National Tree of India (Banyan): Features, Significance and Uses. The national tree of India, banyan is a huge structure, long and deep roots and branches symbolize the country’s unity. One can find banyan trees in throughout the nation. Banyan trees are native to India and Pakistan, but they can be found in Broward and Dade counties in Florida. The tree is a perennial and is also known as Ficus benghalensis. The huge sized tree acts as a shield, protects from the hot sun. This is the reason why the tree is planted near homes, temples, villages and roadsides. In the rural parts of the country, banyan tree is considered as the focal point of the Panchayats and the gathering place for village councils and meetings. The tree is also considered sacred by the Hindus of India. With high medicinal value, banyan is often used as a herb to treat and cure many diseases.
Scientific Name: Ficus benghalensis
Adopted in: 1950
Dimensions: 10-25 m in height; branch span up to 100 m
Features of Banyan Tree | National Tree of India
Banyan tree is characterized by a tangle of branches, roots, and trunks. The tree is deeply rooted, which may spread across several acres. It is huge in size, thereby giving protection from hot sun. The tree bears fruits that look like figs. The fruits, which appear red in color when matured, are not edible. The dark green leaves of the tree are large and leathery. This is the reason why the leaves are used as animal fodder. The flowers produced by the tree often attract wasps, for pollination. An old banyan tree can reach more than 656 feet in diameter and can be as tall as 98 feet. The rubber, produced from the sticky milk of banyan tree, is used for gardening.
Significance of the Banyan
It is popularly believed that just as Savitri got back her husband, Satyavan from the clutches of death by her dedication, married women who observed this auspicious fast would be blessed with a happy married life. On the Purnima, in the month of Jyestha, the idols of Savitri-Satyava and Yamraj riding a buffalo, made from god or mud, are brought by the devotees and these are then worshiped with incense-sandal, vermillion, saffron, and fruits.
The Vat, Bargad or Banyan tree is one of the most venerated trees in India. It has the ability to survive and grow for centuries and is often compared to the shelter given by God to his devotees In Hindu mythology, the tree is called Kalpavriksha, the tree that provides fulfillment of wishes and other material gains. It symbolizes Trimurti – Lord Vishnu is believed to be the bark, Lord Brahma the roots, and Lord Shiva the branches.
The roots of the tree represent Brahma, the stem of the Vat Vriksha represents Vishnu and Lord Shiva represents the upper part of the Banyan tree and the complete tree is considered to be Savitri. The importance of the Banyan tree is that It is a popularly believed that by performing all the rituals of the puja below this sacred tree, all the desires of the devotees are fulfilled.
The Banyan tree is mentioned in many scriptures as a tree of immortality. Its aerial roots grow down into the soil forming additional trunks and are therefore called Bahupada, the one with several feet. It symbolizes longevity and represents the divine creator, Brahma.
Indians knew the Banyan tree as the vat-vriksha. When the British came to India, they noticed that members of the trading or Bania community used to gather under a large shady fig tree, which they named the Banyan, from Bania.
The Banyan is associated with Yama the god of death and the tree is often planted near crematoria.
The Banyan does not let a blade of grass grow under it. Thus it does not allow for rebirth and renewal. That is why it is not part of fertility ceremonies like marriage and childbirth.
This tree is also sacred to the Buddhists. After attaining enlightenment, Lord Buddha is believed to have sat under a Banyan tree for seven days, absorbed in his new-found realization.
Use of Banyan tree in Medicinal
The bark and leaf buds of the tree are useful in arresting secretion or bleeding.
The leaf buds of Banyan are beneficial in the treatment of chronic diarrhea and dysentery. The buds should be soaked in water’ overnight and taken as the infusion in the treatment of these diseases. The latex is also useful in the treatment of diarrhea and dysentery.
The latex is commonly used locally for rheumatism, pain, and lumbago.
A few drops of the latex of the banyan tree mixed in milk and taken daily helps cure bleeding piles. With this treatment, the diet of the patient should contain liberal quantities of green vegetables especially fenugreek and manattakkali or black nightshade leaves.
The fruit exercises a soothing effect on the skin and mucous membranes, alleviates swelling and pain, and serves as a mild purgative. It is also nutritious.
Tender roots of Banyan are considered beneficial in the treatment of female sterility. These roots should be dried in the shade and finely powdered. This powder should be mixed 5 times its weight with milk and taken at night for three consecutive nights after menstruation cycle every month till the conception takes place. No other food should be taken with this.
A Three day fast is observed on Trayodashi, Chaturdashi or Amavasi or Purnima and on the fourth day after a ritual bath early in the morning, the married women dress up as brides, apply vermillion on their foreheads and hair parting line and then offer water, rice, and flowers to the sacred Vat Vriksha or banyan tree.
A regular douching of the genital tract with a decoction of the bark of the Banyan tree and the fig tree is helpful in leucorrhoea. A tablespoon each of the powders of the bark of the two trees should be boiled in a liter of water till it is reduced to about half. Douching with the lukewarm decoction will keep the tissues of vaginal tract healthy.
Cleaning the teeth with the aerial roots of the Banyan is beneficial in preventing teeth and gum disorders. As one chews the stick and brushes, the astringent secretion from the root stick cleanses and strengthens the teeth and gums.
Where it Grows
- The Banyan Tree or Ficus Benglensis grows in tropical climates around the world. The banyan tree grows in India, South America, Africa, the Caribbean has many great health benefits and amazing uses. Banyan trees grow in just about any soil and they say brings good luck.
- The Banyan Tree or Ficus Benglensis helps in curing Diarrhea, Teeth, and Gums and used as an Anti-Inflammatory Antioxidant.
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