The Real Gold

Being considered to be as valuable as gold for its medicinal values, there is a ritual of exchanging Sonpatta leaves during Dussehra in India. This story has a hidden meaning to it.. It teaches us to share whatever we have with each other. It teaches us to enjoy the Joy of Giving! The one who gives also gets something. We too have something to exchange, as much valuable as the leaves exchanged during Dussehra and that is..our heart.

The Sonpatta Tree (Piliostigma Racemosum/आपटा, श्वेत-कांचन) is a rare medicinal tree which can grow in poor & very harsh climatic conditions. The deciduous tree is propagated easily from seed.

Almost each & every part of this tree has some medicinal values. The stem bark of the tree is an astringent and is used in the treatment of headache, fever, skin diseases, blood diseases, dysentery & diarrhoea. A decoction of the bark is recommended as a useful wash for ulcers. The tree is demonstrated to have anti-oxidant & hepato-protective effects. An extract of the leaves has been proved to show analgesic, anti-pyretic, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, anthelmintic and anti-microbial activity too. The tree has anti-tumor qualities and is widely used in Ayurveda to treat first stage cancer.

The tree has small, creamy white or yellow coloured flowers in axillary or terminal racemes.  The flowers are laxative & seeds are anti-bacterial.

The leaves are used for making bidis (Bidi Leaf Tree). The tree yields a useful gum & fibres. The bark is used for tanning and dyeing.

Despite having so much importance during Dussehra, the rare tree is brutally treated on the Dussehra itself. Taking few leaves is different thing. But people and those who sell these leaves on the day, usually end up defoliating almost the entire tree and ruthlessly breaking its branches. I don't think hurting a live sacred tree will serve the purpose of Dussehra..the purpose of increasing cordiality in relations; to achieve victory over demons. Instead, why not plant or gift the tree itself to our loved ones? The live gold will be a perfect gift on this Dussehra! :-)

The Sonpatta tree is worshipped with the recitation of special prayer, asking for victory over one’s defects & enemies, success in one’s endeavors and reunion with friends..

Ashmantak Mahavruksha Mahadoshnivaran
Istana darshanm dehi kuru shtruvinashnam

Meaning: O great Apta (Ashmantak) tree, you are the one who overcomes great defects. Unite me with my friends and destroy my foes.

There are another two fast growing native species which are commonly mistaken for Sonpatta due to same bi-lobed leaves, known as Purple Orchid Tree (Phanera Purpurea/कांचन) and Orchid Tree (Phanera Variegata/ रक्त-कांचन). These both trees have almost all the qualities of Sonpatta tree.

The leaves of Purple Orchid tree make good fodder for sheep, goats & cattle. The flowers are of much importance in Apiculture. And also as a pot herb in curries & made into pickle (chutni). It is planted for its value as well as for its extreme beauty. It is one of the loveliest of Indian trees. The tree is staggeringly beautiful when in bloom..and it blooms for several months!

The Orchid tree got its name Variegata due to variegated nature of its flower. Its flowers can be found in shades of magenta, lavender, purplish blue or even white.

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