The Bold Voice of J&K

Pipal; a sacred tree

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G.L Khajuria

Pipal is a large deciduous tree with grey bark and is predominantly prominent of its religious affiliation in almost all the spiritual rituais. ln Hindu families, the ladies are mostly ordained of this religious tree and worship it for the longevity of their husbands. Even otherwise also, the tree is watered in the morning by every Hindu and it showers blessings as poetized in our revered Vedas and Purana. It is exorcising and gives maximum oxygen and is of ample importance for shade as Lord Sudha attained salvation and spiritual enlightenment under Pipal tree at Sarnath situated barely five miles away from Varanasi. The place is now of ample importance due more so that most of the Buddist pilgrimage are in existence, apart from the existence of Ashoka’s pillar of remote past and subsequently adopted by the Republic of our country (Ashoka’s Chakra) after the dawn of independence.
The tree is spoken in botanical parlence as Ficus religiosa’ belonging to the family urticaceae of plant kingdom. ln the olden days, the people have had an extensive interest in the propagation of these trees to provide shade to all travelers over long distance when the national highways were scanty and road connectivity was very very poor. The tree is having its inhabitation commonly throughout India in tropical zones and mostly cultivated alongside road near ponds (Talab) and temples and other religious places as it is mostly watered after having bath in the pond over the ages.It as well find its existence in the tropical and sub-tropical forests amongst other trees, bushes, herbs, shrubs and plants of lower strata.
The morphological charactertics of the tree are quite exuberant and share its own importance unmatching other broad – leaved species.The trunk of the tree is irregularly shaped having alternate leaves on the twigs and the leaves are orbicular – ovate, thinly corriacious but tough, shining above, reddish when young, white tubereled when mature; undulate; main lateral nerves are 6-7 pairs, joined by prominent closely reticulate veins; base is shallow chordate rounded or truncate.
The tree is prominently a sanctimonious one and is held with much veneration by Hindus especially near temples and wells, oftenly catching a height upto 900 ft in the outer Himalayas. Being a sanctified tree, its felling or axing is considered sinful, second only: to the Killing of a Brahman that is why the tree is regularly watered after early bath in the morning by men of all hues and ladies usually worship this tree for the longevity of their husbands. Wood of the tree is greyish-white, moderately hard, not so mottled as of its relative species viz. Ficus arnottiana and when the trees get old and dried; the firewood is used in cremation as its wood is considered as sanctimonious.
The tree finds its existence in Sub Himalayan tract and outer hills, ascending to greater height from Chenab eastwards to Marwara, Assarn, lower Bengal. In the eastern part of India. The tree is vernacularly Spoken as Pipal or Pares. The trees Of pipal found in the Jaunsar catches a lower heights upto 60ft as elsewhere in Garhwal, Ajmer, Bihar, Central provinces, Nagpur. Western Peninsula in the Deccan and near the coastal areas in the south tips of the Indian Ocean upto bay of Bengal.
The branches and leaves find It their usefulness as the best fodder for elephants and its leaves are also used on all rituals and other ceremonies amongst Hindu families. The milky juice or sap of the tree is hardened into a substance resembling that of Guttapercha’. It is rather a fast growing tree and finding its importance in the ‘arboriculture’ (avenues plantations) and further it is of ample importance in its propagation through- branches-and cuttings. However. of course, the tree is an epiphyte and prove to be destructive oftenly- when it grows by sending its roots down through the crevices of big buildings and monuments.
A large shrub or a small trees also find its existence oftenly as epiphyte creeping over rocks having the characterstics of broad ovate base corbate and densely clustered basal branches with bracts being membranous. Flowering of the tree usually-take-place in April – May
The tree is of immersive importance amongst all-other trees in the biological ecosystem as it exudes maximum oxygen into air and at the same time absorbing CO2 and other Poisonous gases emanating from industrial emission coupled with enormous pollution off shooting from multihued vehicles which by every day’s turn dilutes pollution into the air. So, it becomes more pertinent for the extensive plantation of this tree all over the globe most suited to site, preferably along National Highways, canals, railway tracts, around ponds and wells and many other wastelands.
But it is no longer a single man’s show we all have to join hands irrespective of age and gender and perhaps the ;youth have had a far reaching role to play within the plantation is no doubt a self – speaking fact that Forest Deptt. alongwith its associate wings are doing yeoman’s service in the inculcation of this species and abundant stocks are }available in our nurseries and it is unambiguously the ripe time when we can take in hand advance work like that of pit work and trenching so that with the onset of Monsoon we are in a position to carry out massive afforestation work of suchlike trees mentioned in the body of the-write up and further let us take a pledge for mass movement in making this mission a success oriented ensuring greening of the globe and sustainability of all form of biolife and its ecosystem – which is the clarion call of the day.
(Former Dy Conservator J&K Forest)

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