Friday, March 22, 2013

The Story of that Beautiful Thorny Tree

Oriya Legend:
The king of Judagarh had two wives whom he loved dearly. The only problem was that both his wives were unable to give him children. Childless and deeply depressed he sent out messages issuing a proclamation that whosoever cured his wives of their infertility shall be suitably rewarded with land and jewels galore. His proclamation reached Kaliya Dano who lived in the neighboring village . Dano meaning demon. Kaliya probably because he was dark in his complexion.
Kaliya Dano was a demon with a difference. Although he was a demon he was also considered as a holy man known to perform strict religious rituals. It was established that he could perform miracles too.There was another dark secret about Kaliya Dano which many didn't know. He ate humans.

When the news reached Kaiya Dano he sent word to the king that he can perform that miracle which shall cure the kings' wives of their infertility and therefore the wives should be sent to him.
The king was desperate for a child and did accordingly. Months passed and there was no news of his wives. Messages were sent and questions were asked but Kaliya Dano seemed to be in deep meditation and did not reply.
Finally the king, the Raja of Judagarh took his soldiers and proceeded to meet Kaliya Dano and his wives. Filled with anticipation he approached the village. When Kaliya Dano saw the King and his soldiers approach the village he fled to the forest. The reason being that he had already eaten and digested the two wives.
The king entered the hut only to find whatever was left.The rest of the remains of his beloved. A few bones and the jewels that belonged to his wives. He then realized his terrible mistake and deeply grieved but infuriated more with intense anger and hatred he proceeded towards the forest to hunt the demon down.
The demon had in his own desperation climbed a tall tree. And while he was climbing he had pulled out all his razor like sharp teeth and embedded them to the trunk of the tree so that no one could climb up after him. The king and his soldiers tried to climb but they were only wounded by what looked like thick treacherous thorns of the tree. The Raja could not succeed in his mission and the demon remained perched on that tree. Kaliya Dano sits there till date.

i am being reminded of the story and all the stories associated with the tree because now the roads of Delhi are littered with the beautiful but big and fleshy blossoms of the tree. The tree itself shorn of it's foliage and covered here and there everywhere with big 5 petaled cup like flowers which sometimes look rust, other times orange and rarely crimson red is quite a spectacle to watch. When you move close enough you can also see Kaliya Dano's teeth. Those thick thorns which might go deep into your skin, cause pain and blood if you are not careful enough.

My next series of posts shall feature some more stories i know of this beautiful tree which is also known in our mythological stories as Yamadruma. We commonly know the Shalmali (Sanskrit) and Semul (Hindi) as the silk cotton tree. Bombax ceiba.

Mythological legend:
It is said that Lord Brahma also known as Pitamaha rested under this tree after his creation of the world got over.Therefore the cup like flowers of this tree is considered to be sacred to Lord Shiva.
The tree when in full bloom is compared to the Goddess of wealth and good fortune Lakshmi. The fully blossoming tree is compared to Goddess Lakshmi standing with her outstretched arms holding an oil lit lamp on each palm.
Yamadruma in Sanskrit means Yama's tree. Yama is the God of Death. Yamadruma the ' Tree of the Infernal Regions'. Where sinners receive punishments. According to some legends the thorns of this tree is used for torture in one of the seven hells.
Now i am not accomplished enough to know how or why such a sad name is given to this inflamingly beautiful tree so i'd rather stick to Semul.

Some think that the flower which makes a great show is not so useful. Fragrance less and not at all edible. But they are wrong. The birds and the monkeys that peck at the flowers and thus help in the pollination process are finding something delectable there. Moreover if one is fond of Thai cuisine then there is this particular preparation called Kaeng khae curry which uses part of this flower in it's preparation.
The fruit too which happens later after the blooms are all shed give us the Silk Cotton. Even today for all special Hindu worships the silk cotton of this tree is used for the wick of the lamp because it is considered as the purest form of cotton.

i wish i could put up my own pictures. But because i am not skilled enough my pictures might only create dis illusions. Therfore i am gratefully borrowing those from:

Also borrow this from youtube:


  1. that's quite an engrossing story! reading such stories after a very long time. it was a great read!

  2. @ Debajyoti thank you i feel flattered when talented people like you say,"Great read". You are kind i must say.:)