Volume 2 Issue 40 | August 30 , 2008 |


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Journey through Bangladesh

From Comilla

The Mohua Tree Stands Through Time

IT would be impossible to live without trees. Humans are indebted to trees for their survival. Sir Jagadish Bose had the theory that plants have feelings too. The shade of a big tree gives a person shelter as well as a cool place to rest. Comilla's century-old mohua tree still proudly stands tall, still giving so much to the people of the region.

Right before winter, walking down the main road of Badurtala and Jhautala in Comilla city, there is a smell of polao in the air. Some people think it's probably because some wedding or function is going on nearby. At least that's what people who are new here think. But this is really the wonderful scent of the mohua flowers that this city is blessed with. The tree has been standing there for ages. Some estimate this tree to be over 200 years old. Everyone in the area said they have seen the tree there forever. As the folklore goes, some saint used to meditate where the tree is, he died on that spot. Nobody knew the caste of that saint so nobody bothered to do anything with his dead body. People didn't really visit that part of town so the body just lay there until it decomposed into the soil. Soon the mohua tree materialised in the spot where the dead body was. At one point a nearby resident had a dream- that saint had been reborn as the tree. The saint was really immortal so he would live on as the tree. It would bear flowers and make the whole town smell good. People would find a place to meditate. At the time the whole area was full of trees. The dharmasagar lake was nearby. Many lake visitors would rest in the shade of the mohua tree. Many thought the smell of the tree was good for physical wellbeing.

The wife of the king of Agartala once came to Comilla and fell in love with the tree. She tried to have the tree moved to Agartala, but it had grown too big by then. However, later she collected seeds from that tree.

Flowers blossom in the months of Ashar and Srabon. The fragrance is so powerful that passersby often stop just to look at the flowers. The scent reaches the whole Badurtala area. Most of the year the tree doesn't have leaves but it gains leaves in the months of Boishakh and Joishtho. Flowers grow. The flowers stay for only a week. It is said that way back in the day whenever flowers bloomed, the tree would attract lots of bats. The sound of bats would become a nuisance. That is probably how the place got its name 'Badurtala'.

People of Badurtala think of the tree as part of the area's heritage. They say there is a kind of intoxicant in the flower mohua. Some even say that eating the tree's fruit will drive one insane. This tree is very important to people here and should be taken care of.

Locals have really gotten busy with trying to care for this tree. Last year the tree was separated from the footpath's concrete for watering. The Photo Association of Comilla also came forward to help preserve the tree. They put up signboards requesting people not to put up posters or stick nails on the tree. However, this hasn't been fully effective. Some are still advertising their businesses by sticking ugly posters on this beautiful tree.

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