then fully-grown banana plants are harvested to be placed at either ends of the door with the leaves forming a natural curved entrance and if you are lucky, the plant could also have a bunch of fresh fruit growing on it. Nothing could get more auspicious than this, as bananas also denote fertility and a good omen for all events. And a few cultures, especially in Southern India use fresh coconut fronds to adorn their doorways by intricately weaving them together into faux lanterns. The coconut palm is often described as the magical tree, kalpavriksha, and it must these magical properties that the householders must be seeking by using these as doorway buntings, because it is difficult to uproot a palm tree and place at the doorposts, and if you tied the coconut leaves into a toran, then visitors passing through the doorway would be lacerated or at least intimidated by the long pointed ends; perhaps that is why they knit them into intricate shapes.

The wedding season and its fineries are unloading onto all living and visiting India these days – and D Street is not spared either. So after the Wedding Bonanza, yesterday, the D Boyz started today by passing under doorways strung with some green leaf or the other. Initially it was the mango leaf toran, with the 5 – 6 inches long leaves that kept the SENSEX up 50-60 points up. Then the household doorway had the 15 foot high, towering banana plant that ensured that the SENSEX jumped up 10 times higher at 150 points or thereabouts. There were minor dips indicated by the ducking heads of the D Boyz when they saw a coconut frond lantern overhead. A couple of lanterns ducked and they were at day’s end, soaking in all the fun and joy of the good omens. Amidst the din of the celebrations, it is difficult to be heard over the crackling cell-phone networks, and the Boyz did not think using them was a good Idea and also let another Telephone company lose some Air today dipping 4.5%; while the glut of sweet-dishes indulged in over the weekend weddings made the Boyz shun it today – bring sugar companies down 5-6%. The SENSEX kept up the tempo staying 158 points up to end at 17180.

One good thing about these natural festoons is that they last long (I think I mentioned it above), and when you have to bring them down, they do not litter easily and their disposal is so eco-friendly. A certain Gent from Chennai would have loved to add them to his vermi-compost, but I guess transporting it from Mumbai would not be such a good idea from a carbon footprint point of view? Anyone know of a friendly vermi-compost unit in Mumbai that we can refer the D Boyz to?



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