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Friday, Aug 16, 2019

Delhiwale: The temple shade

A leafy tree that is also worshipped

delhi Updated: Aug 15, 2019 14:54 IST
Mayank Austen Soofi
Mayank Austen Soofi
Hindustan Times
Worshippers have tied thick layers of red thread around the trunk of peepal tree in south Delhi’s Shiv Shani temple—in the hope that the gods will make their wishes come true.
Worshippers have tied thick layers of red thread around the trunk of peepal tree in south Delhi’s Shiv Shani temple—in the hope that the gods will make their wishes come true.(HT Photo )
         

India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru once famously declared that dams were the new temples of modern India.

But now, with climate change, we might also ought to regard trees as our temples. Particularly those that somehow survive and thrive in smoggy cities like ours and help to improve air quality.

Happily, the Capital has its share of trees nestled on the grounds of temples and mosques and such sacred spaces. We even have mosques named after trees, like Amrood Wali Masjid in Old Delhi.

Some city trees are breathtaking, real mind-stoppers. Take this gorgeous peepal tree at Shiv Shani temple in south Delhi’s Basant Lok. Its trunk is truly massive, contrasted with the more modest temple itself.

“That tree has been chopped and cropped to a great extent to build a flyover,” reports the temple priest.

Pandit Vidhyanand Jha recalls another lush peepal when the temple was first built in 1980. “Sadly, that tree was chopped during the widening of the road.”

The tree that is still standing has become even more special, because worshippers have tied thick layers of red thread around the trunk—in the hope that the gods will make their wishes come true. On looking at the peepal from a distance, it appears as if anyone has smudged it with red tika.

Offerings of earthen lamps and rose petals, too, are placed around the tree.

This evening, an elderly lady emerges from the temple and stands still in front of the peepal. Her eyes closed, hands clasped as she silently murmurs a prayer. Thereby transforming the tree into a sacred figure, as indeed all trees should now be treated.

PS: The temple’s prasad, comprising halwa and chana, is excellent.

First Published: Aug 15, 2019 14:54 IST

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