|The Great Banyan Tree,Howrah, Kolkata. www.arizonahandbook.com|
Banyan"- the Indian banyan (Ficus benghalensis; in Tamil known as Ala Maram.), is the national tree of the Republic of India. It refers to the subgenus Urostigma. It grows on another plants in the cracks and crevices on a host tree (or on structures like buildings and bridges,etc ). This tree depends on fig wasps for pollination and the seeds are dispersed across the land by birds. Seeds landing on the ground seldom ever grow, whereas, the seeds that land on tree branches, cracks in the buildings grow. When the seeds germinate, they send strong roots towards ground and part of it grow round the host tree. Thus a full-grown tree may have innumerable roots connecting the tree branches and ground and the areal branches and leaves form a beautiful canopy. It throws a vast, cool shadow and for the fatigued travelers in the olden days, it served as a comfortable place for rest and relaxation and, perhaps, a nap from scorching, tropical sun. As for people who need peace of mind and be free from stressful life, the huge shadow of the banyan tree offers a perfect ambiance to meditate.
In the Hindu religion, the banyan tree is also considered sacred and is called "Vat Vriksha"(a Sanskrit term;in Tamil known as Ala Maram). The god Shiva as Dakshina Murthy is shown sitting in silence under the banyan with rishis (saints) at his feet, symbolizing eternal life and bliss due to its unending expansion for decades, may be for a few centuries in the future.
Near Kolkata, at the Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Botanical Garden, Howrah, lies yet another living
|The 250 year old Great Banyan Tree, jingalex.wordpress.com|
In Hindu mythology, the banyan tree is also called kalpavriksha (in Sanskrit Viriksham means tree), meaning "wish- fulfilling tree", as it represents eternal life because of its seemingly ever expanding branches.
"National Tree". Government of India Official website. Retrieved 2012-01-16.