In Hindu religion, there are so many rituals and traditions which are followed everyday. Religion involves mass belief and likewise there are traditions in different parts of the world which people adhere to under all circumstances. In India. it’s a way of life to protect and worship Cows & some Trees as sacred.
The Peepal tree has such a position and exalted status in the Indian subcontinent that even the biological species description of the tree (as per wikipedia) is “Ficus religiosa or sacred fig”, a species of fig native to the Indian subcontinent, and Indochina. It belongs to the Moraceae, the fig or mulberry family. It is also known as the bodhi tree, pippala tree, peepul tree, peepal tree or ashwattha tree (in India and Nepal).
Peepal tree is worshipped by a majority of Hindus. Excavations from Mohanjodaro, one of the sites of the Indus Valley civilization during 3000BC to 1700BC, are suggestive that the Peepal was worshipped even in those times. All parts of the tree, the root, trunk, branches, Leaves and even saplings have benefits in the ancient science of Ayurveda, Indian Culture, religious practice & much more.
In the epic Ramayana, Lord Hanuman seated upon a Peepal tree watched the plight of mata sita while in Ravana’s captivity in Ashok Vatika in lanka. It is further believed that Lord Ram used the peeple tree to make his shelter during the vanvaas period. Therefore this tree is very special for Lord Hanuman. It’s also a strong belief that Lord Shiva, Lord Brahma & Lord Vishnu used to hold their advisory under peepal tree.
Apart from this, in ancient scriptures, there are many mythological stories about the Peepal. . As stated in Brahma Purana, Ashvattha and Peepala were demons who possessed magical powers and it was Ashvattha who took the form of Peepal tree while Peepala used to lure people disguised as a Brahmin to touch the tree and hence causing their death in the hands of Ashvattha. Shani dev then killed them both and it is due to the protection provided by Shani Maharaj that it is considered safe and beneficial to touch the Peepal tree on Saturdays.
As per Brahma Purana, Lord Vishnu was born under the Peepal tree as also he is believed to have hidden in the Peepal tree for a long time at a time when the demons had beaten all the devatas. Even goddess Lakshmi is believed to reside in Peepal tree on Saturdays and that is why women worship the tree for many boons and blessings.
But there is more to the Peepal tree than mythological reason only. Scientifically, Peepal tree is known as one of the largest oxygen providers in modern times along with neem & tulsi. As per several researches it’s proven that interacting flow of wind with Peepal leaves kills infection bacteria slowly. Also, licking honey placed on a Peepal leaf cures any speech disorders.
Last but not the least, the Peepal tree has a special significance for Buddhists as Lord Buddha is believed to have gained enlightenment under this tree. Therefore Peepal is also known as the Bodhi tree.
Religious Practices under Peepal tree for special blessings and boons:
- Childless couples hold the ancient Peepal trees at the Ghati Subramanya temple and the Vidur Aswattha temple in special reverence. Many have got their desire of a child fulfilled by offering snake idols under these trees.
- Women circumambulate the Peepal tree and offer Red thread, clothing, bangles to please Goddess Lakshmi for their desired blessing as she is believed to be residing in the tree on Saturdays. Saturdays of Shravana month are considered most sacred for this.
- Hindus believe that the departed souls of ancestors reside in the Peepal tree. Therefore anybody watering the tree on any day is earning Punya and earns merit for his Progeny. It is believed that one gets cured from disease by watering the Peepal regularly and gets free from sorrow.
- The Peepal tree is also worshipped to get rid of enemies. Devotees light an earthen lamp filled with mustard oil under the Peepal tree and chant the mantra given to them by their guru for this purpose. Incense sticks are also lighted during the prayer.