Seven Sacred plants and trees and their importance
We all know that we are dependent on plants and trees for our survival, or in other words we can’t survive without them. Though modern man makes strident effort to conquer nature, but this is well known that Hinduism has always given importance to nature. These days, we can find people campaigning for animal rights and environmental care. Hindus have harbored these caring sentiments since millennium. Hindus respect most flora and fauna. Hinduism also preaches to regard some trees and plants sacred, and to use as much part of trees and plants as is required and to apologize or pray to them before plucking flowers, fruits or leaves.
To name a few, certain plants and trees like tulsi, pipal, banyan, coconut, etc.have a special spiritual significance due to their association with deities, and they are worshipped or offered to God.
For Hindus, Tulsi is considered as one of the most sacred plant.Tulsi or Basil is considered to be very dear to Bhagvan Vishnu and it is also known as Haripriya. One can find a tulsi plant in every Hindu house. The lady of the house daily worships, light a lamp, water the plant and circumambulate it. The leaves of the plant are offered to lord in pujas. Offerings are considered incomplete if these leaves are not used in worship. Tulsi also symbolizes goddess Laxmi, hence known as Vishnupriya. Tulsi is also a very important herbal plant used in ayurvedic medicine. It is no coincidence that this plant has got so many medicinal values and it is considered as a pious herb.
Banyan tree is an important tree and also called ‘Kalpavriksha’, meaning ‘wish fulfilling divine tree. Married women worship banyan tree annually in June on Vat-savitri Purnima, with flowers, rice grains, milk and by winding thread around the trunk. Hindu women worship banyan tree for happiness and long life of husband.
The leaves of the plants, bael patra are considered to be very sacred. The leaves of this tree are very dear to Lord Shiva and they are used in worshipping the Lord Shiva. Inthe holy month of Shravan, [July or August], devotees of Lord Shiva offer bael patra on Shivlinga while chanting , “Om Namah Shivaya”. It is said that Lord Shiva is appeased by this and devotees receive his blessings.
Pipal tree has got importance in various religions. Not only Hindus but Buddhists and Jains consider this pipal tree to be sacred. It is also known as Sacred Fig or Bodh-tree. Lord Buddha is believed to have attained enlightenment under the Bodh- tree. Thus the tree is also known as Bodhi tree. It is well known symbol of happiness, prosperity, longevity and good luck. Hindu sadhu meditate under Bo- tree. For certain Buddhists, this tree is often the site of Buddhist and animist shrines.
Ankol and akado plant
Ankol flowers are white and black in colour, whereas akado are either white or reddish. Flowers of the plant are dear to Lord Hanumana, thus garland of these flowers are offered to him.
The lotus symbolizes truth (satyam), auspiciousness (shivam) and beauty (sundaram). Since God is attributed with same virtue of satyam, shivam and sundarm, many parts of his body are compared to lotus: lotus eyes, lotus feet, lotus hand, and he is described as lotus of our heart. Lotus grows in muddy water or ponds, yet remains beautiful, pure and unsoiled by the dirt.This means that even if one is born in an unholy family like Prahlad or in the lower caste, one can blossom to perfection. Inspite of living in a bad world a person can remain pure and be good.
This tree is another auspicious tree in Hindu religion.Mango leaves are considered very sacred. Leaves are tied at the entrance (toran). It is said to absorb negative energy from entering your home. Mango also represent Kama, the God of Fertilty. It is put in kalash to worship Varun, God of rain. Mango leaves are also used for pouring ghee in havan.
Apart from above sacred plants and trees, Banana leaves are also considered to be of great importance. Similarly, coconut trees also hold a significant place in Hindu mythology.