Thursday, May 6, 2010

Ode to the Banyan Tree

The banyan tree is by far my favourite tree. 
Majestic and commanding, invading and subduing, it can be both 
a very extracting stranger that throttles life out of another living tree 
and also 
a loving grandmother, surrounded by siblings and off-springs. Quite like the human species that  goes to extremes to protect and propagate its family, its genes. Are we just being what we are meant to be, a violent naturally selfish being?
The name banyan comes from the word ‘bania’ meaning merchants, who conducted businesses from the shade of the banyan trees in ancient times. The world’s largest banyan tree is 550 years old and spreads covering an area of 2.1 hectares. It has 1100 sister trunks. It is called the Thimmamma Marrimanu after a woman Thimmamma of Ananthapur, Andhra Pradesh, India.

There she stands
proud regal
surrounded by her sisters
and brothers, sons and daughters,
growing eternally
spread far, oh so far,
further than the eyes can see.

A fig-eating bird
dropped a seed
into the crevice of a palm
and from there
she let down her fine roots
embracing enclosing
disguising disfiguring.
Palm leaves set
like feathers in her hat,
long legs stretching
to touch the ground,
winding curving
twisting hurting knotting
till together they
looked like a hybrid alien.

Then in a
single minded endeavour
she branches out
in all directions,
and when her arms
begin to hurt
too heavy to hold upright bold,
she lets down roots
to the ground
to grow herself another trunk,
anchoring herself
with perfect ease
to yet again spread herself
wide encompassing
encircling adjoining,
eternally growing
her space her hold her influence.

on the cool brown soil,
the figs lay arranged
as if intentionally
in stunning motifs
of scarlet and green.
I look up to see
the never ending canopy
of the banyan tree
spread far, oh so far,
further than the eyes can see.

© Nalini Hebbar/openmind/2009 - all rights reserved
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magiceye said...

a family tree! beautiful!

Anu Lal said...

Simply beautiful..

Viyoma said...

Enigmatic!! Both the tree and the words describing it!

Vasu said...

Nice and informative post Nalini!
I did not know this trivia about the Banyan.

This reminded me of a very big banyan we had i our boarding school. We spent many days playing around there or trying to swing like Tarzan :)


Lakshmi Rajan said...

banyan tree is my most favourite tree too :) There is a mystic charm to the tree and a majestic, all-pervading feel about it. I never knew that the name banyan had Indian roots... The pic is quiet intresting!

Rajesh said...

Beautiful shot. Good to know about this place.

bollywoodstylediaries said...


Rajendra Raikwar said...

great efforts