The Vat, Bargad or banyan tree is one of the most venerated trees in India. It has the ability to survive and grow for centuries and is often compared to the shelter given by God to his devotees. It also symbolizes the personality of a benevolent ruler or head of family who nourishes and looks after all those under his care. Its large leaf is a motif commonly used in worship, rituals and festive sacrifices. The banyan tree is mentioned in many scriptures as a tree of immortality.Its aerial roots grow down into the soil forming additional trunks and therefore called Bahupada, the one with several feet (Bahu-several, Pada-feet). It symbolizes longevity and represents the divine creator, Brahma. We find this tree invariably planted in front of many temples. The numerous stems of the banyan tree are regarded as the home of gods and spirits. The Rishis and Munis (sages) sat under the shade of this tree to seek enlightenment, held discourses and conducted Vedic rituals.In Hindu mythology, the tree is called Kalpavriksha, the tree that provides fulfillment of wishes and other material gains. It symbolizes Trimurti – Lord Vishnu is believed to be the bark, Lord Brahma, the roots, and Lord Shiva, the branches.The banyan tree is said to have nourished mankind with its ‘milk’ before the advent of grain and other food. According to the Agni Purana, it symbolizes fertility and is worshipped by those who want children. For the same reason, it is never cut. Even its leaves, which are used as cattle fodder, are broken only when there is a famine. It is believed that if the tree is cut, a goat should be sacrificed in atonement. More

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