Peepal/ Bodhi (Tree of Enlightened) Tree/ Sacred Fig Tree (Ficus religiosa) is a large dry season-deciduous tree that can grow to a height of 30 metres. The tree is a species of the banyan fig and lacks the aerial props of the banyan. The trunk can achieveve a diameter of 6 metres.The leaves are heart shaped with a distinctive extended tip and are 4-6 inches long and 3-4 inches broad.The fig is small(1 to 1.5 cm), green and ripens to purple.The tree was worshipped since the time of the Indus Valley Civilization. Lord vishnu is believed to have been born under the tree and peepal is worshipped as symbolic of Vishnu. Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment under this tree. A circular platform is typically built around the tree for placing idols for worship. The tree is worshipped on Saturdays and on this day women tie red thread/ cloth around its trunk/ branches and circumambulate the tree to be blessed with a child. Peepal is planted in temples of ‘Shani’ and Hanuman. On Saturdays Goddess Laxmi is said to inhabit the tree. People water the tree for earning blessings of the Almighty. In India, the peepal is ‘married’ (symbolically) to the Banyan or the Neem tree. Peepal is typically planted to the east of the house or the temple.
Ficus religiosa is used in traditional medicine for treating asthma, diabetes, diarrhea, epilepsy, gastric problems, inflammatory disorders, infectious and sexual disorders. The bark yields tannin used in treating leather.