28 June, 2015

Plant Mythology

 One thing I like about Indian mythology is that we have very beautiful stories about how rivers, plants, flowers, etc. came to be. The stories are so reassuring that sometimes, I wish science and its complicated theories didn't exist!

According to Indian mythology, all plants have been created from the hair of Lord Brahma. I had read this in a book called Brahma's Hair by Maneka Gandhi. The book is a collection of myths and stories from all over the country - of about thirty sacred plants and trees, along with some historic and botanical details. 

The book has very few stories from the South. Some flowers and trees that have mythological and religious importance here are missing. Of course, writing an exhaustive book on this subject would be quite a task!

Recently, I have been curious about the mythology behind some flowers common to my surroundings. The plant is a parasite and is always found attached to the branches of huge trees.... The flowers bloom once a year - just before monsoon sets in.

Here are the flowers I'm talking about...... Wild Orchids.....

                                     Wherever they grow in Karnataka, they are known as either Seeta danDe (Seeta's garland) or Draupadi danDe (Draupadi's garland).  Since Seeta and Draupadi are epics apart, I have always been curious about the origin of these names. After some googling, I came across one gardening blog where the author has explained that Seeta danDe has more flowers and Draupadi danDe has fewer..... because, apparently, Seeta had more time to weave flowers than the polyandrous Draupadi!!

 Whatever the mythology behind them, the flowers in the above pic have a story - a real one........ Last year, a small branch from the tree across the road had fallen near our gate. While clearing the debris, I had separated the orchid plant that was attached to the branch and had placed it on a tree inside our fence - simply because I didn't have the heart to throw it away. Three weeks ago, the plant had flowers - the  ones in the pic - and some new plants around. As a gardener, it was one of my happiest moments.....

The garland is full, but the flowers have some space between them. That's why, I do not know if this is Seeta's garland or Draupadi's!

Now, last week, a branch from another tree nearby had fallen due to heavy winds.
 This branch is loaded with enough orchid plants for me to experiment. I'm going to plant a couple in pots, place a couple on another tree and retain some as it is - on this piece of wood.

Let's hope that I can update some interesting results here next year!!

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