It is common practice in India to decorate the main door of the house, temples or areas where rituals are being performed to be decorated with a garland of leaves. Today this has just become part of the Hindu tradition and the true meaning behind this gesture has become obscure with time to many.
It may just be a ritual but there is a more scientific meaning behind the hanging of these leaves.
The garland is made preferrably of fresh and green mango leaves for their aesthetically pleasing appearance but neem leaves are also included most of the time. As we know, green leaves absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. This helps in keeping the surrounding atmosphere clean and hygienic.
Theoretically, the air filled with carbon dioxide is purified when it passes through the leaves while the pestering insects get attracted to the garland, leaving the occupants of the area alone.
The colour green is also soothing and refreshing to the mind. People who have extremely stressful lifestyle find it relaxing to spend time in nature. Spending time in greenery lets the conscious brain rest, replenishing the power of attention and lowering anxiety. Having a garland of leaves at the doorstep can be a small way of relaxing and unwinding from stress.
When the leaf has just fallen, it has plenty to continue photosynthesizing for a while, although how long will vary. In fact, because the chloroplasts are separate organelles from the rest of the leaf’s cells much like mitochondria, they would be one of the last things in the leaf to stop working. As soon as the leaf dries out, photosynthesis no longer works. The darker the leaf, the longer time it has to create photosynthesis.
In villages, it was common to use dry mango leaves to treat certain ailments. The dry mango leaves were powered, mixed with coconut oil and used in first aid for cuts and wounds. The mango garland would thus come in handy for providing immediate aid in cases that needed to immediately stop the bleeding.
Along with handing the leaves, it was common practice to apply turmeric paste on the threshold of a house. Turmeric is well known for its anti-septic and anti-bacterial properties. While the leaves freshened the air and distracted insects, turmeric applied around the door stopped bacteria and other microscopic organisms from entering the house.
The combination of yellow and green not only brightened up the area but also brought about a cheerful presence with it.