Saturday, 2 February 2013

The parijata outside my window



JUST beyond the low window of my room is a parijata tree.it has been there for a over a quarter century.it is a tough tree;it has to be.Nobody bothers to water to it.in bombay where water is scarce and tax on it,when available ,is high,few people can afford to water their plants.trees wilt and seems to be dying in the scorching heat of may and june.but plant life is obstinate.Now,with the rainfall for the season already exceeding 220 centimeters,they have brightened ,and put on rich ,lovely,green foilage.The parijata has to be tough for another reason too.Its tiny white flower with its pink stem is favoured of the gods.it is high on the list of flowers usable in the hindu worship.The commonest way of picking the parijata is for people to violently shake the tree and let the flowers fall down.it is an ancient and therefore venerated habit.A parijata tree in full bloom is a pleasing sight.The flower has also a gentle,pervasive fragrance.it would ,therefore,seem unreasonable to hate the tree.but i do hate the one in my compound .I feel it has reduced my life span by a good many years .The reason for this is the habit i have mentioned ,of people coming and shaking it,and so disturbing my sleep.flower stealing is a comman habit .All flowers are fair game,but those permissible in worship ,more so.There seems to be an idea that everybody is free to go to any compound and pick flowers.


 Though i have called it stealing the people who pick flowers donot seem to be conscious of guilt.They don"t come quietly and surreptitiously,look before and after ,take their picking and run.They come in groups;they talk,argue and sometimes intone devotional verses.This and the process  of shaking the paarijata  tree goes on from early dawn till late morning till,in fact ,the tree can be seen to be denuded of all flowers.And it goes on till the end of winter.The fact that their action causes rouble to others does not seem to appeal to them.Though touched with religious sentiment, because the flowers are picked for worship,this predatory habit of raiding trees in anybody`s compound is utterly destructive.

  I remember some yeara ago,in britain, a woman who had plucked a daffodil from a park was not only fined five pounds,but held in custody for a night.it was mentioned in parliament because of heavy punishment.The home secretary justified deterrent action as many flowers had been picked from that garden.


 We have not reached a stage where ruthless,steps are practicable.But it is well to remember that all appeals to grow more trees are futile as long as prevailing public attitudes are not corrected. That calls for a long and persistent,if tedious,processof public education.  
                    

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