Friday, January 3, 2014

BAEL TREE


Bael (Aegle marmelos), also known as Bengal quince, golden apple, stone apple, wood apple, bili is a species of tree native to India. It is present throughout Southeast Asia as a naturalized species. The tree is considered to be sacred by Hindus. Its fruits are used in traditional medicine and as a food throughout its range.

The fruit is also used in religious rituals. In Hinduism the tree is sacred. It is used in the worship of Shiva, who is said to favor the leaves. The tri-foliate form of leaves symbolize the trident that Shiva holds in his right hand. The fruits were used in place of coconuts before large-scale rail transportation became available. The fruit is said to resemble a skull with a white, bone-like outer shell and a soft inner part, and is sometimes called seer phael (head-fruit). However, it is quite likely that, the term 'Seer Phal' has coined from the Sanskrit term 'ShreePhal, which again is a common name for this fruit. Many Hindus have bael trees in their gardens.
           
In the traditional Newari culture of Nepal, the bael tree is part of a fertility ritual for girls known as the Bel baha. Girls are "married" to the bael fruit and as long as the fruit is kept safe and never cracks the girl can never become widowed, even if her human husband dies. This was seen to be protection against the social disdain suffered by widows in the Newari community.
            
Research has found the essential oil of the Bael tree to be effective against 21 types of bacteria. It is prescribed for smooth bowel movement to patients suffering from constipation and other gastrointestinal problems.
            
Research also indicates that unripe Bael fruit is effective in combating giardia and rotavirus. While unripe Bael fruit did not show antimicrobial properties, it did inhibit bacteria adherence to and invasion of the gut (i.e. the ability to infect the gut).
            
The bael fruit has a smooth, woody shell with a green, gray, or yellow peel. It takes about 11 months to ripen on the tree and can reach the size of a large grapefruit or pomelo, and some are even larger. The shell is so hard it must be cracked with a hammer or machete. The fibrous yellow pulp is very aromatic. It has been described as tasting of marmalade and smelling of roses. Boning (2006) indicates that the flavor is "sweet, aromatic and pleasant, although tangy and slightly astringent in some varieties. It resembles a marmalade made, in part, with citrus and, in part, with tamarind." Numerous hairy seeds are encapsulated in slimy mucilage.

Few local names of bael tree are - 
Language
 Name
Sanskrit
बिल्व
Sindhi
ڪاٺ گدرو
Hindi
बेल - Sirphal
Telugu
మారేడు  - maredu
Tamil
வில்வம் – Vilvam
Sinhalese
බෙලි - Beli
Punjabi
Beel
Marathi
बेल or कवीठ  - Kaveeth
Malayalam
കൂവളം - koo-valam
Konkani
Gorakamli
Kannada
ಬೇಲದ ಹಣ್ಣು
Bengali
বেল
Oriya
Baela ବେଲ
Urdu
(Bael)بیل, - Sirphal سری پھل
Gujarati
બીલી
Assamese
বেল
Indonesian
Maja
Khmer
ព្នៅ /pnɨv/
Lao
ໝາກຕູມ /mȁːk tuːm/
Malay
pokok maja batu (tree)
Thai
มะตูม /matuum

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