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The Wish Fulfilling Tree

by Quratulain:

“O you shaggy-headed banyan tree standing on the bank of the pond,
have you forgotten the little child, like the birds that have nested
in your branches and left you?
Do you not remember how he sat at the window and wondered
at the tangle of your roots and plunged underground?
(The Banyan Tree by Rabinder Nath Taigore)

A Triplet of Banyan Trees near Chehrie, Gujurkhan at G.T Road
While moving from Rawalpindi towards Lahore on The Sher Shah Suri s Grand Trunk Road, A number of Banyan trees stands high and proud along the road, their shade extending over the whole Road. G.T Road being an anciently travelled route of the traders and invaders alike is dotted with mighty cool Banyan Trees. In the villages of Punjab, its not an unusual site to find Two or more Banyan Trees clubbed together over a Pond of muddy green water . As if some old couple, missing their children and sitting hand in hand by the water waiting for centuries . A banyan tree is a symbol of resilience. It makes you nostalgic wondering what intricate secrets they have seen and held in their potent hearts for decades. They must have stood their when the great Alexander roared to claim the world, Moguls dynastical adventures, Sikhs rapid rise to the fame, and as British came and drove the patrons of these trees off their thrones. Borha Burgad saw the Punjab bloodied when their people strived to get the new homelands..must have seen loved ones leave, new ones coming. Must have felt sad or may be angry..but nonetheless held out. Sadly, today a lot of Banyan trees, the old Bargad of children s stories , the sacred bohar or barr of the Hindus, the Sub continent village s congregation place, a shade in the scorching heat, a friend is being cut down mercilessly and covertly at places.
Banayan tree is Native to Indian sub continent. Here it is known as Bargad, Burr, Borh in Urdu/ Punjabi and Wad in Marathi. In Sansikrit Scriptures, it is known as NayaGordha and Vat-varikshya. British Invaders gave it the name of Banayan tree after the Banyas or traders of the Hindu Clans who did their dealings under the enormous tree. Sub continent’s Banyan ‘s botanical name is Ficus Benghalensis.

Hindus belief that in the ancient world, Nirantali, the first mother of the earth was sent by the gods to create the world. She carried with her tiny banyan tree seeds wrapped in leaves. First she made the sun, the moon and the earth. Then she created Human Beings. But the sun beat down on the humans so she with her kind heart gave them the banyan seeds to plant and get shade. The seeds grew and became a tree with providing no shade. People complained to Nirantali, so she pulled on the tiny leaves until they became large and stretched the branches till they came all the way down to the ground. Soon people came to sit, chat, gossip and celebrate under the huge kind tree. Banyan tree became the life line of the sub continent village. The people built ponds of water or the Baoli under the Banyan tree to provide a source of water for the village cattle and population both. This tree is also sacred to the Buddhists. After attaining enlightenment, Lord Buddha is believed to have sat under a Banyan tree for seven days, absorbed in his new-found realization. South Asian art has featured banyan trees throughout history. One example dating from the 2nd century BC is a stone pillar found in the Vidisha region (now the state of Madhya Pradesh in India).
In Pakistan‘s villages it is still revered as the community heritage planted by their ancestors. Children use its hanging roots as swings, villagers for Punchayat, women as a wish fulfilling tree where they burn oil lamps every Thursday and hope for a good harvest, or a heir or rectification of a strayed husband. A Burgad is a father figure for the community, where local poems analogize a Burgad to the head of the family, the old Father or a Grandfather in the village s extended joint families.
The tree is not merely a symbol of the glory bygone. It also has the medicinal value, and revered to be a remedy for pain, infertility, Diabetes, sours, ulcers, rheumatism, lumbago, Teeth and gum disorders, chronic diarrhoea and dysentery. Banyan tree is also best for preparing the Bonsai, an art of creating miniature trees.
These days the fad is to plant exotic trees like Paper Mulberry and Pine Trees. This is equivalent to the colonization by the foreign trees as this old native looks on waiting for some attention. A number of trees have been cut down at a lot of places including Islamabad and along the Punjab province. In an effort to save this old companion, the trees are being numbered in order to keep a record. However, they are still being cut down. An effort deems necessary to photograph and archive it for the ever-changing Administrative bodies, so that they can be used as reference for the periodical checks of the state of the banyan trees. New Bargad trees need to be planted as a part of promoting native sustainable trees. They must be clubbed in a group for a specific area and declared a national heritage in danger of extinction. Communities be encouraged to adopt banyan trees and monitor them. The Bargad tree is known as the wish fulfilling tree by the villagers, it’s a beacon of hope which must not die.

Quratulain Fatima
Writer is a Civil Servant who can be reached at qfatima6@gmail.com and moodee_q@twitter.com

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16 Responses to "The Wish Fulfilling Tree"

  1. fig tree United States Safari Mac OS says:

    Yet Pakistan is actively planting Palm Trees from Arabia which doesn’t survive more than few years
    just to recreate Arabia in Indian Subcontinent. once the tree died, they keep planting them
    out of sheer ignorance.

    and even Eucalyptus Tree from Australia which saps a lot of water.

    Banyan is a fig tree. Nature (PBS America) did a documentary on a fig
    tree in africa. how hundreds of animals depended on its fruit, shade and protection.

  2. Hayyer India Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    The Bodh or Banyan is a slow growing tree and allows nothing else to grow beneath it The Punjab Banyans are as nothing compared to those in Bengal. The famous one in the Botanical gardens is spread over five acres. The original trunk is lost and it supports itself over the laterally descended aerial roots. The Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment under the Banyan or Bo tree.

  3. Very informative post. like the writer, whenever travelling to Lahore, these mystery tree always catch my attention. I remember how the mention of these trees in the old stories of hunters in Urdu Digest used to fascinate me.
    Yes, I agree that these trees which are native to our land must be grown rather than importing saplings alien to our environment.
    Since the writer is a civil servant, I pray she gets a chance to implement what she so ardently desires.

  4. Palm Tree Lover United States Google Chrome Windows says:

    Palm tree is so beautiful. It lives in harmony with nature. It lives in harmony with other palm trees. Palm tree supports other trees. It is just and fair. What is barghad tree? A braggard. Ugly tree with ugly name. Twisted branches. Greedy roots. Unjust leaves. Palm tree always has its arms stretched up toward skies. It is divine. The braggard tree looks down on its toes. It is so proud it doesn’t even pray. Palm tree is light. Braggard is darkness. I am so glad to see more palm trees. They will spread even more light.

  5. ex paki United States Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    @fig tree,Sir Paki MULLAHS planting “Palm Trees from Arabia”, because they wish to make it, look alike “holy land”.

  6. AKB Pakistan Opera Windows says:

    Palm trees are not popular in Pakistan ,,It’s some other variety of tree which is flourishing widely all over Karachi and making it greener. I don’t know its name but it is very dense, grows extremely tall forming a thick hedge but has very brittle branches. It doesn’t need water once passed initial stage of growth…flourishes well in all kinds of soil and could be seen everywhere in Karachi, even on the beach. It’s this tree which has made Karachi look greener than ever.
    .
    I have a PIPLI or peepal tree in my house. Will the original poster shed some light on the difference between pipli, peepal and bargadh??

    Congrats to Quratullah for this brilliant article!:)

  7. AKB Pakistan Opera Windows says:

    here again…
    the tree I mentioned grows fast and reaches a height of 20 feet in 2 years or so!!It doesn’t bear flowers or fruit ….but bears some berry like bunches hanging profusely during some part of the year. The leaves are conical and ever green!

  8. Milestogo United States Safari iPhone says:

    Trees are not Arabic or punjabi. Lets plant all kind of trees – trees mean no harm.

  9. AKB Pakistan Opera Windows says:

    I recall Bunder Road (now MA Jinnah road) and all major roads of Karachi garnished with huge Bargad or Neem trees. Some fell down during storms while the others have been cut down. These trees were glorious and impressive in their magnanimity also in that they provided shelter from sun to people waiting at bus stops, provided a nook to the shoe shiner or street dentist who ran their business under their shade. On lawrence road (now nishtar rd) a mochi would sit and make leather belting for the industry as well as all types of leather washers for pumps etc…..some puncture wala’s , tea sellers and book sellers were also seen running their show under them. Why then Bargad shouldn’t be regarded as a ‘sacred tree’ not only by Hindus but Muslims as well?

  10. ex paki United States Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    @AKB sir your post naming Bundar and lawrence road, which no one now remembers, made my eyes wet. you tried to “Muj Ko Lotaa Do Meri Ahad e Guzasha Ki Kitaab” All my love and respect you damn man.

  11. Kamath. Canada Safari iPad says:

    Btrees, shrubs, flowers and grass etc. are so important. They give shade, fruits and peaceful abode for chirping birds and small animals and make one’s soul rest in peace and calm. Have you wondered how on feels in big cities like Dallas which is a city of concrete jungle. So alien.

    Today’s cities and mankind greenery, trees animals and birds. Then we can connect to our past and draw inspiration .

  12. Quratulain Pakistan Google Chrome Windows says:

    The Banyan Trees are a beautiful reminder of the days by gone..today we dont even notice them mostly engrossed in our phones and ipads while travelling along the GT road. There are quite a number obf bnayan trees in Gujurkhan it self which are still safe due to their community value for the villagers. plantation of more such trees need to be encouraged at all places..This is our history and This is our culture.

  13. AKB Pakistan Opera Windows says:

    SHIKR DOPEHR PIPLEE DAY THALLAY
    MEIN CHANKAIYAAN WANGAAN!!

    Wow!Pipal trees also served as tryst in rural areas!!

    .
    I would usually avoid to sit or park my car under the Bargad as whenever i did so the eagles sitting high above would spill their crap ….that would stick like slaked lime and ruin the car’s paint!!

    .

    Indoors games such as chess, cards and bhaasha were usually played under the boarh or bargad by the elderly or retired while the younger ones would swing on one or two swings permanently tied to its thicker branches …..what a fun it was!!
    .

  14. Rex Minor Germany Google Chrome Windows says:

    Hey friends of Trees,

    The one thing which one should not ignore is the oxygen, which the trees provide their importance for the climate and the environment. Oak trees are good for furniture and walnut and mulbery trees have several varieties and some give fruits as well as provide protection from the sun in hot summer days. Pakistan is renown for the export of mulberry trees to Texas, USA whereas India is famous for a particular variety of Nim tree which has medcinal properties.

    During my breaks, I am fond of planting all kinds of trees including variety of cedars, fruit trees and flowering plants.

    Rex Minors

  15. AKB Pakistan Opera Windows says:

    still some old bargad, neem trees can be seen in the High court of Sindh at karachi’s courtyard…or parking area. It is so refreshing to look at them standing with all their past and present grandeur!
    I remember waiting under a huge bargad tree at the Saeed manzil bus stop in Karachi….oh! how magnificent were those trees! One more tree I remember …a huge tree….in front of the irani hotel at the tram junction in saddar….exactly on the opposite corner of where Farzand Ali qulfi wala is still there…..people from all ranks used to gather under it to submit their get a word puzzles to the newspaper vendor sheltered below it. There are still huge old bargad trees on the road to Clifton …abutting the road to 70 Clifton …

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