The Peepal Grove


 Update for fortnight ended 29 March 2013

Lajvanti was a pretty girl, the only daughter to the rich merchant, Kalachand Thakur. She was born to the Thakurs after many years and was pampered by the family and all the servants who worked at the Thakur haveli (household). She was so pretty that even the King felt that his son, the Prince should wed her when she came of age. Lajvanti knew that she would be queen and that made her a little more brash and arrogant. And just before her wedding, her friends decided to go for a Girls’ Picnic in the woods nearby. They packed some food and water for the way and then once in the woods, they went looking for flowers and berries. They chased little squirrels and rabbits and had lots of fun. And when they were tired, they decided to settle down for some food and rest in the shady peepal grove. Though the leaves had fallen off from the previous season, the large network of branches and the thick trunk gave enough support and shade from the afternoon sun. But Lajvanti, who would be queen, was aghast at the suggestion. She wondered how someone who would be regal soon, could be seen sitting like a beggar under a peepal tree and she snubbed her friends and instead asked her friends to pitch a tent on the grassland area that abutted the peepal grove. The peepal trees that were about to sprout out fresh leaves were upset at Lajvanti’s behavior. And when the girls had feasted, they felt sleepy and went off to sleep. When they awoke, they were surprised to see a strong wind blowing and the tent could not hold itself. It threatened to rain as dark clouds gathered and the girls shuddered with fear. Lajvanti was the most scared of the lot. She had never seen nor experienced anything of this sort in the open. And when the first drops of the rain started falling down, they scampered about looking for shelter. On the open field there was no place they could go to seek shelter. That was when Lajvanti saw the peepal grove, and urged her friends to rush towards it for shelter. The girls dashed to the grove, but were surprised to see that the tree now had leaves, not the usual waxy green ones, but wafer thin pink ones. The rain came down in sheets and the tree was not able to protect the girls and Lajvanti and her friends got soaked to their skins. They sheepishly walked back home after the downpour subsided and on reaching home cried her heart out. Her mother was worried and so was Kalachand. They tried to appease her with jewellery, and sweetmeats and even the temple dancer was summoned for a performance, but Lajvanti would not stop crying. The King got to hear of this and sent his guards to enquire what the matter was with the going-to-be-princess queen. And then Lajvanti told them and her father about the peepal trees’ rudeness and inability to protect the young helpless girls in the deluge. She ordered that the grove be hacked and all the peepal trees be uprooted. Now Kalachand was a sensible man, and he knew that these gigantic trees often gave shelter to weary travellers due to its network of branches and the lush foliage. He was doubtful of Lajvanti’s story, but how could he doubt his daughter? So he shook his head and agreed to her wish and set off for the forest with the soldiers. He was surprised to be greeted by a lush green peepal grove with the trademark large green heart shaped leaves with pointy tops that glistened in the sun. Now he was in a quandary, how could he cut down such a large tree which gave so much shade not only to travelers, but also the squirrels and birds; and how was it possible for the tree to have had pink leaves on the day before?

 

The Boyz at D Street were preparing for the spring festival – Holi, and had started playing with colours on the way to work. And with their palms coated with red and pink dye, it was obvious that anything they touched would be tinged in that colour. So their favourite Sensex was tinged in different shades of red for a long time. And the sun was beating down hard on D Street as many trees shed their leaves during this season. The Boyz anxiously awaited the green shoots and the return of shady green leaves on their street. And they were surprised to see that the fresh shoots and leaves on the peepal trees on D Street were also tinged with the pink that they sprayed on each other for Holi. They blinked a couple of times to wish away the nightmare, and then, they saw what they wanted to see after all. The pink leaves started turning a pale green, and the foliage returned onto the barren boughs of the peepal on their street. So after carnage that dyed the SENSEX red and took it tumbling from 19300 to 18700, it finally turned green at the end of the week to 18835.

Kalachand knew that his daughter would want to see proof of the tree being uprooted, and so he prayed to the tree to help in this predicament. At that moment, the tree rose out of the earth exposing its vast roots and asked Kalachand to cut off one that he could take home to show his daughter. Kalachand thanked the tree profusely and took a root with him to show his daughter that he had fulfilled her wish. Lajvanti turned cheerful once again. And Kalachand decided to honour the root by planting it the temple yard. It soon sprouted a shoot and grew to be a large tree that gave shelter to the birds and squirrels and ants and insects as well as weary pilgrims. And even to this day people bow to the tree and pay homage.

 

I was wondering if you noticed the pink blossoms of the peepal trees this year – yes the trees did indeed turn pink with fresh leaves which eventually turned a pale green. If you did not notice, try and catch up with them soon before they get back to their greens!

 

Have a nice week ahead….  

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