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By Nithin Sridhar
Since time immemorial, trees have been worshiped all over the world. In Ancient Egypt, Sycamore and Date palm were considered sacred trees. In Ancient Greece, many trees were held sacred to various gods. For example, oak tree was held sacred to Zeus and myrtle tree was held sacred to Aphrodite. Also Nymphs like Alseids and Dryads were associated with grooves and trees respectively. The Celts worshiped the groves of trees. In Japanese Shinto Shrines, the trees such as cryptomeria are worshiped.
But, it is only among the Indians- the practitioners of Sanatana Dharma or Hinduism, that the worshipping of trees has become very deep rooted and an inseparable part of Hindu religion, culture and lifestyle.
Louise Fowler-Smith in her article “Hindu Tree Veneration as a Mode of Environmental Encounter”, writes that “The worship of trees occurred throughout Europe but declined with the rise of religions such as Christianity and Islam,which regarded such activity as pagan. In India, however, Hinduism accepted local cults, many of which worshiped nature. The Rsis, authors of the sacred Hindu texts, understood the importance of preserving the environment, and reference is made to the divine quality of the natural world throughout these Indian scriptures. The early Hindu sacred texts, the Vedas and Upanishads, make frequent reference to sacred trees, referring to them as the most important living forms on earth. This contributed to the gradual change of the cultural perception of the tree. Sacred trees may now be found throughout India”. She further writes that “Trees are decorated in India for a wealth of reasons. Historically sacred trees have been connected with rites of renewal, sexuality, fertility, conception, birth, initiation, death and rebirth. Throughout India, Hindu communities have their own individual deities, or Gramadevata- which are regarded as synonymous with the locality and everything within it. (…..)The deity is not visible to the local community, so a specific place or object is chosen to direct the act of worship. The Devasthana,or shrine of a Grama Devata, is usually connected with an important feature of the natural world such as a hill, a rock, a stream or pond. These shrines are most commonly associated with a tree or grove of trees, with the tree embodying the local goddess”. Hence, as far as India and Hinduism is concerned, the worship of trees is not only a very ancient practice, but it is also a current living reality.
The Hindu scriptures lay a strong foundation for the worship of environment in general and trees in particular. Some of the important trees that are worshiped by the Hindus are Peepal, Banyan, Ashoka, Shami and Palasha.
Rig-Veda, one of the four divisions that Vyasa created in the Vedas, dedicates an entire Hymn (Book 10, Hymn 97) to the herbs.
The Manu Smriti (1.49) says that plants and trees have life and hence they also feel pain and pleasure.
Some of the Hindu festivals like Amala Ekadashi, Ashoka Pratipada, Bakula Amavasya, Vata-Savitrivrata, Kadalivrata and Sheetala Puja are especially dedicated to the worship of various plants and trees.
To properly understand the philosophy behind the worship of trees, one must first understand the philosophy of Hinduism.
Worship of Trees as Brahman
Hinduism considers that it is Brahman or God who manifests, sustains and absorbs back the entire Universe and all its objects. Hence, each entity, whether living or non-living, is sustained by Brahman itself.
In Bhagavad Gita (10.20), Lord Krishna declares- “I am the Self, O Gudakesa (Arjuna), seated in the hearts of all creatures. I am the beginning, the middle and the end of all beings.”
Similarly, Isha-Upanishad (Verse 1) declares that- “God inhabits all the objects in the Universe”. Hence, God or Brahman manifests all the objects and then becomes seated in their hearts as their very own innermost Self/Atman. Therefore, plants and trees are not lifeless entities, but instead, they are living beings that are inhabited by Brahman itself. The same Brahman who inhabits the humans also inhabits the trees. Therefore, at the highest level, the worship of trees is nothing but the worship of Brahman who exists as the Innermost Self of both the trees and the humans. The Trees are then realized as being non-different from Brahman. But, such worship in a real sense can be practiced only by liberated sages (the Jivanmuktas) who alone can perceive their Innermost Atman in all objects and all objects as in their own Atman. However, others can worship Trees as a manifestation of Divine.
Worship of Trees as a manifestation of the Divine
Various trees have been associated with various deities. Ashwatta or Peepal tree has been specially associated with Lord Krishna. In Gita (10.26), he declares that among the trees, he is the “Ashwatta”. Similarly, Rudraksha (meaning Rudra’s eyes) seeds are associated with Shiva, Banyan tree is associated with Brahma, Ashoka tree is associated with Kaama (God of Love) and Palasha tree is associated with Soma or Moon.
Almost all Hindu deities are associated with one plant or the other. This association must be understood properly. Trees like Peepal and Banyan are living representation of the Gods. Hence, those Gods can be worshiped directly through the trees without having to invoke Gods into an idol or fire. It is for this reason that Lord Krishna says he is the Peepal among the Trees, denoting that Peepal tree is home to Vishnu-tattva. Hence, a worship of Peepal is same as worshiping Vishnu in an idol.
Trees and plants can be worshiped as a direct manifestation of various deities, or as objects conducive to the worship of those deities. Another way of worshiping the trees is by showing reverence to their life-force.
Worship of Trees as Living Spirits
The trees are to be respected and revered as living entities. They are not to be ignored as non-living objects that must be used and exploited for self-interest, but instead they are to be recognized as living forces that sustain the entire Earth.
Rig-Veda (5.41.11) says “May Plants, the Waters, and the Sky preserve us, and Woods and Mountains with their trees for tresses”.
This prayer recognizes plants and trees as living forces of nature that nourish humans and the entire planet. The flowers, fruits and shade that a tree gives are seen as items of nourishment that a tree provides us out of love.
This sentiment that recognizes trees as living beings can also be seen in the ritual that is prescribed for felling of trees for the purpose of making wooden idols for worship.
The tree that was selected for felling was worshiped by offering various substances to it. Then at night the Devatas, Pitrs, Rakshasas, Nagas, Asuras, Ganas and Vinayakas were all worshiped.
The idea behind the ritual is three fold. First, to ask permission from the tree to cut it; second to ask forgiveness from the tree for the violence caused to it; third to request the Devatas to impart better life to the spirit of the tree for the sacrifice it is doing.
These three modes of worshiping of the trees denote three stages of spiritual evolution of an Individual. A person first learns to communicate with the trees with an understanding that they are living forces of nature.
Then, his understanding evolves and he perceives various manifestations of divine as inhabiting the trees. He will begin to worship different deities through the worship of different trees. Finally, he attains the self-knowledge that his innermost-self/Atman alone exists and he, the tree and all other objects are all in reality non-different from Atman. Hence, through the medium of tree worship, a person ultimately attains Moksha.
By Prerana Agarwal Saxena
In all the wedding excitement, it's easy to overlook the impact a wedding has on the environment. While everyone is making their big fat Indian wedding dreams come true, they are also adding their carbon footprint and undue energy consumption. Modern couples are now looking for ways to have a wedding with a sustainably conscious mindset. It's become about incorporating less waste, locally sourced and seasonal food, natural materials over the use of plastic. Mindful wedding planning and decor includes the use of recycled paper and goods along with eco-friendly venue needs. Check out this quick guide to achieve a sustainably conscious wedding without compromising on luxury:
Choose locally sourced material to uplift artisans
Sustainable can be luxurious too, incorporate some native flavour into the decor and theme. With the use of locally sourced materials and local artisans coming into play, the wedding instantly becomes sustainable. Include the work of local vendors ensure minimal packaging requirements, thus saving on unnecessary plastic and lamination. It also decreases the need for transporting elements from other cities and hence lowers the carbon footprint. For instance, at one of our weddings, we made use of sand art for a setup in Jodhpur. This helped promote local work while also being environmentally friendly with zero wastage of other materials. In another instance from Rajasthan, the traditional glass-blown technique was used to build decor items while giving a cultural touch to the destination wedding.
Sustainable can be luxurious too, incorporate some native flavour into the decor and theme. | Photo by Jason Coudriet on Unsplash
Say yes to recycling
One should be mindful and avoid the use of plastic and other non-recyclable materials in decor wherever possible. It can be a small step such as making a conscious switch from plastic water bottles to copper jugs or glass bottles. Also use artificial floral decor thus minimising the wastage produced from real flowers. This recyclable decor is then donated to various NGOs, further ensuring sustainable use of resources. Such steps, however small they might be, keep the environment free from the release of any additional carbon footprint.
One should be mindful and avoid the use of plastic and other non-recyclable materials in decor wherever possible. | Photo by Ravin Rau on Unsplash
Go for zero-waste wedding decor
Make use of fabric as it enhances the elegance of the wedding while being sustainable. Include vibrant colours apt to the theme of the wedding and bring in bright sprightliness with breathable fabrics. Ensure to include LED lights for lighting. They can be incorporated as string lights or be used on passageways with innovative decor items. They also help conserve energy and bring in soulful energy for nighttime decor. Choose virtual invitations, keeping up with the digital times. Make a conscious choice of plated dinner menus rather than a buffet as they allow less wastage of food and ensure enough food for guests in attendance.
LEDs can be incorporated as string lights or be used on passageways with innovative decor items. | Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
Include Sustainable Gifting
Gift sustainable wedding favours -- gifts that grow. Offering a plant or a succulent, is a great idea. One can also gift recycled organic fabrics and cutlery or zero-waste kitchen and bathroom essentials to use in their homes as some distinct gifting options.
Gift sustainable wedding favours -- gifts that grow. | Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash
Acting in the best interest of the environment and the society, Theme Weavers Designs has started a social cause, Weaving Hope, where a part of their earnings along with food and decor are donated to social communities. Royal Rendezvous, is an event started by us to put India on the Global Map, inviting international wedding planners to India to experience the rich culture and heritage, also employing and displaying the work of local artisans to this international audience.
By applying the values of sustainability, you can reduce the energy consumed and the resources used as much as possible. Go ahead and have a luxurious zero-waste wedding and navigate into the world of green living! (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Luxurious , Gift, sustainable, wedding favours, gifts that grow. Gifting, recycling, locally sourced, material. zero-waste
The Tamil Nadu health department has administered 16,43,879 lakh doses of vaccine in the second mega vaccination camp organised by it. The state public health department in a statement on Sunday said that this has taken the total vaccination to one crore since the beginning of September till date. The vaccination was administered from 7 a.m. till 7 p.m. and the compiled data was made available late at night.
The health department officials also said that as the state has almost exhausted its quota of vaccines, there would not be any vaccines on Monday. Regular vaccination will resume after the vaccine supplies arrive from New Delhi, officials said. The state health department had expected to vaccinate 15 lakh people on Sunday in 18,824 centres spread across primary health centres, anganwadis, noon meal centres, government hospitals, schools and some auditoriums.
The health department officials also said that as the state has almost exhausted its quota of vaccines, there would not be any vaccines on Monday. | Photo by Mat Napo on Unsplash
Of the 16,43,879 people who were inoculated, a total of 10,85,097 received their first dose and 5,58,782 their second dose of vaccine, the statement said, A total of 9,66,568 people in the age group of 18-44 were vaccinated on Sunday and vaccines were administered on 5,02,578 people aged between 45- 59 in the mega vaccine camps.
State health minister Ma Subramanian, who inaugurated the vaccination at Pollachi, also visited the centres in six districts -- Coimbatore, Erode, Namakkal, Tiruppur, Dharmapuri and Salem. The state government, according to the health minister, is to receive the next allotment of vaccines on September 21. Minister while speaking to IANS said, "We will be receiving the next allotment of vaccines on September 21 itself and we will resume vaccinations immediately. The state has already touched one crore vaccine-mark in the month of September till date." (IANS/MBI)
Keywords: COVID, vaccine, vaccination camp, Tamil Nadu, India, vaccinated, mega camp
Festivals are just around the corner and while you brainstorm about OOTDs (outfit of the day), don't forget the right makeup. Hanisha Kapoor, COO, ArchiesBeauty.com shares makeup trends experimented by these Bollywood divas throughout 2021 for inspiration. While some stuck to the classics, others mixed it up... take a look:
The Classic Red Lip
We don't see a future where classic red lips go out of fashion. The right way to achieve this celebrity look is to focus on accentuating your lips and keeping the rest of the face minimal. Give your lips a good scrub to plump them, moisturize and follow it up with a red lip liner to define the shape of your lips. Now go on with the perfect shade of red and finish your look with a slick of eyeliner, minimal concealer, and foundation.
We don't see a future where classic red lips go out of fashion. | Photo by Ina Garbé on Unsplash
No Makeup Look
Deepika Padukon is the perfect example of a no-makeup look. This natural beauty does a wonderful job of achieving the minimal soft look by softly cover any dark spots or blemishes and highlighting features she's most proud of. To achieve this start with concealer and use small dots to brighten your darker areas like under eye, corner of the nose or upper lip, and any visible spots, and set it up with loose powder. Apply a soft pink lipstick, light blush, and mascara.
Deepika Padukon is the perfect example of a no-makeup look | Wikimedia Commons
This look shouts pink. When it comes to rosy looks, Janhavi Kapoor does a phenomenal job. Everyone should try a rosy look once in a while. As we are focusing on only one shade, this look is pretty easy to achieve. Bring out your favourite pink lipstick, favourite pink blush, and a matching shade of eye shadow. Start with the base - concealer, and foundation and set it up with loose powder. Follow it up with eyeshadow, lipstick, and blush. Remember to draw a line by not using any pink mascara, eyeliner, or a bold shade of lipstick, as this is meant to be soft on the eyes.
When it comes to rosy looks, Janhavi Kapoor does a phenomenal job. | Wikimedia Commons
Glass Skin Makeup
The glass skin makeup is inspired by Korean skincare. This look is slightly complex with an equal focus on skin before makeup, so slather on those moisturizing serums and creams to prep your skin first. Start with a highlighting primer, keep your foundation and concealer minimal to avoid looking cakey. Follow it up with soft blush & nude lips and lots and lots of highlighter. Use the highlighter on the main points of your face, like upper cheekbones, the centre of the forehead, the tip of the nose, cupid bone, and chin. If you are feeling a bit extra, don't hesitate to put some on your shoulders and collar bones. This celebrity makeup look makes your skin glow without the need for a spotlight.
The glass skin makeup is inspired by Korean skincare. | Photo by 邱 严 on Unsplash
Pop It Up
Put a zing to your party look with the pop of funky colour. This look is meant to get you in the mood of partying all night. This works with your eye makeup while keeping the rest of the face minimal. Start with the base - concealer, apply a bit extra on your eyelids to make the colour pop. Don't mind going the extra mile and colour blocking your eyes with complementary colours on eyelids and under the eye. Apply nude lipstick and a soft blush to balance your look.
This look is meant to get you in the mood of partying all night. | Pixabay
(Article originally published by N. Lothungbeni Humtsoe) (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Celebrity, makeup, Deepika, Jhanavi, Korean, Red Lipstick, Glass Makeup, Pop makeup