Adding a unique feature to Vindhya mountain range, are two small hills covered with parijat trees, widely known as Harsingar, in the Gavhalu hamlet 40 kilometres from Indore on Khandwa road.
Parijat, featured as divine in Hindu mythology, is also called ‘tree of sorrow’ and ‘the night jasmine’ and falls in the small tree category.
While the parijat trees, featured as divine in Hindu mythology and is called ‘tree of sorrow’ and ‘the night jasmine’, are found in abundance in the sub-himalayan and Godavari regions, they are rarely seen in the Vindhyan side.
Locally known as parijat hills, the twin hills are entirely covered with innumerable trees, however only in the form of shrubs about 7-8 feet tall. “The tree can grow upto 20-30 feet, but in the hills in Gavhalu, their growth could be stunted due to over-exploitation by locals. They used the branches of the trees to thatch roofs, build boundary walls and as fuel,” said Sufi Shahzad Khan, a Gavhalu resident who supports organic farming.
Meanwhile, Professor AB Seervani, former head of Botany department at Holkar Science College, said that isolated parijat trees can be found in gardens of a few urban households too. “Due to wild growth, parijat trees are found in abundance in these forest areas, but their stunted growth is a cause of concern,” Prof Seervani said.
Parijat is scientifically proven to have great therapeutic properties
Parijat is scientifically proven to have great therapeutic properties. Botanists and Ayurveda practitioners say that the leaves of the tree, containing 3.5% organic calcium, are best for treatment of arthritis. They have anti-viral, anti-fungal, analgesic, anti-pyretic, antispasmodic, hypotensive and respiratory stimulant properties, experts claim.
“Leaves and barks of this tree are antibilious and expectorant (medicine which promotes bronchial secretion), can cure rheumatism, bilious fever, bronchitis, arthritis and many other illnesses,” said Dr Mukesh Vani, principal of Navyug College in Badnagar, and is a botanist who is expert in medicinal uses of plants.
The scientific name of the tree is Nyctanthes arbor-tristis. “The ‘Tree of Sorrow’ refers to the night-flowering habit of the plant. There is a tale that a certain king’s daughter fell in love with the Sun, who very soon deserted her. In despair, she killed herself and was cremated. From where her ashes fell arose this Tree of Sorrow which, unable to bear the sight of the Sun, blooms at night and drops its flowers each morning,” said Prof Seervani, adding that people weave such stories to add to the importance of plants and preserve them.
Another story says Lord Krishna brought this tree from heaven for his beloved wife Satyabhama.