Indian Garlands

Flower garlands have always held a special place in Indian culture and have been used as adornments on heads, necks and arms since time immemorial. They are a medium to express sentiments of purity, beauty, goodwill and love. The delicately strung flowers, leaves and even grasses are used as a symbol of offering in Hindu religious and cultural rituals, including puja (worshipping the gods) and for embellishing sacred spaces and objects. They also play a vital role in the Indian wedding ceremony. Varmala, the exchange of flower garlands between a bride and groom is the first ceremony that takes place during an Indian wedding.

In Hindu worship, the draping of garlands on the deities’ images and statues signifies obeisance and piety. Besides the traditional fragrant flowers like roses, tuberoses and jasmines, other leaves and grasses are used too for different gods and goddesses. For instance, tulasi or holy basil is the preferred choice for Krishna and Vishnu, while vilvam or bael is used for Shiva, and arugampul or Bermuda grass for Ganesha.

The artisan who makes the indian garlands string them together by piercing each blossom at its base and then weaving it into a garland by inserting it at varying intervals. In this complex process, the artisan may add a different color or a combination of flowers to create patterns and designs. In addition to flowers, other natural elements such as leaves and even fruits like limes are also used in the making of garlands.

What Are Indian Garlands Called?

Not only do they adorn deities and individuals, but also important places, vehicles and objects. For example, during the festival of Dussehra, the frame of the entrance door to a house or workplace is decorated with a torana made of mango leaves and flowers as a sign of welcome. Likewise, the gates of temples and palaces are also bedecked with floral decorations to mark an auspicious occasion.

In Indian culture, the cherished sentiment of goodwill is expressed by welcoming guests with the traditional dictum Atithi Devo Bhava that translates as “may the guest be a god into you.” As such, in Indian homes and at social events, guests are welcomed with a flower garland.

These garlands are traditionally made using roses and jasmines as the main flowers, and they are typically long and thin. But a new trend among millennial couples is to use garlands made with various flowers and colors as well as shiny ornaments. The thick, flower-filled garlands are also a popular option for Indian weddings, and they usually have an aromatic scent and taste.

But while these traditional flower garlands are beautiful, they are expensive and perishable. Moreover, they can stain the skin and clothes when worn during a lengthy event like a wedding. As an alternative, people these days also opt for synthetic varmalas that are simpler to work with and don’t spoil easily. They are often made of fabric, net and tiny decorations and are a cheaper, more durable and easier-to-manage alternative to genuine wedding garlands.

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