Saturday, October 08, 2011

Leaves & Dussehra

Yesterday my best friend asked me why I didn't give her leaves on Dusshera, for a moment I thought I heard her wrong, then I asked her, "What leaf? Why?". She told me that there is a custom where people exchange leaves and receiving these leaves was considered to be lucky. Well, I didn't know any of this till now, so I did some research to find out about the custom.

Primarily, there are two tree leaves that are used, one is Apta/Apati & Shammi. Also, there are two legends surrounding the custom, one related to the Ramayana & other to Mahabharata.

Shammi leaves
One legend has it a young man named Kautsa in Ayodhya after attaining his education from his guru Varatantu offered him Gurudakshina (Gurudakshina refers to the tradition of repaying one's teacher or guru after a period of study or the completion of formal education) which he declined to accept, but when Kautsa insisted Guru Varatantu asked for 14 crore gold coins. Kautsa approached Lord Ram for help, and Lord Ram promised to help him and asked him to wait near the Shammi & Apta tree in his village. In 2 days time, Lord Ram with the help of Lord Kuber - Lord of wealth - showered gold coins from the leaves of Shanu and Apati Tree and the leaves of the trees became gold coins. Kautsa collected the coins and gave 140 million gold coins to Guru Varatantu. The rest of coins were distributed to the needy by Kautsa. This happened on a Dussehra day. To commemorate this event people collect leaves of Apta tree and present it as sona or gold.

Apta leaf exchange on Dussehra
Another legend says it is believed that in the Mahabharata, the Pandavas after wandering in the forest for 12 years, hung their weapons on a Shammi tree before entering the court of king Virat to spend the last one year undercover. After the completion on the day of Dussehra, they brought down the weapons from the tree and declared their true identity. Since that time the exchange of Shami leaves on Dussehra day became a symbol of goodwill and victory.

Apta tree, Bauhinia Racemosa, is also known as 'Sonpatta', being considered to be as valuable as gold for its medicinal value. Apta is used as a cure for digestive diseases such as diarrhoea and dysentery & it has anti-tumour qualities and is used to treat the first stages of cancer.

There might be numerous stories associated with the distribution of these leaves, but one thing is that people are always seen to be wishing the good of the other while giving them the leaves.

1 comment:

Tanaz Kerawala said...

So where is my leaf :P jaldi bhejti