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Festival to celebrate two 100-yr-old banyan trees

 

 

 

Residents of Meenambalpuram in Sellur, Madurai, have decided to conduct a festival on July 21 in a move to save two large banyan trees, which are said to be more than a100 years old.

 

 

“You can go around Madurai and find many different trees, but not banyan trees. Sellur is home to two of them, which is the national tree of India. So, we decided to draw people’s attention to them through the festival,’’ said R Abu Bucker, a member of the festival organising committee.

 

 

Residents said till twenty years ago, there were seven banyan trees on the banks of the Sellur tank in Meenambalpuram and people spent their leisure time under them. “My grandad used to talk about village meetings being held under these trees,” said Kumaresan, a resident. Even now, elders here believe their children and grandchildren are lucky to get a chance to swing on the dangling roots of the two banyan trees.

 

 

Banyan trees are also inhabited by many different birds — parrots, myenas, woodpeckers, crow pheasants, crows, storks and others. This area used to be like a bird sanctuary 25 years ago, when the trees flourished, reminisced a villager. “You could even spot monkeys on them,” he said. But, now the trees have decreased to just two, and the stumps of five trees which were destroyed, do not exist, said S Ganeshan, 63, a resident.

 

 

There is a saying in Tamil — Aalum Vizhuthu pol thalaikattum (flourish like the roots of a banyan tree). Newly-married couples were asked to walk through the wide spread crown of these trees in belief that it would bless them with prosperity, said Abu Bucker.

 

 

“Our main aim is to protect the two living trees and draw public attention to them. We intend to clean the area around them, which is littered with waste and building debris,” said Abu Bucker. He added that they would appreciate if some botanical expert comes forward to save the last two trees, which are withered and on the verge of dying. They plan to request the Madurai Corporation to protect the trees.

 

 

 

 

Source:

 

The Times of India, 19 July, Chennai.