Botanical: Ziziphus mauritiana| Hindi: बेर | Marathi: बोर | English: Indian Jujube
AboutThe Ber tree (Ziziphus mauritiana) is a deciduous tree with glossy green leaves and thorny branches. Native to South Asia, it bears small, round fruits known as B er, with a sweet and tangy taste. The tree adapts well to arid climates and is known for its hardy nature, reaching up to 15 meters in height.
Medicinal Uses: In traditional medicine, various parts of the Ber tree are used. Ber fruits are believed to have digestive benefits, and extracts are used for their potential anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic properties. The leaves and bark are employed in herbal remedies for various ailments.
Tradition and Culture: Ber holds cultural significance in South Asian traditions. The tree is often associated with religious rituals and festivals. Ber leaves are used in traditional ceremonies, and the fruits are considered auspicious, symbolizing prosperity and well-being. The tree is featured in folklore and traditional stories.
- In Ramayana Ber fruits have an association with Shabari, one of the extraordinary characters who offers Bers to Bhagwan Ram.
- Ber fruits are offered to Lord Shiva, and in all Shiva temples, the fruit is given great importance, especially during Maha Shivaratri, the Hindu festival in honor of Lord Shiva.
- The Ber tree is also considered sacred by Sikhs. Gurudwara Ber Sahib is located in Sultanpur Lodhi near a Ber tree, which is known to have been where Guru ji meditated for more than 14 years. During his meditation it is believed that he had a communion directly with the Divine
- Ber is said to have sustained the famous Mewar King “Maharana Pratap” and his family during his exile. The humble Ber fruit once again proved its worth by providing nourishment to the royal family.
Environmental Impact: Ber trees contribute to environmental sustainability. Their ability to thrive in arid regions aids in soil conservation and prevents erosion. The tree’s deep root system helps in groundwater recharge. Ber orchards provide habitat and food for birds and insects, promoting biodiversity. Additionally, Ber trees are well-suited for afforestation projects, contributing to green cover and ecological balance.
Food and Culinary: Ber fruits are a favorite snack amongst school going kids in India. They love the unique sweet and sour taste of ber enhanced with seasoning of salt and red chilly powder. The fruits are consumed fresh, dried, or processed into jams and pickles. They are used in traditional sweets, adding a unique flavor. Ber is a popular ingredient in regional cuisines, contributing to both sweet and savory dishes. The dried fruits are enjoyed as a snack, and Ber-based beverages are also prepared.
Anandvan Trivia QuizQuestion 1: Why is Ber tree considered sacred by Sikhs?
Answer: The Ber tree is considered sacred by Sikhs. It is often grown around gurdwaras, as Guru Nanak is believed to have received enlightenment beneath a Ber tree. A Gurudwara called “Ber Sahib” exists at the place in the town of Sultanpur Lodhi. A very old Ber tree exists at Amritsar in Punjab. Known as “Dukh Bhanjani Beri,” it was already in existence when the fourth in the lineage of Sikh gurus, Shri Guru Ram Das, founded Amritsar city and the holy sarovar in the 16th century. This particular Ber tree is now over 400 years old and still fruiting! The devotees coming to the Golden Temple complex do not pluck the fruits, but sit under the tree in the hope of a fruit falling. It is believed that if you pray in front of this Ber tree and then take a holy dip in the Golden Temple waters, it will cure you of all your ailments and diseases.