If you are an Indian, you would know the importance of coconut in Indian rituals. People offer coconuts and flowers to God because it is auspicious. Have you ever witnessed a coconut cracking? They do it with a billhook machete. The cracking of coconut is a whole science. It would break into two pieces only if you crack it at a certain point between the three holes of coconut. But in temples, we break the coconuts into several pieces by smashing it at a stone in the temple. But do you know the significance of breaking coconut before God?
If you are a south Indian, from native cuisines to special occasions, you would have cracked a coconut open. The use of coconut is not much in North India as compared to the South. Even if you are a North Indian, you would have seen pictures of banana leaf in festivals. Devotees fill banana leaves with rice, sweets and vegetables. You would also notice two pieces of coconut at the two corners of the leaf. Kerala uses coconuts excessively in the dish. The same tradition spreads to the south side coastal area of Karnataka. Coconut trees are widespread all over Tamilnadu and possess various uses. Even eole make broomsticks from dried coconut leaves. In every temple of South India, one notices shops selling coconuts with flowers. Having said that, let’s look at the “why” behind breaking coconuts.
Significance of Breaking Coconut in Temple
Have you ever been to Kumbh Mela or Kumbhabhishekam? It is an occasion of renewing the Kalasha. Kalasha is the metal container filled with grains kept at the top of the Gopura of the temple. When Kalasha is being set, coconut is a very vital part of it. Most of the South Indian household rituals include this beautifully decorated colourful vessel called Purnakumbha. This Purnakumbja’s important part is coconut. Without breaking coconut it is incomplete.
Reasons for the importance given to coconut
After all that, let us see why so much importance given to breaking coconut? In Indian texts, we believe coconut to be the fruit of prosperity. Even the coconut tree has ancient importance it seems and called Kalpavriksha. It is a symbol of prosperity. Kalpavriksh means boon grater. It is the tree that satisfies your desire. It fulfils your wishes. The fruit born by this auspicious tree is highly prosperous. As representing that coconut is Triphala.
When we look into the stories from our Puranas, there is the backstory for the importance given to breaking coconut and coconut tree. The Trishanku has declined a place in Heaven called Swarga in Sanskrit. To help him, Maharshi Vishwamitra created a coconut tree. Trishanku had to sit on top of the tree. This signifies how Maharshi Vishwamitra considered coconut tree to be equivalent to heaven.
Like already mentioned, the coconut tree has more uses than just coconuts. The ancient and historic importance given to coconut only because of that. Also, Sacrificing human or animal life to God was prevalent in ancient India. Men sacrificed animals and even humans for God as it was pleasing the God with blood. As civilization happened, this tradition was changed. Men relaced Bali with cracking a coconut. It is also a symbol of destroying human pride. It is leaving it with God.