Plant Myths, Religious Importance, and Traditions in Uttarakhand (Himalaya) - 31
By: Bhishma Kukreti, M.Sc. (Botany) (Mythology, Culture Research Scholar)
Mahabharata and Lord Shiva influenced the most Uttarakhand in terms of religious rituals, culture and society.
There are following important plants for worshipping or performing Lord Shiva Rituals.-
Bel or Wood Apple
Botanical name –Aegle marmelos correa
Local name – Bel
Hindi Name –Bel, Bael
Sanskrit Name –Vilva, Bilva
Economic benefits –Fruits are used for pickle and medical uses.
Myths, Religious Importance and Traditions
Bel or Wood apple is a sacred tree. The three leaves together of Wood Apple or Vilva or Bel look like trident (Trishul ) the emblem of Lord Shiva. It is belief that these three leaves represent Shiva for s ‘Creation’, Preservation’ and ‘Destruction’. The three leaves of Bel or wood apple as Sin removers too. People pay tribute to Lord Shiva in his temple by offering Vilva/bel leaves as bilpatri/belpatri on Shiv Linga
Shiva devotees worship bel tree in moths as Marshirsha and Falgun. .
In Banhadadharma Puran, the sacred tree came in existence from the cut breast of Lakshmi while she was worshiping Shiva.That is why bel fruit is called fruit of destiny.
As Banhi Puran, Lakshmi was cow in a birth and from her dung, Bel tree was born.
There are stories about bel related to Lord Rama too.
In Skand Puran, the tree merged from sweat from Parvati forehaed.
Likewise, there are many other region wise folk stories and stories of legends connected with Bel tree in Shiv Puran, Garur Purans,.
Ritual Performers use Bel wood for Homa or havan.
There are more than 108 mantras for offering belpatra on Shiva Linga.
Myths, Religious Uses and Traditions about Plant Ak , Milk Weed for Lord Shiva rituals
Botanical name –Calotropis procera
Local Name – Ank, Ak
Hindi Name –Ak
Sanskrit Name – Madar
Medical uses- used in stomach ulcer, diarrhea, constipation, toothache, cramps, joint pains etc.
Furniture, Agriculture Instruments, wood etc.- Fibers from stem and was sued in making ropes, bags and paper. The plant is useful for soil fertility too.
Ak has white flowers with blueish color touch, Therefore, the Ak is connected with the blue throat of Lord Shiva by gulping and stopping poison at the time of Samudra Manthan or ocean Churning.
Myths, Religious Uses and Traditions about Rudraksha, Utrasum Bead Plant for Lord Shiva Rituals
Rudrakasha beads are called tears of l Lord Shiva and people perceive Rudrakasha beads as auspeciou beads and use in Shiva worshipping
Botanical name – Elaeocarpus granitus
Local Name – Rudraksha
Hindi Name –Rudraksha
Sanskrit Name – Rudrakasha
Medical uses- As Electromagnetic and inductive uses
Myths, Religious Uses and Traditions about Datura Plant for Lord Shiva rituals
Datura plants are symbolic to Lord Shiva for
Botanical name – Datura metel
Local Name – Dhatura
Hindi Name – Dhattura
Sanskrit Name –Dhattura
Medical uses- Ayurveda medicines used in curing asthma, impotency, glaucoma, urine troubles and anesthetic uses.
Myths, Religious Uses and Traditions about Peeli Kaner, Lucky Nut Plant for Lord Shiva rituals
Lord Shiva liked Peeli Kaner and people offer Peele Kaner flowers to Lord Shiva
Botanical name –Thevitia peruviana
Local Name – Peeli Kaner
Hindi Name – Peeli Kaner
Sanskrit Name – Haripriya
Medical uses- A poison plant but its parts are used in Ayurveda medicines
Antifungal uses for painting trees base
Myths, Religious Uses and Traditions about Chandan, Sandal Plant for Lord Shiva rituals
Apart from Chandan wood being used in funeral, homa /yagya, in various social functions, making agarbattis; Hindus paste Chandan paste to Shiva Linga in three lines, People also use Chandan paste on putting on forehead. It is believed that Lord Shiva is always in highly inflammable state and it is essential to paste Chandan paste on Shiv Linga for calming down Lord Shiva.
Botanical name – Santalum album
Local Name –Chandan
Hindi Name – Chandan
Sanskrit Name – Anindita
Medical uses- Sandal oil is used in treating skin disorder, acne, dysentery , gonorrhea and other disorder
Myths, Religious Uses and Traditions about Hemp , Cannabis Plant for Lord Shiva rituals
People believe that Lord Shiva uses Bhang for anti-cold purpose. People also believe that Lord take hemp for lowering down his anger and for long meditation.
On Shiv Ratri day, people take hemp juice (crushed seeds with milk and other spices). People also take Bhang leaves Pakaude on that auspicious day.
Botanical name – Canabis sativa
Local Name –Bhang
Hindi Name –Bhang
Sanskrit Name – Bahuvadini
Medical uses- used in various Ayurveda medicines.
Furniture, Agriculture Instruments, wood etc. wood, fibers for various uses. In past hemp fiber clothing was very common In Uttarakhand
Food Uses – Important and a must spices of Uttarakhand.
Myths, Religious Uses and Traditions about Ber, Jujube Plant for Lord Shiva rituals
People offer Jujube fruits to Lord Shiva, especially is compulsory on Shiva Ratri. People offer ber /Jujube as jujube fruit is symbolic for longevity and gratification of desire.
Botanical name –Zizyphus mauritiana
Local Name – Ber
Hindi Name –Ber
Sanskrit Name – Badari
Medical uses- Fruits are used as sedative in cuts and injuries. Ber parts are used in various medicines
Furniture, Agriculture Instruments, wood etc.--hard wood for various wood uses .
Food Uses – Fruits as fruits and for making beverages and making pickles too.
Copyright@ Bhishma Kukreti, Mumbai 2017
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