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| Last Updated:: 29/08/2023

The Tradition of Banyan Tree in Odisha













From pre-historic times, the banyan tree has been associated with the life and culture of the people of Odisha, and thus its ecology and environment. Depending on the need, the trees were planted in school premises, on the embankment of village community ponds, burial grounds or as avenue/road trees, for shelter and shade. This was considered a religious duty and rich and poor were involved in this work. So much so that, every Hindu, after his morning bath, poured the first glass of water beneath the trees. Some of the famous banyan trees are as follows




Kalpabata: Jagannath Temple, Puri




There is a huge banyan tree in the inner enclosure which is called Kalpa Bata. It has been described in the Puranas that when the entire earth sank under water, this tree was there. It is believed that if the devotee expresses his / her desire standing under the tree, the tree fulfils it.




The image of Sri Jagannath installed in a subsidiary shrine to the south of kalpa bata, the old Banyan Tree of the Grand Temple is adored and worshipped as Bata Jagannath. The age-old Banyan tree is worshipped in the Temple as Kalpa Bata. It is also known to devotees under the names of Banchha Bata, Akhyaya Bata, Bedanasan Bata, Bansi Bata and so on. The image of Sri Jagannath installed here is named after this ancient Banyan Tree as Bata Jagannath. Not only this, many other deities like Bata Krishna, Bata Ganesh, Bata Mangala and Bata Markandeya have also been installed in the vicinity of this shrine and named after the Banyan tree. As described in the Nitya Karma Paddhhati, Kalpa Bata is worshipped as a god with the spiritual aura of Lord Vishnu. The devotees believe that Kalpa Bata, worshipped with profound faith, and devotion, is graced to fulfil their wishes.




It is evident from the Puranas that during the period of deluge, Rishi Markandeya had prayed to and worshipped Lord Vishnu reposing on a leaf of the banyan tree. In this analogy, Lord Vishnu, by the order of traditional worship, is associated with the banyan tree. The Kalpa Bata of the Grand Temple is thus the replica of Lord Jagannath. And so, whosoever is worshipping this Holy Tree shall be believed to be worshipping Lord Jagannath, the presiding deity of the Grand Temple.




Swetabata, Garoi Ashram, Naugaon Block, Jagatsingpur










Popularly Known as Budhia Baba Ashram, Naugaon block of Jagtsinghpur district is famous for the Sweta Bata. The leaves and flowers are white, unlike the green leaves and red flowers of the normal banyan tree.




Krishna bata, Jagannath temple, Anugul




Krishna Fig is a very large, fast-growing, evergreen tree up to thirty metres tall, with spreading branches and many aerial roots. The unique feature of the tree is that the leaves have a pocket-like fold at the base. The plant is also known as KRISHNA BUTTER CUP. As with most things in India, there is a mythological story of Krishna related to the leaves of this tree. The story goes that Lord Krishna was very fond of butter and would even steal it. Once when he was caught by his mother, Yashoda, he tried to hide the butter by rolling it up in a leaf of this tree. Since then, the leaves of these trees have retained this shape. One such tree was recently established in the Jagannath temple, Anugo, which is a peculiarity and draws the attention of a huge crowd daily.




Ratna Bata,Kandarpur,Cuttack




This is the famous Ratna Bata described in the Bhavishya Malika of Achuytananda Dash who predicted 100 years ago that a rail line will pass thorough this place and Lord Jagannath will be taken to a sea port through this route. There is a temple sub-merged inside this large tank. The railway line has become a reality now and the future will say when lord Jagannath will pass through this way by rail.




Nemalobata,  Salipur, Cuttack




It is famous place in memory of Santh Achyutanand Dash, the legendary foreteller of this soil. Full of a wide variety of banyan trees is a holly place for pilgrimage. Sri Dash used to write the future of People beneath these banyan trees.




Chhatia Bata, Chhatia, Jajpur



Chhatia bata is popularly known as second Neelachal Dham. People believe that Lord Jagannath, Balbhadra and Devi Subhadra will come here for some day. It is also believe that after Lord Jagannath comes here, Satya Yuga will be established. Pradyumna Kumar Dash lives here as a God. Popularly known as Chhatia bata, Chhatia is a sacred place of pilgrimage. The shrine of Lord Jagannath at Chhatia is a modern piece of Orissa temple architecture. Nearby one can find the archaeological remains of Amravati-Kataka, one of the five important forts of Chodaganga Deva, which, with the back drop of the hill Dhania presents an attractive sight.




Traditionally the foreteller Malika is associated with this temple. There is an ancient banyan tree which is popularly known as Chhatia bata and the lord Jagannath temple is also really worth visiting. Das’ prediction about the Naanka drought in 1866, the Super Cyclone in 1999 and other major events in the country have come to pass. Das’ famous poem in Malika says, Jiba Jagata Hoieba Lina, Bali sahi Pahache Kheliba Mina (All human beings will perish and fish will play on the steps of Puri temple). Chhatia is situated at a distance of 25 kilometres from Cuttack.




Uday Bata, Kujang, Jagatsingpur



The place is famous for Rishi Markandeya. It is said that during the pralaya, the rishi was floating in a torrential flood near the sea; a Banyan tree provided support and survived. Since the sea is on the eastern side and the sun rises in the east, the first beam of the sun’s rays pass over the trees giving rise to the name Udya bata which means rising banyan. It is a famous place for sadhus and sanths who take only one meal of kheer before sunset.




Sakhibata, Bagada, Kendrapara




The fame of Kendrapara is comparable with that of Puri. It is known as the Tulasi Kshetra, and is treated as sacred as the Sri Kshetra Puri, Ekamra Kshetra Bhubaneswar, Viraja Kshetra Jajpur and Arka Kshetra Konark. Also known as Gupta Kshetra, Brahma Kshetra, Kandar Nagar, Kendra Palli and Kandharapadhi at different periods of history, Kendrapara, as it is now known, has a rich cultural heritage.




As legend has it, when the Mahabharata war began between the Kauravas and the Pandavas, Balarama, the elder brother of Sri Krishna did not take any side and set out on a sojourn of the country. In the course of his travels, he came to the Kendrapara region where a demon named Kandarasura was torturing the people. Finding no way out, they appealed to him to save them from the demon’s oppression. Taking pity on them, Balarama killed the demon and threw his limbs at various places. The spot where his body fell at Kendrapara came to be known as Balagandi.




Kandarasura had a beautiful daughter named Tulasi who asked Balaram about her future after the death of her father. The Lord was pleased with her humility and indicated that he would marry her and make the place his abode, to be known as Tulasi Kshetra during Kaliyuga. Until then, she should wait as a Tulasi plant. It is said that the image of Balarama was discovered amidst a garden of Tulasi plants in Balrampur near Kendrapara. There are many such absorbing stories associated with the history and culture of Kendrapara. Sakhi Bata, the banyan tree is the mute witness to such incidents.




Similarly, there are banyan trees with specific names like Giridhari bata of Kishore Nagar, Babaja banchhabata of Salipur, Nichhitnta bata of Nandankanan, Gorakdhnath Bata of Jagatsinghpur, Lingaraj Bata Bhubaneswar, Fasi Bata Cuttack, Ghata Bata of Anugul, Ahibata, Sadhubata and Bhetabata, etc. with local ecological traditions.





Banyan Tree in Socio- Religious Tradition in Odisha




Wedding of two trees:




It is an auspicious occasion at Balia village in Balasore district of Odisha. The priest, the guests and other small details needed for an elaborate ceremony are put in place. But this is not an ordinary event. These are invitees to a wedding where the groom is a banyan tree and the bride, a peepal.




“The Banyan and the Peepal tree are considered to be Lord Narayan and Goddess Laxmi respectively by the people of Odisha. And, by getting them married they gain peace, prosperity and happiness”. An age-old tradition, this wedding is organized by the village committee, along with a few plantation volunteers. Locals believe that such events foster a love for trees. Once the ceremonies and the feast are over, the tree becomes a subject of worship for villagers.




Vat Savitri Puja - A Prayer for the Husband












Vat Savitri Puja is celebrated all over India, including Odisha. In this festival, married women pray and fast for their husband’s long life by tying threads around a banyan tree. It honours Savitri, the legendary wife who conquered death for her husband’s life.




Married Hindu women observe this festival by worshiping and  propitiating Savitri as a Devi. On this day women (whose husbands are alive) take a purificatory bath, wear new clothes and bangles and apply vermilion on the forehead. Later, they eat the roots of Vat Vriksha (Banyan tree) along with water. After a simple ritual at home, the women throng at the nearest banyan tree where they pour holy water from the Ganges and tie red threads around the tree and wish for a long conjugal life for their spouses. Wet pulses, rice, mango, jack fruit, lemon, banana and several other fruits are offered as bhoga (offering). After fasting for the whole day they simply take the bhoga. When all formalities of worship are over, they bow before their respective husbands and elders for blessing.




Some women, after returning home, draw Banyan trees using a paste made of turmeric and sandalwood and sit near the drawing and pray for several hours. Other traditions include a fast for three nights and, on the fourth day, water is offered to the Moon God and Vat Savitri is worshipped. The traditions may vary from place to place but the basis of celebrating the festival remains the same.




The lone banyan tree is deified as a Baba, i.e., one who renounces earthly attractions. Here, the tree itself is worshipped as a human being and all the functions of a human saint are performed by the person who dedicated the plant as Baba.