A letter to the Vanni tree

           Vanni tree is more than 3000 years old and can be seen at the famous Thrimurthi temple in Kodumudi, Tamil Nadu.

Dear Vanni tree,

From the era of the Cholas
to this era with smartphones,
you must have met millions of people,
talking, cribbing and ranting under your shade.
You must have heard billions of things.
And since you live inside the temple,
You must have heard them pray.

What is it like to hear us pray?

When a politician promises a golden chariot to the temple God if he wins this election,
When the king prays to bless his pregnant wife only with a son,
When the businessman prays that the journalist should give into his demands,
When a mother prays that her queer son will marry the girl she chooses,
When a common man prays that the immigrants stay behind a wall,
When a sexually experienced man prays for his future wife to be a virgin.
What is it like?

How do you feel when you hear us pray?

Do you chuckle when we keep asking for more?
Do you feel like laughing at our ‘intolerance’?
Do you feel happy when some of us say ‘Thank you’?
Do you get angry when we pray for more water on our side of the border?
Do you smirk when we think we can confess crimes to God and holy river and get away?
Do you feel sad that we don’t care or pray enough to save trees like you?
Do you sigh with relief when we pray for peace?
How do you feel?

Vanni tree, it has been 3000 years
and you have been really strong.
How are you so patient
in listening to some of our ‘wants’
disguised as prayers?
I wonder.
If only you could speak and remind us how shallow we are.
For You know that our prayers have not changed in all these years.
For You know that it does it not matter
to which God we pray, how we pray.
For Only You know that our prayers
are All one and the same.
We humans, always want more.
If only you could speak.

There is a description below the tree written in Tamil and I’ve attempted to translate it:
More than 3000 years ago, in this same Kodumudi temple which is one of the powerful sthalam of the Thrimurthi (holy trinity) Shiva, Brahma, Vishnu, also resides this unique Vanni tree. For a long time, the Vanni tree bore no fruits or flowers and thus was not bale to reproduce; it was dying.
In 2004, scientists at the Tamil Nadu Agriculture Research department created little baby plants of this Vanni tree using the main tree’s tissues with genetic plant technology and planted them in the Prakaram of this temple.
This was headed by Dr. R. Kannan, the Tamil Nadu state Agriculture Production Commissioner, Additional Chief Secretary for tourism, culture and Hindu religious and charitable endowment.
The Soil Research Centre at Kanchipuram tests and maintains the soil in suitable condition to protect the main Vanni tree. This test was first led by Mr. R. Balasubramaniam, Assistant Research Officer, Soil Research Lab, Kanchipuram.
Tamil enthusiast who helped me with the translation: Bharatram Muthaiah



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