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Banyan tree (Ficus Benghalensis)

  Introduction
 Common Names
 Description
 Location
 Cultivation
 Medicinal uses
 Other uses
 Religious importance
 Vat-Pournima
 Diabetes Research
 The Banyan Tree Spas
 Banyan tree and poet Milton

  Introduction

   Banyan tree

  A banyan (बरगद) tree, native to India and part of the Mulberry family, is a big  tree with many uses and a vast history.  In Hindu mythology, the banyan tree is also called Kalpavriksha meaning 'wish fulfilling tree'. It represents eternal life because of its seemingly ever- expanding branches and people have great respect for it.

  The banyan tree is also used for medicinal purposes. The sap treats external skin inflammations and bruising. The bark and seeds are used as a tonic to cool the body, as well as to treat patients with diabetes. The roots and sap are used to treat skin ulcers, dysentery, and toothaches.

  Banyan trees have a variety of uses. They produce a special type of rubber, and their sticky milk is used in gardening. The  characteristic of the banyan is that it frequently germinates in another tree and drops its roots down to the ground.



 

   Common Names

 Latin           : Ficus Benghalensis
 Family        : Moraceae
 English       : Banyan tree
 Sanskrit      : Nyagrodhah
 Hindi           :Bargad (बरगद), Bat (बट) Vad
 Tamil          : Alamaram
 Malayalam :  Peral
 Telugu:        : Pedda-marri
 Kannada      :Ala
 Marathi       : Vata
 Bengla         :Vatagach
 Indians call it a wish fulfilling tree. 

  Description

 Banyan tree is a huge tree with very extensive branches. It is said that at one time more than 10, 000 people can sit under its shade at one time. It is a evergreen tree. It branches spread out and send trunk like roots to the ground in order to support itself. It grows to a height of more than 21 meters and lives for many years possibly over a thousand years. The leaves are 10 -20 cm long and has many aerial roots. The leaves are broad, oval and glossy. White milky fluid oozes out of leaves, if broken. It can grow in to the giant tree covering several hectares.

 The leaves of the Banyan Tree are large in size and leathery. Most of them are oval-shaped and dark, glossy green in colour. They are also noticeably pale-veined. The tree also has two large scales that cover the leaf bud. The scales fall when the leaf develops and leave a ring round the stem at the base of the leaf stalk. The young leaves of the tree have an extraordinarily gorgeous reddish shade. Though the flowers of the Banyan Tree may not visible because they are hidden inside the fig. yet it bears some fruits.

  Banyan Trees have aerial roots - running from branches to the ground - which enable trees to become very large - up to 200 metres in diameter

 Other Species : F. aurea, F. benghalensis, F. citrifolia, F. macrophylla, F. microcarpa, F.pertusa, F. rubiginosa are the other related species of the Banyan ;tree.

   Location

 Found in almost all the parts of India, Banyan tree is the National tree of India. It is grown throughout the sub- Himalayan region and in the deciduous forests. One can Banyan Tree in the Botanical Garden of Kolkata. They are widely grown in the Ranthambore National Park and Corbett National Park in India. 

Cultivation

 Banyan tree is easily propagated by root tip cuttings or the eye cuttings. Cut apiece of the stem about half a inch below and above the  leaf. Insert the stem piece and a little of the leaf stalk into the rooting medium. To reduce evaporation from the leaf surface, you can roll the leaf and secure with a rubber band. In a couple weeks roots and a new shoot will start developing. It can grow in any type of soil.

   Medicinal uses

 The Banyan tree also has several medicinal properties. Its leaf, bark, seeds and fig are used for the variety of disorders like diarrhea, polyuria, dental, diabetes and urine disorders.  It is used in traditional medicine for the treatment of several ailments. The bark and leaf buds of the tree are useful in arresting secretion or bleeding. The fruit exercises a soothing effect on the skin and mucous membranes, alleviates swelling and pain, and serve as a' mild purgative. It is also nutritious.

  Diarrhoea and Dysentery : The leaf buds of the banyan tree are beneficial in the treatment of chronic diarrhoea and dysentery. The buds should be soaked in water'  overnight and taken as infusion in the treatment of these diseases. The latex is also useful in the treatment of diarrhoea and dysentery. 

  Piles :  A few drops of the latex of the banyan tree mixed In milk and taken daily helps to cure bleeding piles. With this treatment, the diet of the patient should contain liberal quantities of green vegetables especially fenugreek and manattakkali or black nightshade leaves.

  Female sterility:  Tender roots of the banyan tree are considered beneficial in the treatment of female sterility. These roots should be dried in the shade and finely powdered. This powder should be mixed 5 times its weight, with milk, and taken at night for 3 consecutive nights after menstruation cycle every month till the conception takes place. No other food should be taken with this.

 Leucorrhoea : A regular douching of the genital tract with a decoction of the bark of the banyan tree and the fig tree. is helpful in leucorrhoea. A tablespoon each of the powders of the bark of the two trees should be boiled in a lt. of water till it is reduced to about half. Douching with the lukewarm decoction will keep the tissues of vaginal tract healthy.

  Teeth Disorders:  Cleaning the teeth with the aerial roots of the banyan is beneficial in preventing teeth and gum disorders. As one chews the stick and brushes, the astringent secretion from the root-stick cleanses and strengthens the teeth and gums-.

  Rheumatism: The latex is commonly used locally for rheumatism, pain and lumbago.

 Skin Disorders :  A hot poultice of the leaves can be applied with beneficial results to abscesses to promote suppuration and to hasten their breaking. The milky juice from the fresh green leaves is useful in destroying warts. The latex is commonly used locally for sores, ulcers and bruises.

  Other Diseases : An infusion of the bark is a specific medicine for diabetes. The tender ends of the aerial roots can be taken in obstinate vomiting..

   Banyan tree leaves and fruits

     Banyan Fruits with leaves

 In the Bhagavad Gita , Krishna says: Of all trees I am the Banyan tree, and of the sages among the demigods I am Narada . Of the Gandharvas I am Citraratha, and among perfected beings I am the sage Kapila

In Philippine Mythology , the banyan, ( known as balete or balite ) is said to be home to a variety of spirits and engkanto and demon-like creatures.

One of the largest trees, named the Great Banyan , is found in Kolkata in India. It is said to be more than 250 years old. Another such tree, named Doda Alada Mara , is found in the outskirts of Bangalore . Doda Alada Mara has a spread of around 3 acres.

  Other uses

  Banyan trees have a variety of uses. They produce a special type of rubber, and their sticky milk is used in gardening. In the Nepal region, the milky sap is used for polishing copper and brass. The women in Nepal crush the root of the banyan tree with a paste to create a hair and skin conditioner. The banyan tree is also used to produce shellac, which is widely used as an adhesive and surface-finisher in the industrial world.

  In India its edible leaves are used as the plates. It is planted for the soil conservation. Wood is used for well curbs, door panels, boxes, furniture etc. It is suitable for paper pulp. The wood of the aerial roots is stronger and is used for the tent poles and cart yokes. The milky latex that comes from its leaves and stems is used in many Ayurvedic medicines.

 Banyan trees are a source of shellac and dye. Shellac is an important ingredient in French polish. Shellac is produced by lac insects which parasitise banyan trees.

   Religious importance

  Banyan tree is respected and is considered as sacred by the people in India. In the sacred Hindu Book 'Bhagwad Gita' Lord Krishna has sung praises on the Banyan tree. People in India grow Banyan tree closer to the Peepal tree. As Banyan tree is considered as the male plant closely related to the Peepal tree. It symbolize Trimurti with Vishnu as the bark, Shiva as the branches and Brahma as the roots. Indians considered Banyan tree as 'Kalpa Vriksha' the tree that fulfill all your wishes. The mighty Banyan Tree is considered as immortal and has always been the focal point for the village communities in India. It is probably the biggest and friendliest of all trees. Banyan tree is the tree of knowledge and tree of life.

  Banyan trees are sacred in South Asia, particularly to Hindus and Buddhists. The tree features in many myths. The tree represents eternal life because it supports its expanding canopy by growing special roots from its branches. These roots hang down and act as props over an ever widening circle, reflecting the Sanskrit name bahupada, meaning 'one with many feet'. 

 The banyan tree is considered as sacred by various tribal communities. Banyan is mentioned in the Buddhist Jataka tales.  As Gautam Buddha sat under this tree for seven days it is regarded as holy by the Buddhists. The first Tirthankara of Jainism, Rishabhanath received perfect knowledge under the banyan tree. Thus, it is sacred to the Jains. The tree is also associated with the life of the 15th century saint Kabir.

  Vat-Pournima

  Vat-Pournima is celebrated on the full moon day of the Jyeshta, symbolizes the worship of the banyan tree. Jyeshta is the third month of the Hindu calendar. There is a mythological story associated with the ceremony of Vat-Pournima which tells that Savitri, by worshipping the banyan tree on the Jyeshta Pournima, brought back to life her dead husband by the grace of Yama, the god of death.

  In Goa, Hindu married women observe a whole day of fasting and perform pooja of the banyan tree, urging the tree to grant a long, healthy and happy life to their husbands.

   Diabetes Research

 The main focus for research has been on the use of the banyan tree for the treatment of diabetes. So far, some compounds called leucocyanids have been isolated from the tree and these compounds could be associated with the anti-diabetic activity of the plant. However, more research needs to be completed to understand the medicinal properties of this symbolic tree.

  The Banyan Tree Spas

 With the emergence of its first spa resort in Phuket, Thailand in 1995 the Banyan Tree introduced the concept of the Tropical Garden Spa. To destination spa goers worldwide, the Banyan Tree quickly came to symbolize holistic healing and the wisdom of basing spa therapies on ancient Eastern healing techniques. The Banyan Tree also introduced the concept of health-based beauty. With its complementary blend of health and beauty therapies, the Banyan Tree quickly became a favorite among international guests. With its low-tech, high-touch philosophy, the Banyan Tree represents a return to natural healing.

  The success of its first spa led the Banyan Tree Developers to open spa resorts in other locations. By 1998, readers of the Conde Nast Traveller recognized the Banyan Tree as the World's Best Spa. The Banyan Tree developers have opened other luxury spa resorts in Bangkok, Thailand; Bahrain, Arabia; Sanya, Hainan Island, China; the Maldives; Bintan, Indonesia; Shanghai, China and the Seychelle Islands in the Indian Ocean.

  The goal of the Banyan Tree is to provide a holistic, sensory experience. Services include intimate retreats and natural health and beauty treatments based on ancient Eastern restorative remedies. Guests are offered healing programs on an individual basis depending on their particular needs.

   Banyan tree and poet Milton

 Banyan tree inspired the great English poet Milton to give description of the banyan tree in Paradise Lost in the following lines.

 The fig-tree at this day to Indians known
  In Malabar or Deccan, spreads her arms,
  Branching so broad and long, that on the ground
  The bended twigs take root, and daughters grow
  About the mother tree, a pillar’d shade,
  High over-arched and echoing walks between.

 

 

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