Cocos nucifera Linn.
Common Name: Coconut tree, Nariyal (Hindi), Thennai (Tamil), Narikela (Sanskrit)
Distribution: Coastal tracts of India
In Religion and Mythology
A ‘Purnakumbha’ is a pitcher (Kalasam) filled with water
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).