Torana is a sacred or honorific gateway in 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 sculpted.
Toranas are associated with Buddhist stupas like the Great Stupa in Sanchi, as well as with Jain and Hindu structures, and also with several secular structures. Symbolic toranas can also be made of flowers and even leaves and hung over the doors and at entrances, particularly in Western and Southern India. They are believed to bring good fortune and signify auspicious and festive occasions. They can also serve didactic and narrative purposes or be erected to mark the victory of a king.
During Vesak festival of Sri Lanka it is a tradition to erect electrically illuminated colorful Vesak toranas in public places. These decorations are temporary installations which remain in public display for couple of weeks starting from the day of Vesak.
Toranas are also referred to as vandanamalikas. There are many different types of toranas - dvara-toranas, patra-toranas, ratne-toranas and so on. These are mentioned in medieval Indian architectural treatises.
The earliest archaeological evidence of Torana dates back to Sanchi stupa built by Mauryan Empire in 3rd century BCE. The Sanchi torana and architecture is imitation of timber and brick construction in stone, which was popular feature in Indian architecture before 3rd century BCE.
Both Chinese paifang gateways and Japanese torii gateways have been derived from the Indian torana. The functions of all three are similar, but they generally differ based on their respective architectural styles, such as having multiple tiered and arched roofs and various "supporting posts" that are prevalent in East Asian architectural style. The Korean gateway is also related to the Japanese torii, and similar structures exist in Thailand.
A great deal of cultural exchange between these countries took place in ancient times, so that many Indian, Thai, Chinese, Korean and Japanese cultural practices are related. For example, Benzaiten is a Japanese name for the Hindu goddess Saraswati, and the ancient Siddhaṃ script, which disappeared from India by 1200 CE, is still written by monks in Japan.
In Kalinga architecture we can see the Toran in many temples built from the 7th to 12th centuries. Jagannath Temple, Puri, Rajarani Temple and Mukteswar Temple are the few example of Kalinga architecture having torana.
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