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Coconut Tree

Botanical Name Cocos nucifera Linn.
Common NameCoconut tree, Nariyal (Hindi), Thennai (Tamil), Narikela (Sanskrit)

Distribution

Coastal tracts of India

Religious association

The coconut tree has been accorded a distinct place in Indian culture as Kalpavriksha or the ‘wish-fulfilling tree’. The fruit is considered one of the most auspicious offerings to the Gods and is usually broken in front of deities. A ‘Purnakumbha’ is a pitcher (Kalasam) filled with water and topped with fresh mango leaves and a coconut. This pot is used in various Hindu rituals and pujas.

The fruit is also believed to represent Lord Shiva – the three eyed God and the three black marks on the coconut shell, symbolising His eyes. The fruit is also associated with Goddess Lakshmi and hence, is referred to as ‘Shreephal’ (shree = Lakshmi + phal = fruit).

Uses

Almost every part of the tree is useful in one or the other way. The liquid (coconut water) inside the nut is a tasty drink. Dried coconut called “copra” is used to make oil. The coconut husk, called coir, is used for making ropes. Leaves are used to make huts, fans and mats. Leaf midrib is used to make brooms. Palm sugar is made from young flower clusters. The dried trunk is used for making boats and furniture.

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