|Shri Narendra Modi looking at Banyan Tree, Mahakali Vad at Kantharpura. narendramodi.in|
Hindus believe that the God is omnipresent, all pervading. He is in all living as well as non-living beings. The divine God exits in the pillar as well as in the smallest atom (in Tamil "Thoonelum erruppar, Thoorumbilum erruppar"). In the Hindu Pantheon and mythology, one may find a close association of God and Goddess with animals - Goddess Durga Devi with Lion or Tiger, God Karthikaya (Muruga) with peacock, etc. In the rural areas of Tamil Nadu, especially in the interior places one may see a small Hindu temple (dedicated to a God or Goddess) or simply a make-shift temple in the shadow of a huge banyan tree. It may be a village deity, supposed to be the protector (sentinel) of that particular village. In order to have their wish fulfilled, after prayer people will tie a strip of yellow cloth dipped in turmeric water or hang objects from tree branches in the belief that their existing or ensuing problems will be resolved soon. The association of god with tree or plants is part of the Hindu society and culture. Every Hindu temple in Tamil Nadu and also in other states has a particular tree (Viruksham) which is symbolic of that temple. At some Hindu temple Hindus worship a big stump of tree as God. For example at the huge and old Nellaiappar temple of Thirunelveli,in South Tamil Nadu, Lord Shiva, the cosmic dancer appears as suyambu (grew independently from an old Viruksha - Bamboo (Bambusa arundinacea).
A few Tamil Nadu temples and their specific trees:
Vaitheeswaran Kovil (temple): - Vriksham: Veppa Maram(Neem tree).
Nataraja Temple, Chidambaram: - Vriksham:
Thiruvanaikaval - Jambukeswarar:Vriksham: Naaval
Tirukkarukaavoor near Papanasam - Kumbhakonam Vriksham: Mullai.
|Temple of Six Banyan Trees of Guangzhou,www.chinahighlights.com|
The Yakshis or Yakshinis (Sanskrit) are mythical maiden deities of Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain mythology. They have close link with trees, especially the Ashoka tree and the Sal tree. Although these tree deities do good for the humans.There are also Yakshinis that are harmful to humans and cause all kinds of problems.
Panaiveri Aamman, named after Panaai,(in Tamil for the Palmyra palm), is an ancient fertility deity linked to this palm tree that is so important in Tamil culture. Also known as Taalavaasini, a name that relates her to all types of palm trees. Some other Tamil tree deities are related to ancient agricultural deities, such as Puliyidaivalai Aamman, the deity of the tamarind tree, and Kadambari Aamman, associated with the Kadamba tree. These were seen as manifestations of a goddess who offers her blessings by giving fruits in abundance.
Tree worship is mentioned in many societies throughout world. In South America, the Gauchos regarded the tree, not as the embodiment or abode of Walleechu, but as the very god himself. Darwin recorded tree worship as part of South American native cultures. In the state of Nebraska, USA the custom of tree worship was to propitiate the supernatural beings and to procure good weather and hunting.
|Married Hindu women worshiping the Banyan tree|
In many societies cultural and fictional stories, folklores, etc., it is mentioned that trees are symbols of immortality and fertility. This is quite true of India, in particular, in rural India where trees have cultural and religious significance. In Hinduism, the Banyan and the Peepal (Ficus religiosa) trees are frequently mentioned. The Christmas Tree, the Tree of Knowledge of Judaism and Christianity, the Bodhi tree in Buddhism have religious as well as cultural connotations.As you may be aware that Prince Siddhārtha Gautama got his enlightenment under the Bodhi tree and became the Buddha. The study of tree worship is too large a subject and it covers a wide spectrum of subjects. in ancient Egypt according to the book of the dead ''the soul of the deceased finds blissful repose '' apparently in trees.
As for the custom of hanging objects from trees in order to establish some sort of relationship between themselves and the tree for the specific purpose of fulfillment of a wish which could be a child, a good bride or a bridegroom, winning of a court case, etc , not only is it common in many parts of India but also in Europe and the Americas. The trees are known as the sites of pilgrimages, ritual ambulation, and the recital of (Christian) prayers. Wreaths, ribbons or rags or objects like a small cradle (symbolic of a baby) are suspended to win favor and good luck including for sick men. Popular belief associates the sites with healing, bewitching, or mere wishing and here the trees are mere objects of reverence. Hence, in rural Tamil Nadu as in many parts one may find a small temple right below a huge Banyan trees - supposedly a venerable place of worship and protection.
In Rural India in small villages or hamlets, the space below a huge tree - mostly Banyan is the meeting place of the villagers with the village head.
|Hindu women worshiping a peepal tree.www.hitxp.com|
Once in a while a special meeting will be held to settle civil disputes as well as small criminal offenses before the Panchayat members. Decision will be based on people's opinion and quorum.The Indian union government has recognized Panchayat system with limited freedom. Mahatma Gandhi favored this kind of system for quick disposal of petty, trivial litigations.
In some Hindu temples the presiding deities are not made of granite, but of wood, preferably Neem wood, out of which Godly images are reverentially carved out. A good example is Puri Jagannath temple in Odhisa where the presiding deities are made of neem wood and the priests change the wooden deties reverentially every 12 years.
|The Saint Thomas Christians in India from 52 to 1687 AD.www.srite.de|
Taylor, John W. (1979). Tree Worship, in Mankind Quarterly, Sept., pp. 79-142. ISSN 0025-2344.
Gollwitzer 1984:13."The Voyage of the Beagle", Chapter IV Mountfort 2003:41, 279.
Mythical Trees and Deities.A green act of faith - Times Of India articles.times of india.india times.com › Collections.
Trees A green act of faith. Payal Gwalani, TNN Sep 4, 2011, 01.06pm IST.