Bremji Kul, Kashmir’s Sacred Tree

New Delhi [India]: Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “the creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.” A few hundred years ago, the Kashmir Valley was a gathering place for spiritual activities, a holy place that attracted dozens of men and women and encouraged them to live a life closer to God. As if out of reverence or silent submission to God’s men, a tree known as Bremji Kul has grown along the cemeteries and tombs of Sufi saints.

As the number of Kul trees increased throughout the valley, so too did they yearn to know God and his purpose for their lives. They are not grown for commercial purposes. Saints and peers meditated under this tree. As it grows, it takes the form of an umbrella that spreads its wings over the graves to create a dome-shaped sacred aura. It replaces the negativity and restlessness in the mind of the person sitting below with calm, positive vibrations to support their Tapasya, and ultimately Moksha. Bremji Kul (Celtis Australis) species belong to the Western Himalayas. It is a reliable plant for fodder, fuel, timber and agriculture. It provides palatable, nutrient-rich, tannin-free fodder for livestock. Naturally, it is found growing in wet conditions, such as along narrow streams, rivers, hedges, shores and sand. Their deep and spreading roots are drought resistant and great for holding soil in a flood-prone place like Kashmir.

Being a fast-growing woody perennial plant that can grow up to 25 meters in height, the tree has smooth bark and a rounded canopy that dies off for a while in the autumn. Its flowers remain hidden and its fruits are small and round, hanging in purple clusters that attract birds and small creatures to feast on.

Usually, the tree is bred for fodder, timber, and medicinal value. Its wood quality is the best for making tools and handles for whips, sticks, cups, spoons, sports equipment, canoes and oars, construction materials, automobiles and agricultural products. It is an excellent firewood, and a source of pulp and paper.

‘Celtis Australis’ is well known in hilly areas for its medicinal value. The fruit relieves amenorrhea, abdominal pain and heavy menstrual bleeding. The bark is made into a paste and is ideal for applying to bones, boils, bruises, sprains and joint pain. It is an excellent astringent used to treat diarrhoea, dysentery, and peptic ulcers. Its sweet fruit can be eaten raw or cooked and its seed oil is used medicinally.

Since Bremji Kul reduces summer heat, it is believed that it will provide graves with a cool environment. Maulana Noor ud Din, a Sufi scholar, said planting trees is a Sunnah. Missionaries to Kashmir in the 14th century AD spread this message and naturally, this local tree became a defining feature of Kashmir.

Bremji Kul lives up to a thousand years old, but unfortunately, it disappeared from the landscape of Kashmir.

Recently, a large tree planting campaign for Chinar (the tree that is synonymous with the landscape and culture of Kashmir) took place in Budgam, Pulwama and Srinagar districts on Chinar Day (March 15). The government has planted more than 5,000 Chinar trees and is creating a digital tree archive to ensure the preservation and tracking of individual growth. The Fruit Growers Association, Progressive Orchardists and farmers are interacting with government agencies to achieve this goal.

Next on the list of authorities is the preservation and propagation of Bremji Kul. Under the banner ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’ and the program ‘Har Gaon Haryali’ scheme, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha strongly promotes the reconstruction of Kashmir as it was in its most pristine times, heavenly and peaceful. In recent years, political turmoil in Kashmir has turned this sanctuary into a casualty. But with the new air of developments in the Valley and protection of the Center from transboundary threats, Bremji Kul will be reborn, harmoniously in the Naya Kashmir. (ANI)

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