Genus: Tecomella undulata
Common name: Rohida / Desert teak / Marwar teak
Last Sunday I had stepped out for a walk in the Lodhi Garden with a tree lover and expert. He took us around the garden and showed us some amazing trees and told us interesting anecdotes about them too. This one particular tree caught my attention the most as there were lots of old clothes strewn across its branches. Just as I was wondering how tacky this is and why arent the gardeners cleaning it up; our walk leader told us an interesting anecdote.
This tree is called Rohida and its the state flower of Rajasthan. The tree is worshiped in the desert due to the curing properties found in the bark of the trees. Its believed that if someone is ill, then their clothes should be hung on the tree branches. This allows the medicinal effect to seep through and then when the person wears them, their illness dissipates.
This ritual is followed for children and now-a-days people just put the clothes on the trees in hope of its curative effect reaching their child.
I was amazed to note that even today the Rohida tree is being revered and that too in a modern city where people dont have time to spend with one another. I am sure its being treated as an old wives tale and some people just go through the motions. While others practice it religiously as a thing been done for generations in their family.
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Whatever the case, its heartening to see such practices being followed. With the decimation of the Aarey forest in Mumbai recently, we have lost so many of these gentle giants. They disperse their goodness quietly without expecting much. But they were slaughtered in the name of development by a few greedy individuals with vested interests.
The trees were cut in the dead of the night, which goes against the grain of religious belief regarding trees. I remember as kids we were scolded for breaking off leaves/ flowers off a plant at night. We were reminded that the plants are sleeping and its not good to disturb them. One of my ayahs would also talk about spirits in the trees that rest in the trees in the night.
Yet the authorities in Mumbai did just that – they cut the trees by stealth in the dead of the night. Protesting citizens was detained by the police and made to run pillar to post to secure bail. Later, NGOs were stopped from going inside to save the affected animals. Its a sad thing to see what has been done to the Aarey forests in such a hoodlum manner by the current government.
The Sunday walk was a balm to my pain for Aarey as I could enjoy these beauties that still survived the greedy axe. Each and every tree we came across had a multitude of medicinal properties and anecdotes of faith attached to them.
When will we greedy humans stop cutting off the very branch that we are sitting on? Does greed matter more than health? Is a human extinction the next thing looming up in the futures of our children?
Joining in the #Thursdaytreelove linky with Parul where we share a picture of a tree and mention in a few words why we are fascinated by it.
My previous post for this linky can be found here