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Sunday, July 5, 2009

Worshipping the Shami

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SHAMI, the sacred tree taxonomically known as Prosopis spicigera Linn., is sacred to Hindus who worship it before going on an important journey and on the occassion of Dushehra festival. They worship it to check bad impacts of Shani, as they believe.Religious Hindu ladies worship the tree regularly.

Shami is a Sanskrit word which means : one who removes or cleans, or suppresses. It is believed that the worship of Shami removes, cleans, or suppresses all the sins of a person. In ancient times, specially during the Epic age the Hindu warriors would offer prayers to this tree before proceeding to the battle field. The great Hindu Text Mahabharata has a legend that when Pandavas were exiled for 14 years, they had to spend one last year in disguise. It was during that period that they submitted all their arms to a Shami tree and received them back intact after the period of disguise was over i.e. after one year.They worshiped the tree and asked for power and victory in the ensuing battle that was fought in the battle field of Kurukshetra between Pandavas and Kauravas. Pandavas won the battle and hence it is believed that the Shami tree gives power and victory to those who pray to it. On Vijayadashami day people exchange Shami leaves and greet each other. This custom is popular in in Mharashtra and Karnataka states of India.

In Mysore of India, a Dushehra procession marches to a great Shami Tree ( also known as Bani tree in the local language there) and the Maharaja performs royal prayer to the tree, carries a branch of this tree back to his palace. Bisnois of the Indian state of Rajasthan consider shami a sacred tree because the tree has proved itself to be a valuable source of food to them and of fodder to their cattle.

The worship of Shami is called as "Shami Pujan". It is done with recitation of the following prayer-

Shami shamyate paapam-
Shami shatruvinashanam,
Arjunasya dhanurdhari-
Ramasya priyadarsini.

Meaning : The Shami Tree cleans sins. Its thorns are redish in colour. It is lord Rama's favourite tree and in such a tree, pandavas hid their arms. O Shami, Lord Rama has worshipped you. I now embark upon my journey to victory. May You make it pleasant and free from obstacles.

Many communities in the central India worship shami during dushehra. They soak the leaves of shami in water and take bath with this water on the day before Deepawali.

More about Shami :
Agricultural and Medicinal Services of Shami Plant

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