The day of the Kalpavriksha
When It got down to writing this “Toonlogs” on a different topic, my memory took back to 50 years and my travelling to “Konaseema”. The drive on the launch (steamboat) crossing the Godavari and landing in Konaseema and the road journey, surrounded by many coconut trees and the consuming that sweet coconut water. The joy of watching the coconut trees and the taste of the coconut water etched in the memory.
Konaseema is a group of islands between the tributaries of the Godavari River in the East Godavari District of Andhra Pradesh and nicknamed “God’s Own Creation” bringing parallels to Kerala.
Coconut tree rightly referred to as “Kalpavriksha”, perhaps one of the most useful trees, with each part of it finding application. It is also referred to as “Tree of thousand uses”, “Tree of life”.
World Coconut Day is observed on 2 September and was started in 2009 by the Asian and Pacific Coconut Community (APCC). The day is celebrated to commemorate the formation day of APCC, which functions under the aegis of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN-ESCAP). India also celebrates National Coconut Day on 26 June.
The name coconut is derived from the Portuguese and Spanish word coco, meaning ‘head’ or ‘skull’ (the three indentations on the coconut shell resembling facial features). It is believed that “Marco Polo” encountered the coconut on his travels to Sumatra and refers to it in his writing as “nux indica,” or “Indian nut”. In the Pacific, coconuts were first cultivated on islands in Southeast Asia (Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia). In the Indian Ocean, it is the southern periphery of India, including Sri Lanka, the Maldives and the Laccadives.
Wikipedia has an exhaustive article on the coconut tree.
Coconut belongs to “Arecaceae”, the palm tree family. Tropical climates suit its growth as it requires moist, sandy, well-drained soil and flourishes in the saline-rich coastal regions. IT can grow to more than 100 feet in height and has a life span of about 75 to 100 years. It is an indispensable food item for the people of South and South-East Asia and the Pacific islands. It is the national tree for the Maldives.
Coconut oil finds applications in a variety of ways, be it supporting a weight loss, moisturizing skin and hair. Coconut is rich in fibre, Vitamin B6, iron, and minerals like magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, and zinc.
In recent years, Indonesia has edged Philippines in becoming the world’s second-largest producer of coconuts. Interestingly in India, the southern states combined account for almost 90% of the total production in the country.
The coconut has cultural and religious significance in certain societies, particularly in India, where it is used in Hindu rituals.
In recent years there was a controversy in some researchers reporting that consuming coconut oil is not suitable for health. People, living in coastal areas and using coconut oil for generations vouch for its beneficial effects.
Recall ubiquitous scene, people after their morning walk, make a stopover at the street vendor selling coconuts and picking up the tender coconut and more importantly asking the vendor to give the delicate, thin layer of coconut. No wonder coconut water has become one of the favourite drinks all over the world.
Let us celebrate the day of Kalpavriksha.