Coconut tree in Hinduism; Why do we break coconut in temples? (Post No.11,914)



Post No. 11,914

Date uploaded in London – –  18 APRIL 2023                  

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Coconut is considered an auspicious symbol in Hinduism. They see it as goddess Lakshmi or Varuna. When placed on the top of a metal pot it is seen as Varuna, the god of rain.

The tradition runs that the coconut tree is the Kalpaka Vriksha meaning wish granting tree. Its stems supply beams for cottages or when scooped out it serves as a boat.  The leaves cover huts as roof, the coconut yields sweet water for a thirsty mouth. The coconut itself is used in many food items. Coconut oil and milk juice are also used for preparing delicious items . The shell of the coconut is used as fuel. The husks supply ropes for building huts. Coconut chutney is also used as side dish. No part of this tree goes waste.

In Ganapati Homam (havan) copra is the main offering. Ganesh favourite Modaka is made with coconut. South India is peninsular and so they get coconuts easily. So every temple use them for Puja/worship.

It is part of Poorana Kumbha (metal pot decorated with mango leaves and coconut. That is offered to elders, famous people visiting towns. It is part of purification ceremony. Water in such a metal pot is used as purification liquid after Varnua Japa recited from the Vedas.

It is sold in millions in temples and so it gives money to small farmers and vendors.

It is exchanged as auspicious symbols in Hindu Engagement (betrothal) ceremonies before wedding. Both the bride and bride groom families exchange turmeric smeared coconuts and keep them till the wedding is over. It is the witness for their marriage. The exchange takes place only after announcing the wedding of X with Y three times in front of a big audience of elders. All the father, grand father, would be father in law’s names are repeated three times to show who is the bride and bridegroom. Then only each side gives two turmeric coloured coconuts to the other side. It is followed by South Indian Brahmins even today.


In Maharashtra

It plays a main role in Gauri Puja and Ganesh Chaturthi.

Women desiring children secretly drop a coconut into some vessel in a Brahmin’s house. This is known as Avachita fal (Secret Fruit)

A woman throws two coconuts into a neighbour’s house  and begs for two in exchange saying “Kelte  gyaa raaangate dhyaa (Take a toy and give a child)

Another version is . एक खेळणी घ्या आणि मुलाला म्हण द्या Ēka khēḷaṇī ghyā āṇi mulālā mhaṇa dyā


Why do we break coconuts in temples?

In Tamil Nadu, people break coconuts by forcefully hitting it on a stone platform in the temple. It is done in all Ganesh (Pillaiyar in Tamil) temples. It is also done before a religious procession starts. There are some explanations given by religious speakers. If one looks at coconut one can see Three Eyes on top. These three represent the three bad qualities Kaama, Krodha and Lopa, which Lord Krishna described as Three Gates of Hell in the Bhagavad Gita. So these three Amorous desire, Anger and Greediness must be broken or thrown out to see God. That is the reason to forcefully throwing coconuts on the stone. It is called Sathir Thengaay in Tamil. Some vow to break 108 coconuts if their wishes are fulfilled. (We do it very often in Madurai Ganesh temple known as Nehru Aalaalasundara Vinaayakar temple)

Saiva siddhaantis name the three bad qualities as Aanava, Kanma, Maayaa malas.

Another explanation is that you have to remove the outer shell of hard and fibrous part to see the inner soft pure white coconut fruit with sweet water which means remove your bad desires to see God. Whatever the meaning is breaking coconuts gives a lot of money to small vendors and enough coconut to restaurants to make Chutney and Side dishes.

Naarali Poornima (Coconut Full moon Day)is celebrated in the month of Shraavan (Aavani in Tamil) in Hindu calendar. It corresponds with July/August in English calendar. In Maharashtra and along the western/ Konkan coast, great fairs are held on the sea shore. The ocean is worshipped, and coconuts are thrown into it as offerings, hence the name Naarali from Naaral- a coconut. In Sanskrit it is Naarikela. In botanical term it is coconut  nucifera.


Narali Poornima Festival Maharashtra

Narali Poornima or Coconut Festival is celebrated by the Hindus of fishing community of Maharashtra with a lot of fervour and on the full moon day or Poornima of the month of Shravan, which also happens to be one of the auspicious months of the Hindu calendar. The festival also goes by the name of Raksha Bandhan, Rakhi Poornima, and Shravani Poornima.

Naral means coconut and on the full moon day in the month of Shravan, coconut is offered to the sea and hence, the name.

The festival is celebrated to mark the end of the monsoon season, as the fishermen now can begin fishing safely and start-off with their trade. Apart from offering coconut to Varuna, the sea-God, people also worship the sea and offers prayers so that the God keeps them safe while they are out in the sea, fishing.

No fishing is done during this period and no fish is consumed as well. It’s only after Narali Poornima, after a coconut has been offered to the God at high tide that people can start fishing and consume fish. The traditional food of this festival is a sweet curry made from coconut.

Raksha Bandhan is also celebrated on the same day. Sisters tie rakhi on the wrist of their brothers that is also known as the thread of protection. Brahmins do Upakrama on that day to change their sacred thread and start the Vedic studies anew.


Poets on Coconut trees

Tamil poetess Avvaiyar and Bhartruhari in his Neetisataka praise the sacrifice of the coconut tree. They say ‘Look at that tree and its message. It sucks water from the ground, stand in scorching sun to give human beings sweet water’

Another poet in Neethi neri venba classified the entire humanity into three kinds.

First type of men is higher in the ladder. They are like palmyra trees. Even if you don’t water it, palmyra gives you fruits. Men with fine qualities don’t expect anything from you and yet they help you.

Next below in the ladder are middle class type. The coconut trees need periodical watering. Some people will help you only when you praise them sky high. Or they expect something from you as reciprocation.

The lowest type of people is like the betelnut tree or banana/ plantain trees. They need continuous watering and then only they give you their yields. Lowest people always expect something from you and then only come forward to help you.

These are the messages or lessons from the trees according to Bhartruhari and Tamil poets.



INTERESTING STORY ABOUT COCONUT! (Post No.6500) › interesti…

6 Jun 2019 — A blog exploring themes in Tamil and vedic literature. INTERESTING STORY ABOUT COCONUT! (Post No.6500). Written by London swaminathan.

coconut tree › tag › c…

6 Jun 2019 — A blog exploring themes in Tamil and vedic literature. Tagged with coconut tree. INTERESTING STORY ABOUT COCONUT! (Post No.6500).

Tags- Coconut, breaking, types of men, Naral festival, Purana kumbha, trees, auspicious,

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