Driving through traffic in Bengaluru is quite a challenge , it is more like playing a video game where all of a sudden a vehicle appears on the path you choose to drive . But this city does throw pleasant surprises when we least expect . On one of my routine drives in my neighborhood I came across one tree in full bloom. This tree had flowers of various hues of vermilion and orange dazzling to glory. I remembered to have seen this tree on one of the outing in the out skirts of Bangalore . This tree is aptly named Flame of the forest. Also known as Butea monosperma and palash, a medium-sized tree, native of the mountainous regions of India and Burma. Each flower consists of five petals comprising one standard, two smaller wings and a very curved beak-shaped keel. It is this keel which gives it the name of Parrot Tree.
Lac is a natural, biodegradable, non-toxic, odourless, tasteless, hard resin and non-injurious to health. Lac is, in fact, a resinous protective secretion of tiny lac insect, Kerria lacca (Kerr.). Lac has been known in India from time immemorial. The term “Lac” seems to have been derived from the Sanskrit word “Laksha” meaning a hundred thousand and is suggestive of the large number of insects involved in its production. The description of the insect and its host plant (Food plant) – Palash (Lakshataru) is recorded in the Atharva Veda. It is mentioned in the Mahabharata that Kauravas built the highly inflammable lakhagriha or Jadugriha (Lac house) with a motive of physically eliminating Pandavas by setting the lac palace on fire. It is a sacred tree, referred to as a treasurer of the gods, and used in sacrifice related rituals. From its wood, sacred utensils are made. The flowers are offered as in place of blood in sacrifice rituals to goddess Kali. The dry stem pieces are used to make sacred fire. They are used to prepare a traditional Holi colour. Flowers are also used as a dyeing fabrics.
Different parts of this tree have been used extensively in traditional medicines . Medicinal plants continue to play an important role in the treatment of various diseases, particularly in developing countries where most people have limited resources and do not have an access to modern treatment.The root bark is used as an aphrodisiac, analgesic and anthelmintic. The stem bark is used for the treatment of dyspepsia, diarrhea, dysentery, diabetes, ulcers, sore throat and snake bites. Scientific studies have established the anti diabetic activity of various parts of this plant. Birds flock to this tree when in full bloom.
This tree is found in various parts of the city too . Look out for trees in bloom and learn about them. Early spring and summer is a wonderful time for blooms. So, this is the time we would like the Urban tree festival to happen. The festival has been christened “NERALU ( ನೆರಳು )”, meaning shade in Kannada and dates have been set for 8th and 9th February 2014. A green, peaceful venue in the heart of the city has been chosen as the venue – Bal Bhavan at Cubbon Park. This is going to be a not-for-profit event and a volunteer driven initiative . As part of this, we would like to weave in a fulfilling collaboration of naturalists, ecologists, visual artists, performance artists, writers, storytellers, historians and citizens to come together to help make this festival successful.
This blog was originally written for Neralu- Tree Festival .