Barabanki (UP), May 15 (IANS) Holding aloft a flower from the Parijat tree, Babu Lal, 72, exclaims, “Phool aa gaya, bimari chali jayegi (flower is blooming, the disease will go away).”
He firmly believes that the flowering of the Parijat tree, which is said to be a rare sight, is a good omen and will drive away coronavirus. The Parijat flower is white that turns golden as it wilts.
A farmer by profession, Babu Lal admits that he has been fascinated by the flowers of the Parijat tree ever since he was a child.
“This is the third time in my life that I have seen a Parijat flower even though I live barely 5 km from here. The first time I saw the flower was when I got married and then when my father was critically injured in an accident. The doctors had given up on him, but I saw the flower and he recovered. Now I have seen the flower again and I am sure that the prevailing crisis will be over soon,” he said.
Other locals also swear by the Parijat and insist that the flowers bring good tidings.
“Parijat ka phool shubh hai. Agar kisi ne dekha hai, to achcha hi hoga (the Parijat flower is lucky. If someone has seen it, it will bring good tidings),” said Yaduvendra Singh, a local medical representative.
This Parijat tree is a protected tree, situated in Kintur village in Barabanki district of Uttar Pradesh. The much-revered tree is also known as ‘the tree from paradise’ due to its mythological significance.
It is said to belong to the Mahabharat era.
There are a number of legends about this tree, which have popular acceptance. One of them is that Arjun brought this tree from heaven and Kunti used to crown Lord Shiva with its flowers.
Another saying is that that Lord Krishna brought this tree for his queen Satyabhama .
According to the Harivansh Puraan, the Parijat tree is a ‘Kalpavriksha’, or wish bearing tree, which is found mainly in heaven.
Newly-weds visit the tree for blessings, and every Tuesday, a fair is held where local people worship the tree.
Director of the Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CIMAP), Anil Kumar Tripathi, said, “Flowering in the endangered tree is rare and it takes years to blossom.”
Another scientist at CIMAP said, “Flowering in Parijat generally takes place five years after plantation. It happens around the onset of monsoon. There is no surety that it will happen every year or after a fixed number of years.”
The importance of this ancient and much-revered tree can be gauged from the fact that the district magistrate has strictly prohibited any kind of damage to the tree.
In 2015, the Parijat tree was found to be decaying due to bacterial and fungal infections, mainly due to offerings of sweets, water and milk made by the devotees.
The forest department took the help of scientists at the National Botanical Research Institute (NBRI) and a team of senior scientists, led by S.K. Tiwari, had collected samples of the tree’s healthy tissue and wood from the affected portion and the soil to find the cause.
The sample analysis showed the tree was infested with multiple bacteria and fungi. The NBRI treated the tree and administered chemical treatment. It also recommended a microbial bio-pesticide (Bacillus based inoculants) to be applied on its trunk and leaves thrice a year to keep it clean of infections.
Apart from the ‘original’ Parijat tree at Kintur, there are four such trees in Lucknow, one each at CIMAP and Lucknow University, and two at NBRI.
The state government, a fortnight ago, had decided to identify ‘heritage’ trees and the Parijat is one of them.
The ‘heritage’ tree tag will entitle such trees to an elaborate conservation plan by the state biodiversity board.
Through a government order, all district officials have been asked to compile an exhaustive list of trees that have survived four human generations (considering one generation is of at least 75 years) or are more than 100 years old and have religious, mythological or historical connect.
The first-of-its-kind initiative in UP will help identify, locate and mark revered trees that have stood the test of time and are preserved in folklores.