Lite Blogs

Why communities revere this trio of trees

The religiously-inclined consider the act of planting and caring for Triveni trees as a yagna, or worship. And because of its significance to the community, a Triveni is never cut down…reports AMARPAL SINGH VERMA

When there was talk of planting some trees at the grounds in the police post at Malarampura in Hanumangarh district of Rajasthan, constable Vindo Legha knew exactly what he should do. He planted a sapling each of banyan, neem and peepal in a triangle.

The three trees planted together in this fashion is called Triveni; as they grow their branches entwine and the three become one. “Planting Triveni is part of our traditions and associated with our faith,” the policeman said. “They emit a lot of oxygen into the environment.”

Not just in Hanumangarh, but across Rajasthan, Haryana and Punjab, there are many like Legha who enthusiastically plant Triveni, keeping the tradition alive. In Punjab, Triveni is grown in deras and temples whereas in Haryana and Rajasthan they can be spotted in many common spaces in villages, including schools, temples, dharamshalas and crematoriums.

Triveni trees are revered due to the belief that the trinity of Hindu gods — Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva — reside in them and are associated with divine, positive energy. Old, full-grown Triveni trees can provide a large canopy under their interlocking branches full of nesting birds for people to gather and are called ‘Nature’s Dharamshala’.

Himtaram Bhambhu, a Padma Shri awardee from Nagaur, Rajasthan popularly known as the ‘Tree Man’, said, “We believe that these three trees are the abodes of God. They are held in respect. And they are of special importance to the environment because of the long lifespans of these trees. Once we plant them, they give oxygen for hundreds of years. The peepal, or Bodhi tree, can live up to a thousand years.”

Antaryami Kaushik, Assistant Professor of Botany at Government College, Lunkaransar (Bikaner), said that neem trees have been observed to live up to a maximum of a hundred years, while peepal and banyan trees can thrive for hundreds of years. These two trees also have a special property that gives them the ability to release oxygen throughout all 24 hours of the day, unlike other plants that generally have a 12-hour-cycle where they alternatively release oxygen and carbon-di-oxide. “So they are able to release more oxygen than other trees,” he said. “That’s why our sages said these trees were holy, the abode of the Gods. And our people have been planting these trees for centuries.”

The religiously-inclined consider the act of planting and caring for Triveni trees as a yagna, or worship. And because of its significance to the community, a Triveni is never cut down. Pandit Satyapal Parashar, a spiritual orator or bhagwat katha vachak, said, “Peepal, banyan and neem have scientific and spiritual significance. Our ancestors protected them as living forms of God. Planting, watering and nourishing these trees is a great virtue. That is why the tradition of planting the Triveni is still alive, despite the challenges faced by the environment today. I travel around many villages and towns and when I see Triveni everywhere, I feel very happy.”

Communities who live around Triveni widely believe and know of the many medicinal properties of the three trees. Everyone we spoke to had something to say on the subject. The bark of the peepal is beneficial in curing ulcers and throat inflammation; its roots can be used for easing arthritis, its leaves for setting right constipation, the seeds for removing urinary disorders and ripe fruits for coping with heart diseases. The neem has traditionally been used to cure itching, skin diseases, diabetes, intestinal worms, diseases of teeth and gums etc. The banyan tree’s bark, milk, leaves, fruits and roots have the potential of curing hundreds of ailments such as diseases involving ears, stomach, teeth, gums, urinary tracts, skin, cough, cold, blood vomiting, menstrual disorders etc, they said.

Satyavan, a government teacher known as ‘Triveni Baba’, has been campaigning to plant trees in Haryana for the past 27 years. He has planted more than 40 lakh saplings, and among them are 50,000 Triveni. “There is no village in Haryana where the community has not planted the Triveni. People still follow the age-old traditions around the Triveni,” he said. “Neem, peepal and banyan are huge trees and a large number of birds take shelter in them. These birds eat their seeds and carry them far and wide. Under favourable circumstances, these seeds can germinate, grow and become giant trees themselves over the years.”

‘Baba’ Satyavan, a resident of Bisalwas village in Haryana’s Bhiwani district, said his campaign has been influenced by the philosophies of Swami Vivekananda. In 1994, he planted Triveni saplings in Khejarli village in Rajasthan, famous for being the site of the massacre in 1730 of 363 people of the Bishnoi community. Led by a woman named Amrita Devi, now revered as ‘Mother’, the hundreds of people sacrificed their lives to protect the felling of Khejri trees for a new royal palace.

Recognising the rich folk tradition and scientific merits, the forest departments in Haryana and Rajasthan have been giving importance and priority to Triveni under their plantation programmes. Rajasthan’s Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, KC Meena, said, “Our society has been protecting the environment through traditional methods since ancient times. Now, while planting saplings in the state, the Forest Department gives preference to Triveni. There are two factors behind this. One is the common people’s reverence towards the Triveni trees. The other is their long lifespan. Peepal and neem live for hundreds of years. There is no limit to the age of the banyan.”

ALSO READ-‘Border forces of India, Bangladesh must plant trees’

Lite Blogs

DQ joins Green India Challenge

The young actor expressed his happiness and lauded the efforts of Rajya Sabha MP and Green India Challenge founder Joginipally Santosh Kumar…reports Asian Lite News.

Actor Dulquer Salmaan participated in the Green India Challenge by planting a sapling in Hyderabad on Wednesday.

Salmaan, who starred in movies in various languages including ‘Mahanati’ in Telugu, accepted the challenge by actress Aditi Rao Hyadri and planted saplings in KBR Park of Hyderabad. The Malayalam actor stressed the need for collective action to save the environment.

The young actor expressed his happiness and lauded the efforts of Rajya Sabha MP and Green India Challenge founder Joginipally Santosh Kumar.

“It gives me great happiness and incredible satisfaction to be part of Green India Challenge. One should make it a habit not only to plant saplings but also to take care of them. Tending to the plants and trees is everyone’s responsibility, it ensures us and many generations to come with a pollution-free environment,” he said.

On this occasion, he was presented with a copy of the book ‘Vriksha Vedam’ by Raghava, the co-founder of Green India Challenge.

Dulquer Salmaan is the latest celebrity to join the Green India Challenge.

Last week, actors Vishal, Arya and Mirnalini Ravi had participated in the campaign by planting saplings.

Celebrities like Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan, Sachin Tendulkar, Sanjay Dutt, Ajay Devgn, Shruti Haasan, Shraddha Kapoor, Chiranjeevi, Nagarjuna, Prabhas, Krishna, Pawan Kalyan, Mahesh Babu, Rajamouli, Samantha, Pullela Gopichand, P.V. Sindhu, Saina Nehwal and Sania Mirza have also participated in the challenge.

READ MORE-Indian actor Dulquer Salmaan receives UAE Golden Visa

India News Lite Blogs

In this Jammu village, the dead live on in the trees

“Shastron mei likha hai” (it is written in the scriptures) and “punya ka kaam” (it is virtuous work) are two phrases repeated by the priest and locals alike while explaining the origins of this practice and its link to funerals…reports Asian Lite News.

In the lush green village of Kalihand, residents commemorate their deceased by planting trees, the fruits of which are meant for friends, neighbours and travellers.

“When someone dies in our family, we plant a tree,” said Nath Ram (75), a resident of Kalihand village in Doda, a remote district in Jammu and Kashmir. Spread over 572 hectares, the village is located 25 km away from Doda town.

Surrounded by lush green trees and rugged mountain slopes, villagers in Kalihand have a unique culture of commemorating the dead by planting a fruit tree and watering it for at least a year or longer till it bears fruit. Nearly a third of the population in the village are Hindus who follow this tradition.

“Shastron mei likha hai” (it is written in the scriptures) and “punya ka kaam” (it is virtuous work) are two phrases repeated by the priest and locals alike while explaining the origins of this practice and its link to funerals.

Pandit Daya Ram, the village priest, referred to Garuda Puran (a Hindu religious text that speaks of heaven and hell, karma and rebirth and ancestral rites, among other things) to describe how this culture is deeply rooted in religious beliefs. Those who follow the Sanatan Dharma, the priest explained, believe that there is life even after death. And the deeds you do in your life, or those done in your name after your death, decide your path – either leading you to heaven or hell.

“When someone rests under the shade of the tree or the fruit satiates someone’s hunger, it becomes punya ka kaam that would help in the salvation of the one who has died,” he said. “Planting a tree also ensures that the soul of the deceased would have shade to rest and fruit to eat,” he continued while adding that the tradition has been around for generations and has become part of the village’s culture and identity.

“There is a shared understanding among the villagers about what a funeral entails. For economically weaker families, the villagers who come to mourn the deceased contribute financially in order to offer support and sympathy to the bereaved,” said Babu Ram Sharma (45) who planted apple trees in his backyard in honour of his deceased family members.

The actions lead to afforestation on a community level, with apple, saadiyan (wild apricot), and pear trees surrounding the hamlet. “The tree can be planted in a field, on one’s own land or anywhere nearby since one needs to water it daily. Forests are not safe because of the wild animals,” said Sunil Kumar, the Naib Sarpanch of Kalihand. The backyards of homes are filled with trees, a bittersweet reminder of the many generations of bereavement the family has endured.

The tradition has evolved over the years with the inclusion of various types of trees, plants and shrubs but one thing that remains common is that the fruit born by the tree is freely available for everyone except the family members themselves, who are forbidden from picking the fruits.

“Grapevines and shrubs of aakhein (golden evergreen raspberry) are also planted but it is forbidden for the family to eat the fruit from such a tree or plant or profit from it. We have to give it away or any traveller can take the fruit if they desire,” Kumar said.

The practice, whether derived from mythology or passed through tradition, is not restricted to just this village anymore. It is being adapted in nearby villages and also in other regions in the union territory. Krishna Dev, a resident of Bhaderwah, Jammu said, “Planting of trees after the death of a family member is a recent phenomenon here, dating back nearly ten years.”

Across different countries, there are varied rituals connected with death and funerals that help soothe the grieving family. These rituals give a purpose to the actions and offer the solace of being connected to something greater. For residents of Kalihand, growing a tree and sharing its fruits with neighbours, travellers or those in need is a way for them to keep alive the memory of the deceased and offer them safe passage into the beyond.

(The author is a Jammu-based freelance journalist and a member of, a pan-India network of grassroots reporters)

ALSO READ-Holi Returns to Jammu & Kashmir

READ MORE-Political process gathers pace in Jammu & Kashmir