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Dussehra and Significance of Shami tree to protect environment

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Dussehra also tells us to protect trees and environment:

Significance of Shami / Jammi Tree (Prosopis cineraria): to protect land from desertification. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prosopis_cineraria )

shami shamayatE paapaM shamI shatruvinaashin(i |
arjunasya dhanurdhaari raamasya priyavaadini |

Meaning: Shamee Tree destroys our paapaa, it destroys our enemies. It was holding the Dhanas of Arjuna for one full year and it is Sri Ramachandra’s favourite tree.

Pandavaas after being cheated by kauravaas, and having finished their 12 years “vanavaasa” (stay at forest), had to observe Ajnathavasa, (i.e., to stay in a well known place, but their identity not to be traced by any). So, in order to stay in Viratanagar, they kept all their weapons in a Shamee tree. When they returned from Ajnathavasa, the weapons were safe there, so, to express their gratitute, they started worshipping Shamee tree. The same custom is being practiced even today.

Shamee is helpful for pregnant woman to prevent miscarriage. Shamee is useful for treatment of astama, bronchitis, desentery, locoderma and piles.

There is a custom on Vijayadashami Day to do the pooja for Shamee Tree. People also exchange shamee leaves among other friends and elders with the shloka ”Shamee shamayate paapam………………..”. In Mysore on the Dasara procession day, i.e., on Vijayadashami day, the Procession starts from palace grounds and ends at Bannimantap, Mysore, wherein we can find Banni trees, and which Mysore kings used to worship.

Why Shamee leaves are exchanged among brahmins -

People distribute leaves of Shamee tree on Dussehra and Vijayadasami day. In this ritual, Shamee tree leaves symbolically represents gold or sona. People present shamee tree leaves to friends, relatives and neighbours and wish happy Dasara. There is an interesting story on why shamee tree leaves are presented on Dussera.

There is a story about Guru Dakshine & shamee Tree-
An young brahmin named Kautsa in Ayodhya, during Tretayuga, once after completing education from Guru asked his Guru to accept a Guru Daskhina – a present offered by students to Guru named Varatantu, after completing their studies.

Guru Sri Varatantu at first said he did not want any Dakshina. But young Kautsa insisted that he should take a Dakshina. Guru Varatantu to get rid of Kautsa asked him for 14 crore (140 million) gold coins. One hundred million for each subject taught.

The student then went to Sri Ramachandra devaru, who was ruling Ayodhya and asked for the gold coins needed to pay his Guru Dakshina. Sri Ramachandra promised to help Kautsa and asked him to wait near the Shamee (Shamee Tree is favourite for Ramachandra). In three days time, Sri Ramachandra with the help of Lord Kuber, the God wealth, showered gold coins from the leaves of Shamee Tree. The leaves of the trees became gold coins.

Kautsa collected the coins and gave 140 million gold coins to Guru Sri Varatantu. The rest of coins were distributed to the needy by Kautsa. This happened on a Dussehra day. To commemorate this event even today people collect leaves of Shamee tree and present it as gold.
................Shami Puja on Vijaya Dashami.........................
Shastra Puja & Shami Pooja on Aaswin shudha Navami.
Shami Puja on Vijaya Dashami.

Shami Pujan and Ashmantak tree should also be worshipped on Vijayadashmi. There is a story related to this Pujan, according to which Devi Parvati asks Lord Shiva about the significance of Shami Tree on which lord Shiva says that Arjun hid his weapons in the hole of a Shami Tree during his time of exile and started living as a Vrihanna in the kingdom of King Virat.
Later on with the help of king's Son, Arjun collected his weapons from the tree and got victory over his enemies. This way Shami tree protected Arjun's weapons. Other than this, when Lord Rama was marching towards the Lanka, Shami tree told him that he will get victory. This is the reason that Shami tree is worshipped on the day of Vijayadashmi. If one is unable to find Shami tree, then Ashmantak tree can also be worshipped.
People exchange the leaves of the Shami tree among friends and relatives as gold. Aparijita and Vishnu Kranta plant is also worshipped on this day. This plant brings victory and is dear to lord Vishnu. Along with paying for victory people also pray for joy and prosperity.
Shastra Puja
By worshipping the weapons on this day people call for the power of god. They clean their weapons that are used in daily lives, arrange them in a row and worship them. This is an important festival of Kshatriya and they worship Devi Aparajita on this day. People achieve happiness in all spheres of life by worshipping on this day.