India is a sacred land of rich traditions and customs who believes in “Atithi devo Bhava” which means The guest is equivalent to God' or 'Be one for whom the guest is God' is a Sanskrit verse, taken from an ancient Hindu scripture which became part of the "code of conduct" for Hindu society. The philosophy of considering the guest equivalent to god leads towards decorating homes and welcoming the guest. In home decoration toran (festoons) plays an eminent role in Indian tradition. Torans or Bandanwaars are used to decorate the main entrance of the home. The philosophy behind decorating the homes is to delight and magnetize the goddess of wealth and fortune Lakshmi. The decoration of the entrance of the place which is called Dwaar is also important in this regard. The beautiful doorhangings that are also known as Bandanwaars and torans have special significance as the decoration accessories. Torans are the first thing that welcomes the guests as they step into Indian homes. They are not only enhancing the charm of the main entrance but also give a very gracious and warm welcome.
As India is known for its unity in diversity and it reflects in each single element of its tradition. Likewise in decorating homes toran (festoons); the regional changes makes it very diverse and fascinating. And in India generally people use different materials to make toran like mango leaves, marigold flowers, coconuts, wool threads, mirrors etc.
Marashtra is a state which is unique in their tradition and culture. The customs and rituals are vast and exceptional as well as the geographic and ethnographic differences make it diverse. In western Maharashtra especially in Kolhapur and Sangali even now also the people follows their traditional rituals and mores. In this region they have a traditional way of decorating home during any auspicious occasions. The toran from Kolhapur and Sangali has some distinctiveness in their design and construction which makes them identically divergent from the other torans (festoons) of India.
Torans or Bandanwaars are the strings which are beautified with natural materials to decorate the main entrance of the home. Decorating the main door of the houses, temples or any other place, where some ritual is performed, with a Toran is part of the Indian culture. Generally this decoration is done during festivals or celebrations or during any auspicious occasions.
The origin of torans can be traced to Puranas (Indian epics). The word toran is derived from the Sanskrit word torana or tor which means pass. The evidence of the tradition of using toran can be clearly evident and seen in the ancient Buddhist architecture. Its typical form is a projecting cross-piece resting on two uprights or posts. It is made of wood or stone, and the cross-piece is generally of three bars placed one on the top of the other; both cross-piece and posts are usually sculptured.
The tradition of decorating the main doors with toran can be observed all over the India subcontinent. The mythological significance of decorating toran which is accompanied with Kolam or Rangoli is to welcome the Goddess Lakshmi the divine being of wealth, fortune and prosperity. However the scientific functionality of toran is to protect the house from the evilness and maintain the cosmic energy of the place the observational.
Study shows the material which is used to make toran all over India has the ability to absorb negative energy and generate positive vibes to maintain the atmospheric equilibrium. For example the toran made out of mango leaves, Neem leaves, and coconut and marigold flowers has antifungal and antibacterial properties which will help to kill the germs circulation obtained at the time of social gathering during festival or any other occasions.
Kolhapur is an ancient cultural city which is situated in Maharashtra. Mythological origin of Kolhapur says that the city was founded by the demon Kolhasur who was killed by goddess Lakshmi and his last dying wish was to have the city named after him and his wish was granted. And the city has mentioned in the last chapter of Devi BhagavataPurana.
Sangali is another historical place in Maharashtra which is situated in the banks of river Krishna and has the renowned historical Ganesha temple. The etymology shows that the original name of Sangali was ‘Sahagali’ the Marathi term ‘saha’ means six and ‘galli’ means lanes describing the early street plan which was later shortened to Sangali.
The distinctive exclusivity of the both cities is their historical significance, ancient culture and tradition. And it can be seen in the way of welcoming their gusts during festivals and rituals as well as in the way they decorate their houses. And the toran from Kolhapur and Sangali have a key role in making their tradition unique and exceptional.