Friday, December 24, 2010


tree worshipping had been in practice in ancient societies all over the world. ancient greeks, romans, egyptians, indians and chinese were some of the early people who regarded certain trees as sacred.

to the hindus, trees, like the coconut and banana, which have many uses are well regarded. the mango tree is also sacred to the indians. the peepal, sometimes spelt pipal, is revered by both the buddhists and the hindus. both indians and chinese also regard the banyan tree as a holy tree. in singapore, it is not unusual to see a huge yellow or orange cloth wrapped around the trunk of a mature banyan tree or bodhi tree.

some european trees that attained the sacred status included the oak tree, the cypress tree and the fig tree.

about three years ago, in september 2007, a tree, an african mahogany, in jurong west attracted a lot of attention. in fact, the 'magic monkey tree' was reported in the local papers as well as in some international papers. it arose from the discovery of a callus on a tree which appeared monkey-like. it drew large crowds to pray at the tree.

the belief that certain spirits inhabit trees is not new. when i was young, i dared not go near banana trees at night. this was because of the many stories i had heard related to the banana tree. some people even claimed to have seen the 'pontianak' that resided in these trees. according to these 'brave' people, to see the 'pontianak' you needed to tie a red string to the tree and, at midnight, the 'pontianak' would appear to you.

from what i have seen during my walks, any large or odd-shaped tree can be a subject of worship. i have seen taoist altars and idols of different deities left at the base of mature trees. i sometimes wonder why people who abandon their religion or religious beliefs choose to leave these objects at the such places.

in the past, in some societies, you could be punished for cutting down trees, especially large trees. come to think of it, today, in singapore, you can also be punished with a fine if you fell a tree - within the tree conservation areas - with a girth of more than one metre when measured 50cm from the ground. permission has to be sought from the national parks board even if the tree is in the compound of your house.

is this because of reverence for large trees?


peter said...

any idea how they pick a tree to b a sacred place yg?

yg said...

peter, usually any large banyan or bodhi tree or a tree with lots of calluses, like the one in pictures above.

Deadeyes said...

Hi There! Do you think this tree is still there?