Temple Flora

There are Hindu Temples found in every city here with an astonishing amount of flora associated with them. At the temple gates I've seen banana trees with fruit tied to each side with palm and mango leaves strung across. Close by there is usually a handful of stalls that make available to the temple visitors, puja or devotional gifts or offerings to the gods. Each stall is stacked with trays of Betel nut leaves, Kaffir Limes, buckets of Lotus buds and a mass of garlands. Inside, the vendors ply their craft as garland makers expertly tying Jasmine buds, Chrysanthemums and Orchids into colorful scented garlands almost trance like, their hands in constant rhythmic motion.

The garlands are not restricted to just flowers, there are also garlands of leaves and grass. Each deity is said to have their favorite flora, Lotuses for Lakshmi, Durva or sacred grass for Lord Ganesha. There a rules too, for example, the Durva must be plucked while chanting continously and then cannot be brought home in your left hand or on your head. Each flower, fruit and leaf has its own significance and association, Jasmine for weddings, Neem leaves for the new Year. The simple philosophy that binds all this, that plants and flowers are celestial, pervades the oldest of the world's religions- although not strictly a religion. Along with the other tenet of Ahimsa or non violence there is something about this reverence for nature that seems powerfully relevant today.

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