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Thursday, August 5, 2010

BOHAR or BANYAN TREE, MEDICINE and HISTORY

THE BOHAR OR BANYAN TREE
The Bohar tree is native to India and Pakistan, although it now grows throughout tropical Asia. It is the Ficus benghalensis, a member of the fig family of trees. It is sacred to both Buddhists and Hindus. Krishna is said to have achieved enlightenment under one, and Shiva, in his role of Universal teacher, Dakshinamurti, sat under a bohar tree to enlighten the sages who had come to hear his teachings. It is India’s national symbol, symbolizing India’s unity through diversity (as the tree has several trunks and many aerial roots).The Banyan tree is also a symbol of spiritual knowledge. In the Pralaya it is written that only Krishna survived the great Cosmic Flood, and he is depicted sucking his toe, while floating over the flood waters on a banyan leaf in many Indian Tajore paintings. In Hindu mythology it is known as the ‘wish fulfilling tree’. Its ever expanding branches represent eternal life
It got its English name from the word, banian, for Hindu merchants or traders, as English people on the subcontinent noted that traders would sit under a shady banyan tree to do business, or to relax in its shade. Indeed, whole villages could stay under one tree that was reputedly so big that 20,000 people could be accommodated under its branches. It reportedly had a perimeter of 600 metres. The aerial roots grow into accessory trunks, and help support the massive trees.
The tree is epithetic, so when birds drop the seeds from the fruits of the banyan or bohar on the branches of other trees, they germinate and grow roots which, when they become thicker and stronger, eventually strangle the host tree.
Its leaves are large and leathery, smooth on the upper side of the leaf, but with hairy undersides, and these are used as fodder, as well as being boiled and used as poultices, applied to abscesses and cracked soles on the feet. The milky sap which oozes from the stems, twigs and branches when it is cut is used to relieve inflamed areas of skin, sores and ulcers. It is also used to get rid of bruises and to treat rheumatism and lumbago. The bark has astringent properties and is used to help in cases of diabetes, and to treat dysentery. Western medical researchers have been slow to research the possibilities of the banyan tree, but studies underway suggest that it may indeed be helpful in the treatment of diabetes. In Ayurvedic medicine its bark and seeds are used in infusions as these are believed to have cooling properties and these are used as a tonic and to cool the body.The ripe fruits are not generally eaten by people unless there is a time of famine, but they are enjoyed by monkeys and birds. People use its twigs for toothbrushes.
  The banyan tree is useful in many ways. It is home to the lac insects, parasites that live on the tree, as they do on the tamarind tree. From the resinous secretions of these creatures we get shellac which is used in French polish, and to make lac dye which is good for dying wool and silk. Shellac is also used in cosmetics and hair lacquer. Fibres from the bark and roots are woven into rope, and the aerial roots make good tent poles as they are strong and flexible-they are stronger than the tree trunk wood. A modern craft involves making greetings cards with the leaves from the banyan incorporated into the designs. The milky sap from the tree is good for polishing metal ware, and the wood is suitable for making paper pulp.
Ghosts and demons are said to live in the banyan tree so people don’t sleep under it at night. However married women go to the tree to ask for a long life for their husbands. Young people are encouraged to plant banyan trees and to put a silver coin under the roots. They should also plant them near a Bo tree or pipal tree (Ficus religiosa) which is believed to be the banyan tree’s female counterpart. When the banyan tree is planted in this way the young person should be lucky in life.
There are no recipes for this tree as people don’t eat its fruit. Sorry! However you could go to one of our stand alone recipes, a chicken one, or a salad or moussaka and pastitsio. They all have Taste and are Treats.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for infomation on Bohar Tree its a traditional tree in India but sad thing is people dont know about this they are disapearin from most of parts fron Northen India cutting trees like this is killing more than any thing

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