Sacred Symbols – The Sacred Kadali Tree

Kadali or Kela which is botanically known as Musa sapientum {Musa paradisco) symbolically represents Lakshmi, Sakambhari, Vana Durga, etc. Banana leaves symbolise coolness and composure. On a higher philosophical plane this tree represents a combination of “Tatva Jnana” or eternal knowledge. It may be interesting to note that the trunk of the banana plant is made of multiple layers. If one starts peeling the layers one would reach a point wherefrom nothing would be left to remove. Thus this symbolically suggests that the quest and process of our inner urge for real knowledge goes on by pronouncing ‘neti-neti”?not this, not this!

Ritualistically speaking this Kadali tree is very popular among Hindus especially in Bengal. This tree also has many names. In Sanskrit and Tamil this is called Kadali and in Hindi and Bengali it is known as Kela and Kola respectively.

During September-October on the full-moon day this tree is worshipped along with Lakshmi Puja. Kela tree is also an essential part of Durga Puja. Kadali is said to be the wife of Brahma also. During Durga Puja different plants are collected, for example, Turmeric, Barley, Wood Apple, the Pomegranate, the Asoka, the Paddy and one Kadali plant is bathed and tied together with a creeper plant called aparajita, and robed in red Unknown as Kalabau. This configuration of Naba-patrika is the wife of Lord Ganesha. This forms part of the vegetation deities of prehistoric Bengal.

During Puja ceremonies Naibedya or offering to the God is done on the Kadali leaf. In southern India, the practice of serving food on this leaf is still in vogue which not only provides sumptuous taste but also hot food served on the leaf
is said to be having a medicinal effect as chemical effect takes place with chlorophyll.

The whole banana tree is very useful and no part of it is considered useless. Its fruit, both unripe and ripe, flower, its stem are pure healthy food. According to Chintaharan Chakraborty, a renowned scholar, “In Madras, when premature delivery takes place, the child is laid on a plantain leaf smeared with oil, the leaf is changed daily, and the baby is thus treated for the period which is less than the normal time of delivery. These leaves are very useful also for healing of wound and ulcer.

Thus Banana tree has lived down the ages as a symbol of mythological Goddess and the vegetation pantheon which has enormous food and medicinal value as well.

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