Many Indian religions are natural religions with reverence and worship
for trees and animals. The basis for this symbolic worship is the
basic belief that God is all pervading and omnipotent that manifests in
everything. What Westerners categorize as supernatural (gods, spirits
etc.), natural (animals, plants, weather, seasons etc.) and cultural (humans),
Indians hold as essentially the same.
Further, some tribes in Telangana province of the state of Andhra Pradesh may believe that marrying Trees symbolically averts the astrological predictions, e.g., that predicts the imminent death of the first spouse. Perhaps in the hope of fooling the fate, one might marry first a tree, and then a human, the astrological prediction would kill the first spouse (the tree) rather than the second human spouse. This belief in astrology may be explained by comparing to the very civilized and modern American psychic hot lines and American astrology that promise to predict the future.
Robert Parkin (United Kingdom) examined the phenomenon of tree marriage found in certain tribes of central India (Hindi speaking nationalities) in its cultural and historical context. It is compared with other examples in India of marriage to an inanimate object or to an individual who acts as a symbolic groom but not subsequently as a husband. Tree marriage in tribal groups in central India, however, would seem to have more to do with a specifically tribal version of reincarnation which is linked to the kinship system and lacks the ethnical basis of the karma doctrine of the Indian society. The significance of the practice varies with the tribes among which it is found.
However, rapidly changing Indian culture is westernizing under the garb of modernization. Interestingly, a boy or a girl might marry a tree (hypothesis) for some incomprehensible reason in a remote village in Telangana, while 200 miles away a teenager in Hyderabad dates over the Internet (reality)! And a modern American calls a psychic hotline to find out his or her future over a cellular phone. Your interpretation of the Indian Culture or Indian (Hindu) Religion depends on the depth of your knowledge. Shall we say Americans practice polygamy and voodoo, while Indians marry trees and charm snakes?
Thanks to Drs. Rajagopal Duddu, Vishu Reddy K., Raj Rao for sharing their experiences and George for his curiosity.
Sreenivasarao Vepachedu, 06/07/2000
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