Hindus consider Belpatthar or bael leaves to be very sacred. It is directly associated with lord Shiva. However besides Being holy it also has scientific and medical benefits as well.
Holy bel tree
Bael or Aegle marmelos is widely found in South East Asia. wood Apple,Bengal quince, stone Apple and bitter orange are some of the names given to bael. Bael tree is also known as Shivadrumn. It is said that goddess Parvati resides in this tree in all her forms. Bael tree is said to be the symbol of purity, prosperity and success. From early times bael leaves are used for medical purposes. It is also used as food ingredient specially in Sri Lanka. Bael tree has the ability to grow where no other tree can survive.
Story behind bael tree
According to ‘skanda purana’ once Devi Parvati shed her sweat and some drops fell on mount mandrachal and the tree grew from it. It is thus said that Devi parwati resides in the bael tree in all her forms. This is why shiva is very fond of Beal leaves. Some say that bael leaves symbolises the three God Brahma Vishnu and mahesh. According to puranas the three leaflets stand for three eyes or trinetra of lard shiva.
Types of bael leaves
There are many varieties of bael leaves. Amongst them the three leaflets leaf is most common.
We even find leaves with four, five or six leaflets. Bael leaves can have upto 21 leaflets. These kind of leaves are mostly found in Nepal. Some trees in India may also have these many leaflets.
However the most auspicious is the white leaves. These are absolutely rare and hardly known to common man.
Let me tell you a story of a hunter who just by offering bael leaves achieved nirvana.
Once there was a cruel Hunter by the name of ‘Gurudruh ‘. He would hunt wild animals such as tigers and lions. His wife was ardent follower of shiva but Gurudruh did not believe in him. His wife believed that Gurudruh’s cruelty would lead him to hell. This often made her sad. She wished that somehow her husband would get moksha.
One day Gurudruh his on the branch of a bael tree while waiting for the wild. While waiting he unconsciously plucked the leaves from the tree and threw it on the ground.
It so happened that there was a Shivling hidden under the tree, just where the hunter was throwing the leaves. He had no clue that there was a Shivling there. The whole night he sat there and threw leaves and shiva sat under, in the form of Shivling excepting the offerings that was not even consciously offered.
At dawn when first rays of sun hit the ground, shiva appeared and granted moksha to the hunter.
This is why it is said that even if unconsciously one offers Belpatthar to shiva, his or wish is granted.
Not only shiva but bel leaves are offered to goddess Mahalakshmi. It is said to be very auspicious to offer Belpatthar to maa Mahalakshmi on Friday.
We can understand the pawer of bel tree by reading the religious books like Vedas where it states the importance of the bel leaves. In believe