August 24, 2015
Who would have believed that a plant thought to be diseased could turn out to be a miracle tree for countless women. When farmer Thangaraj found a two-feet white plant of what looked like neem among his crops, he called an educated agriculturist to check whether it was diseased.
After some lab tests it was found that it was a neem (Azadirachta indica) with a colour variation. Thangaraj refrained from weeding it away and let it grow. He gradually started to believe that the tree was auspicious and brought him and his family a lot of good. Slowly word spread and drew many people, especially women who could not bear children.
Thangamani (39) who had remained issueless six years after marriage believes that she conceived only after she went around the Vellai Vembu (white neem tree) at Karaikadu village. There are many like her who vouch for the ‘holiness’ of the tree.
The village had reportedly faced acute water shortage with scanty rainfall and wells drying up every dry season. But the `divine tree’, they believe ensured that there had been abundant water all through.
The devoted villagers chorus that even as the wells in the nearby places went dry, the five wells that surrounded the tree remain copious, perennially.
Besides individual prayers, a proper ritualistic puja is held every Tuesday, which draws a huge crowd.
According to Jothi Basu, an Agricultural Officer at Mecheri Block, the plant could be a variant of the neem variety and the complete characteristic of the species could be assessed only after the tree grows.
“Even though the white variety had been sighted, this could also be a deformity because of some genetic change, a possibility that could be one in thousands,” he added.
Six years after the unique plant came into limelight, its colour has changed and looks like a normal neem. But people have not stopped looking at it with devotion to seek favours. Whatever scientific reason or absence of it could be behind the tree, it remains a place of succour to whoever comes with a wish.