Worship of Trees in Hinduism

In Sanskrit, the word for tree is vriksha. Indian scripture mentions specific ones, such as the Kalpa vriksha and the Chaitya vriksha.

The tree has always been associated with wisdom and immortality. Hindu scripture describes a celestial tree having its roots in heaven and its branches in the underworld that unites and connects beings of all kinds.

The spirits that inhabit trees are the yakshas, feminine deities; male figures never appear in such a connection. Veneration of the tree is a form of Shaktism, the cult of the Great Mother.

Some of the important trees and plants are described below.

The Ashoka Tree is one of the most sacred and legendary trees of India, and one of the most fascinating flowers in the Indian range of flower essences.

In India, Bael tree is considered to be very sacred because it is associated with Lord Shiva. It is said that Lord Shiva is pleased by offerings of leaves from the Bael Tree, also known as bilva or bel tree.

The banyan or barh tree (Ficus bengalensis) is the national tree of India. It represents the "Trimurti" or trio of gods, Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva and Lord Brahma. Lord Dakshinamurthy, the ultimate source of wisdom, sits under a banyan tree.
The banyan is prominent in the grounds of old temples. A yaksha is propriated with offerings such as food, bits of cloth tied to the branches and red-smeared stones put at the base of the tree.

Though banana is not a tree but it is considered a tree because of its structure and size. It is a very sacred tree and all parts of the tree are used for some purpose or the other.

In Hinduism, the kadam or kadamb (Neolamarckia cadamba) is the favorite tree of Lord Krishna, and of the mother goddess (called Durga, Parvati, Radha Krishna), who lived in a kadam forest
To all Hindus, the Bhang Tree is a very Holy Tree. There are many beliefs associated with the Bhang Tree. It is believed that a guardian lives in the Bhang leaf. To see in a dream the plant or water or leaves of Bhang is considered lucky as it brings wealth and prosperity into the dreamer's power.

In Sanskrit, the name for the coconut palm "Kalpa vriksha", which means "the tree which provides all the necessities of life" or "wish-fulfilling tree". The coconut tree is given a special place in most Hindu households and great care is taken to nature the tree.

The mango tree is another sacred tree of the Hindus. The significance of this finds mention in the Ramayana, Mahabharata and the Puranas. The mango as a fruit is a symbol of love and fertility. The leaf of the tree is used during most religious and social ceremonies of the Hindus. A "Purnakumbha" is a pot filled with water and topped with fresh mango leaves and a coconut and considered to be the "staphna" of the puja.

The neem tree besides having various medicinal benefits is a highly revered tree among the Hindus because it is a manifestation of "Goddess Durga" or "Maa Kali". That is why the tree is sometimes referred to as Neemari Devi.. In Bengal, neem is considered to be the tree which is the abode of "Sitala" (the great Pox-mother who can cause or cure disease).

In South India, there are a number of tree shrines. Notable ones include the mango (ekamra) tree at Kanchi, a black plum (jambu) at Jumbukeswaram near Tiruchirappalli, the Indian plum (panai) at Tirupanaiyur and the "blinding' tree (tillai) at Chidambaram. Shrubs, too, can be considered sacred: the jasmine (mullai) at Tirumullaivayil and a gooseberry (nelli) at Tirunellikka.

In Puri, state of Orissa, the original image of Jagannath was found at the foot of a fig tree, in the form of an Indranila or Blue Jewel. Its blinding brightness, had prompted the deity, Dharma, to request it be hidden in the earth.

Women have been known occasionally to marry trees, either to avert an astrologically bad match, or to retain certain liberties that maidens do not have, or to avoid the consequences of eventual widowhood. Bel marriage is a way of avoiding the social sanctions that are imposed in traditional Hindu society whenever a woman's husband dies. In this way, she can also be free to leave her (human) mate, or to divorce him, and then she can also remarry as she chooses.