Bel Patra – Shiva’s Plant
Bael is an indigenous fruit tree of India. The deciduous tree with trifoliate aromatic leaves is traditionally used as a sacred offering by Hindus in India to Lord Shiva. It is commonly planted in temple gardens. Bael grows wild and semi-wild in the North India states of Uttar Pradesh, Orissa, Bihar, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh. There is no systematic or regular plantation of ball except in Uttar Pradesh.
Bel Patra In Hindi
- English name – Applewood, Bengal quince.
- Hindi name – Bael, bel patra, Vili, Sriphal
- Sanskrit name – Bilva, Sriphal, Pootivat, Shaelpatra, Lakshmiputra, Shiveshta
- Gujarati name – Bael, Beelee
- Marathi name – Bael
- Punjabi name – Bael
Benefits of Bel Patra –
- different parts of the Bael plant are used for different health conditions. Special emphasis has been given to the ripened fruits which are not considered as healthy and if consumed, may lead to unnecessary bloating and indigestion.
- Researchers are on to explore more on the hypoglycemic action of this plant and leaves have anti-diabetic properties. It helps to control diabetic polyuria. It helps pancreas to produce more amount of insulin, which helps to control diabetes.
- In Ayurveda, there is a very popular group of herbs known by the term “Dashamoola”. These ten herbs are considered as the best anti – inflammatory and pain relieving herbs of all times. Bilva is one of the ten herbs mentioned in this group. Therefore, it can be widely used in a variety of pain producing conditions in the body.
- Problems of the female reproductive system like Leucorrhea, menstrual irregularities, vaginal hemorrhages etc. are also relieved with the use of Bilva along with other herbs.
- It also balances pitta related disorders in the body, effective in managing ulcers and infections.
- The ripe fruit has laxative properties and it also helps to treat constipation. Unripe fruit is also very effective in treating dysentery, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal disorders.
BEL PATRA FOR LORD SHIVA WHY? HERE IS THE REASON
Bilva is a very auspicious tree which is mentioned in Atharvaveda, Iatareya Brahman and Shatapatha Brahman.
It is believed that the Bilva tree was created by Lord Brahma. However, the tree originated from the right hand of Lakshmi due to her long penance.
There is a legend which talks about the origin of this tree. Lakshmi used to offer 1000 lotuses to Lord Shiva on every puja.
STORY BEHIND IT –
Once, two lotuses went missing from those thousand ones. At the time of worship when Lakshmi became extremely worried, Lord Vishnu said that Lakshmi’s two breasts are as pious and auspicious as lotus and that she can offer those to Shiva. Then she cut off her breasts and offered them to Shiva. Shiva was pleased by her devotion and blessed her that, now onward her breasts will be there on the Bilva tree as fruits.
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The triangular leaves or 3 leaflets of the Bilva tree are offered to Shiva as they are very dear to him. Bilva tree is considered as the form of Shiva. It is also said that the worship of Shiva which is done without offering Bilva leaf is fruitless.
HOW TO GROW BEL PATRA
Climate and soil
Though bael is a fruit crop of subtropical origin, it has got a wider adaptability and can perform equally well in tropical, arid and semi-arid regions. Fairly rich and well drained sandy loam soils with the sunny situation, warm humid climate are ideal for its cultivation. However, owing to its hardy nature it can be grown in the wide range of soil viz., sandy, clay, stone, acidic, alkaline, salt affected soils and wastelands etc.
Some improved varieties developed by the agricultural universities and ICAR institutions are given below and these below mentioned institutes can be approached for further information on bael cultivation.
|G.B. Pant university of Agriculture and Technology, Pantnagar, Uttarakhand||Pant Aparna, Pant Shivani, Pant Sujata, Pant Urvashi|
|NarendraDevUniversity of Agriculture and Technology, Faizabad, Uttar Pradesh||Narendra Bael-5, Narendra Bael-7, Narendra Bael-9|
|Central Institute of Subtropical Horticulture, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh.||CISH B-1, CISH B-2|
|Central Horticultural Experiment Station, Godhra, Gujarat.||Goma Yashi|
Seedlings raised from seeds are not considered suitable planting material because of late bearing and not being true to the types which show great variation in form, size, edible quality and number of seeds. For commercial orcharding, farmers are advised to use planting material produced by vegetative propagation methods viz., patch budding and soft- wood grafting. Seedlings can be used as rootstock for producing true to the type planting material.
Rainy season is the best time for planting. However, planting can also be done in spring season if irrigation facilities are available. Dig the planting pits of 1m x 1m x1m size at least one month prior to the onset of monsoon. Keep the planting pits open for 20-25 days thereafter; fill each pot with a mixture of top soil and 10-15 kg of FYM. This may be followed by irrigation to settle down the soil in pits. If depression takes place due to irrigation, add pit filling mixture to the pit. Plant the bael sapling at the center of the pit and provide support to the plant. Make a basin around it and irrigate gently. Do mulching with dry leaves to conserve moisture.
Training and pruning
Training and pruning are done during early years of the plant to develop a good and strong framework of scaffold branches. Cut the main stem at a height of 0.9-1.0 m. Heading back results in the formation of new shoots below the cut point. Retain 3-4 well spaced and well oriented new shoots (primary branches). Do keep the tree trunk clean i.e. without side shoots up to 60-75 cm. This is required for carrying out intercultural operations smoothly. The primary branches become mature in 6-7 months. After attaining the maturity prune these primary branches to their 50% length. This induces new shoot growth on primary branches. Retain only 2-3 secondary branches per primary.
In bearing trees pruning is generally not advisable as this fruit crop bears fruits on one-year-old shoots. Pruning is restricted to central opening and removal of weak, dead, diseased, dried, criss-cross and broken branches after fruit harvesting and before the commencement of new flush. Remove suckers from the rootstock time to time.
The plant produces a number of fruits hence the application of manures and fertilizers is beneficial. Apply 10kg farm yard manure, 50g N, 25g P and 50g K per plant to one-year-old plants. This dose should be increased every year in the same proportion up to the age of 10 years, after which the fixed dose should be applied each year. Half dose of N, a full dose of P and half dose of K should be given after harvesting the fruits. The remaining half dose of N and K should be given in the last week of August. Fertilizer application must be followed by the irrigation immediately.
Young plants need to be watered regularly in summer and one-month interval in winter for their rapid vegetative growth and establishment. In bearing trees irrigation is not required in dry summer, as it sheds leaves and resists hot dry summers. Irrigation can be applied at the time of new leaf emergence.
Bael being a hardy crop, there is no serious insect pest and diseases as of now. But sooty mold has been noticed in commercial bael orchards which can be managed by spraying wettable sulphur+chlorpyriphos/methyl parathion+ gum acacia (0.2+0.1+0.3%). During new leaf emergence, leaf eating caterpillar is causing a serious problem and it can be managed by application of Thiodan @ 0.1%. Fruit cracking and fruit drop are two important physiological disorders found in bael. These can be managed by providing good irrigation facility, making windbreaks around the orchard and by spraying borax @ 0.1% twice at full bloom and after fruit set.
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