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India is a country with varied heritage and culture. But, some customs remain the same in most of the parts of India. This is because of the reverence and respect of the Indian culture towards mother nature. One among these is the custom of worshiping trees. There are many stories that are popular in various regions regarding this tradition of worshiping trees.
The tradition of worshiping trees is based on mythology, some others are due to religious beliefs. Even non-believers respect and admire trees because of the immense benefits that they receive from trees in the form of fruits, flowers, fresh oxygen and shade.
The worship of trees in hinduism is done for different purposes, according to Hindu mythology. It can be for moksha, immortality, fertility or for fulfilling wishes. All these are interconnected to various rituals that we perform with utmost spiritual feeling. Banyan and the Peepal trees are the most worshipped tress according to Hindu mythology.
Here we may discuss some of the reasonswhy people worship tree in India.
Worshiping Lord Vishnu: The Brahma Purana and the Padma Purana tells that Lord Vishnu stayed hidden in the Peepal tree once when the demons attacked and defeated Gods. So, it is believed that we worship Lord Vishnu by worshiping peepal tree even without an image or temple.
Thrimurthi Concept: Some people believe that the sacred trees are the unity of Lord Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. So, worshiping trees that carry this mythology will offer the blessings of the thrimurthi and will enhance spiritual enlightment.
Concept Of Three World: Due to the physical structure of trees, it is considered as a link between the three worlds: the heaven, the earth, and the underworld. It is believed that offerings given to trees will reach all the three worlds.
PanchaVriksha : The five trees, panca-vriksha, in the garden of Lord Indra are mandara (Erythrinastricta), parijata (Nyctanthes arbor-tristis),samtanaka, haricandana (Santalum album) and kalpavrksa or kalpataru. When the question why do people worship trees in India is raised, these mythologies related to the origin and growth of these trees are pointed out.
Association With Saints: Some of the most worshiped trees are considered scared due to their associations with great saints. The bargad is sacred because markandeya hid in the branches of this tree and Sala is sacred for the Buddhist because of its connection to the birth and demise of Lord Budha.
For Long Married Life: Young women are symbolically married to peepal trees in some part of India to help them lead a long married life. For this, a long thread is tied to tree trunk and it is Circumambulated 108 times, The tree is then adorned with sandal paste and earthen light.
Offerings To God: Some trees are considered as sacred because we offer the leaves, flowers or fruits of that particular tree to worship specific Gods associated with it. At the same time, there are strict restrictions for some plants that it should not be used for worshiping Gods.
Apart from its ecological value, trees possess an important part in the Indian culture and tradition. It is a sacred link that connects humans to mother nature.