Hindu pujas are never complete without the offerings of fresh flowers and fruits, and prasad made for Gods and Godesses. Amongst the marigold, rose, and white lilies what also finds a place of pride is a Bilva leaf or Bel Patra. But the leaf isn't just one accompaniment to the flowers. Offering of bel patta has a much deeper significance in Hindu puja rituals, as per Puranas and Vedas. Bel patra is a leaf of Bel / bilva tree(Aegle marmelos). It is widely used in worship of Hindu dieties, especially Shiva. Replete with several medicinal properties –Both bel fruit or bel leaves have been spoken about in great length in ancient Hindu scriptures. If you see the leaf, you would see that this leaf is trifoliate which in Hindu belief signifies the holy Trinity: Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.The scriptures also state, that the leaf, represents the three eyes of Lord Shiva. As such Lord Shiva the pagan Lord, was very fond of Bilva leaves. It is said that the one who offers a trifoliate bel patra to the Shivlinga with devotion, Lord Shiva blesses him/her with whatever he/she desires. Also when people offer the leaves to the God, they also take a part of it back with them, they do so because the leaf is said to be able to absorb Shiva's energy. Hence the leaf becomes medium to go a step closer to Lord Shiva.
Why the Bel leaf?
According to ancient scriptures like Skandapurana, Bel tree grew out of the sweat droplets of Goddess Parvati, which fell on the Mandrachal mountain. It is said that she resides in these trees in all her forms; in the leaves, flowers, fruit and roots. Due to this reason Lord Shiva is extremely fond of the bilwa tree and its leaves.
According to Ayurveda too, bel leaf is packed with many medicinal and healing properties. The leaves are antibacterial, anti fungal in nature. The trifoliate shape signifies the three components or 'gunas', namely the Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. And the center portion of the leaf is concentrated with the perfect balance of the three.
So the next time you see the bel leaf in Puja offerings, you know it is there for a specific reason.
About Sushmita SenguptaSharing a strong penchant for food, Sushmita loves all things good, cheesy and greasy. Her other favourite pastime activities other than discussing food includes, reading, watching movies and binge-watching TV shows.