A brief note on the history of Banyan tree.
They call it Barh or Borh, others call it Banyan, but for me, it always remains a “Bargad ka paed” as it is in Urdu.
Early this year, I went to my native village and found myself wandering around here and there in search of some big huge mighty trees. I found some. I found this. A Banyan tree.
Just along a roadside, behind a small village mosque, stands a beautiful barh or banyan tree which is unique due to its huge and extensive foliage. From a distance, the tree appears like a huge giant providing shade to the mosque. About the exact age of the tree, I can only say, it is much old but maintained perfectly by the villagers. It should be and it showed love and affection of the villagers to this banyan. They even hide some of its trunks and roots for preserving it.
This showed the complex relationship of a man with the trees around and how we are innately linked together with our environment. A little damage to them would also be a permanent destruction for us( like global warming). In the evening, the barh served as the home for birds, the mystifying chirping and twittering of these birds along with the voice of Azan gives a spiritual experience.
For the villagers in most traditional villages of Pakistan, both banyan and peepal trees provides a meeting place.They used to gather around the shade of the tree to relax, to chat and for discussing and making some important decisions. These trees are a common feature of the village life in Pakistan as they are allowed to grow near houses, mosque and along roadsides.
They are many beliefs about banyan tree in our culture. It is believed that a giant tree is said to have sprung from a twig chewed by the great mystic saint Kabir.
In old days, banyan trees were planted along main roads which served as oasis for travellers, who used to cover long distances either by walking or by riding a horseback. The banains or merchants used to sell their goods under the shade of the tree and eventually banyan bacame the name of the tree itself.
The banyan is a sacred tree, environment-friendly and it symbolizes immortality and eternal life.