According to Hinduism, worshipping divinity includes worshipping a few plants and trees which are considered holy. These trees boast of a lot of religious significance. Our ancient scriptures also indicate that worshipping plants and trees is indeed an ancient Indian practice. Several Hindu traditions are connected to them. Today also, the modern Indian traditions have an elementary place for worshipping plants and trees as they symbolize life, fertility, prosperity, growth, purity, and divinity.
Here are five trees which are considered the most sacred in Hindu culture:
Bael tree: This tree is associated with Lord Shiva as the Lord is pleased by offering its leaves and fruits. The trifoliate leaves from the bael tree are considered to be very auspicious as they symbolize three functions of the three Hindu deities, Lord Vishnu, Brahma and Shiva – creation, preservation, and destruction respectively. These trifoliate leaves are also considered as three eyes of Lord Shiva. Besides the spiritual significance, all the parts of this tree have medicinal qualities and thus it is used in many Ayurvedic medicines.
Banana tree: Although it is not a tree but due to its structure and size, it is considered as a tree. The fruit of this tree is considered very auspicious to offer to Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi. The leaves are used to decorate religious and ceremonial pandals. They are also used to serve food and Prasad. The leaves are also considered auspicious to offer to Lord Ganesha. Worshipping this tree with incense sticks, fruit, flowers, haldi-kumkum and moli (a sacred thread), especially on a Thursday, is believed to bring prosperity in the family of the worshipper.
Tulsi: Tulsi leaves are used in every religious ceremony. The plant is considered very auspicious to be grown in the front courtyard of the house. In ancient Vedas, it is mentioned that merely touching the wood of tulsi plant can purify a person. String made of tulsi beads is worn by yogis, saints, and mystics in India so as to purify their mind, body and emotions. This plant is also prized in Ayurveda for its medicinal and sophisticated healing properties.
Banyan tree: For centuries, banyan tree has been linked to the shelter provided by god to his devotees. It is mentioned in many ancient Indian texts and scriptures that banyan tree represents the divine creator and symbolises longevity. The worshipping of the tree is believed to provide the fulfilment of wishes and material gains. The tree is symbolic of fertility and can help childless couples in conceiving a baby. It is considered highly inauspicious to cut this tree. Its large and beautiful leaves are commonly used in rituals of worship. The tree is also known as ‘Bargad’ or ‘Vat Vriksha’.
Peepal: Peepal tree is seen in almost every Hanuman and Shani temple. This tree is especially worshipped on all Saturdays because it is believed that Goddess Lakshmi sits under it on this day. Watering the peepal tree surely blesses the person to earn goodwill for himself and his future generations. It is also a way to restore the best health. The peepal tree is also worshipped to escape from contagious diseases and enemies. According to Hinduism, when a woman revolves around (parikrama) the peepal tree, she is blessed to gain her desired wish.
These trees carry special significance for Hindus throughout history. Grow and worship them and reap the benefits.