bilva

The bilva tree (Aegle marmelos), commonly called as the bel tree or the wood-apple tree, has long been considered as very sacred. Known as Śrīphala or Śrīvṛkṣa in the Sanskrit works, it is said to be dear to Śiva, whose vegetal form it is supposed to be, to Pārvatī or Śakti and to Śrī or Lakṣmī. Worship to this tree is an integral part of the elaborate Durgāpūjā ritual.

Its leaves are invariably used in the worship of Śiva and Śakti. Amulets prepared out of these leaves are believed to be endowed with supernatural powers.

Medicines prepared out of the unripe fruit are credited with very effective powers of cure.

A pledge taken over the bilva leaf is considered too sacred to be broken.

‘Bilva’ is also the name of one of the mudrās or poses of hand and fingers, generally used in the worship of Viṣṇu.