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Date:27/09/2008 URL: http://www.thehindu.com/thehindu/pp/2008/09/27/stories


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Back Property Plus Bangalore Chennai Hyderabad Kochi Malabar


Thiruvananthapuram

Worship trees if you can’t respect them

Scriptures of all the three religions mention their importance and various usages in daily life,
writes Swathi. V

A must in all homes: Tulasi or basil plant is known for its medicinal properties and is a
prime herb in Ayurvedic treatment.

Buddha Purnima Project Authority during this Ganesh Chathurthi season, came up with a novel
idea of supplying clay idols along with all the ingredients of ‘patri’ (the fruit and leaf material as
offering) as a package. About thousand kits were delivered to those who wished to offer genuine
‘patri’ as prescribed in the method of ‘pooja’.

“We struck upon this idea when I noticed all kinds of foliage being passed as traditional ‘patri’.
Our scriptures have specific mention of which leaves and fruits to use,” N. Chandramohan
Reddy, the Officer of Special Duty of BPPA said. He also makes a point when he says people
should be exhorted to respect trees at least for their religious importance.

Scriptures of all the three religions have mention about a great variety of plant life in them. Quran
has mention of over 100 kinds of trees which includes Acorus calamus (Sweet flag), Salvadora

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persica (Meswak or Tooth brush tree), Lawsonia inermis (Henna) and Vitis vinifera (Grape vine).

A tradition

Especially, during the month of Ramzan, use of Meswak is mandatory as one can not use
toothpaste except in the dawn. It is one of the ‘Sunnat’—as the tradition of following Prophet
Mohammed during Ramzan is known— to use Meswak to cleanse one’s teeth before each
Namaz. Aloe vera, the plant believed to augment beauty as well as health, finds specific mention
in Bible, while Olive does so even in Quran.

Hinduism perhaps accommodates more greenery in its folds than any other religion. This is partly
due to the myriad Holy Scriptures and Gods it reveres and the methodical worship of each god.
Epics such as Ramayana and Mahabharata are replete with descriptions about nature while the
sixteen scriptures such as Varaha Purana, Vamana Purana, Kumara Sambhava, Matsya Purana,
Vayu Purana considered to be holy by the Hindus mention a number of other trees. Each birth
star as well as constellation of Hindu astrology is associated with a specific tree.

Widely used

Trees such as Emblica officinalis (Amla), Tamarindus indica(Tamarind), Mangifera indica


(Mango), Achyranthus (Apamarga), Terminalia arjuna (Arjuna), Calotropis gigantean (Arka or
Jilledu), Saraca indica (Ashoka), Ficus religiosa (Peepal), Zizyphus mauritiana (Indian jujube or
Badari), Eclipta prostrate (Bhringaraja), Aegle marmelos (Bael Tree), Michelia champaca
(Champaka or Sampenga), Datura, Artimisia pallens (worm wood), Cynodon dactylon (Bahama
grass), Leucas aspera (Thumbe), Clitoria ternatea (Aparajitha), Syzygium cumini (Jamboo),
Hibiscus rosasinensis (Hibiscus or Mandara), Asparagus racemosus (Asparagus), Anthocepalus
cadamba (Kadamba), Nelumbo nucifera (Lotus), Feronia elephantum (Kapitha or Velaga),
Nerium odorum (Karaveera or Ganneru), Pandanus species (Screw Pine or Mogali), Bauhinia
species, Jasminum species (Jasmine), Origanum marjorana (sweet marjoram or Maruvam), Mesua
ferrea, Piper betel (Betel leaf), Tabernaemontana divaricata (Nandi Vardhanam), Nymphaea
species (Water lily), Vitex species (Vavili), Butea monosperma (Palash or Moduga), Nyctanthes
arbortristis (Parijatha or Night Jasmine), Areca catechu (Areca nut), Calophyllum inophyllum
(Punnaga), Chrysanthemum species, Prosopis cineraria (Sami or Jammi), Santalum album
(Sandal), Polianthes tuberose (Tube rose), Elaeocarpus sphaericus (Rudraksha), Calotropis
procera, Ocimum sanctum (Thulasi), Ficus racemosa (Gular fig), Mimusops elengi (Pogada),
Ficus bengalensis (Banyan), and Evolvulus alsinoides (Vishnugandh) are widely used in different
kinds of rituals performed by Hindus during various poojas and vratas.

Quite many plants including Holarrhena antidysenterica (Pala Kodise), Atrocarpus lakoocha
(Monkey jack), Syzygium aromaticus (Cloves), Pinus longifolia (Pine), Saccharum officinarum
(Sugar cane), Dalbergia latifolia (Rose Wood), and Borassus flabellifer (Palmyra palm) find
special mention in Ramayana as they supposedly existed in ‘Ashoka Vanam’ where Sita was kept
imprisoned by Ravana.

Religious significance

Any one with even minimal knowledge of Hindu religion knows the significance of mango leaves
which are used for festooning during auspicious occasions. Peepal tree symbolises the trinity of
Hindu religion Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma.

Buddha is said to have attained divine knowledge sitting beneath this very tree at Gaya.

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The tree is also worshipped by childless couples.

Sami or Jammi tree bears special significance in the context of Dasara festival, when it is a ritual
in Telangana to exchange its leaves revered as gold.

Mosquito repellent

Tulasi or basil plant is widely known also for its medicinal properties and is a prime herb in
Ayurvedic treatment. The plant’s extracts are used to prevent or cure many ailments such as
common cold, headache, stomach disorders, inflammation and heart diseases. Also used in herbal
toiletry, the plant is known to de-pollute the atmosphere and repel mosquitoes.

A few trees such as pomegranate find place in all the three religions.

Pomegranate is mentioned in Quran, Bible and many Hindu epics such as Ramayana,
Mahabharata and Matsya Purana, Varaha Purana and Vamana Purana. Trees such as Date palm
and Fig follow suit.

Adansonia digitata or the glamorous Baobab tree, native to Africa and introduced to India about
1000 years ago, is considered as ‘Kalpavriksha’ in some parts of the country.

Depending on nativity and use, many other trees such as Parijata, Peepal, banyan and coconut
trees too are considered as ‘Kalpavriksha’s.

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