This one is for the humble coconut..
From a recent article in TIME Magazine on The Coconut Craze:
“…The coconut is becoming America’s latest trendy exotic edible, following the path of the pomegranate and the aa berry. The hottest part of the market is coconut water, the clear, slightly sweet liquid inside the fruit: sales of coconut-water drinks in the U.S. and Europe have doubled to more than $265 million in 2011 and are expected to double again in the U.S. this year, according to New Nutrition Business, a consulting group in London. “Coconut water is the fastest growing beverage category in the world,” says Julian Mellentin, director of New Nutrition Business. “It’s growing even faster than energy drinks.” Other parts of the coconut are in demand too. Coconut oil, once demonized for its high saturated-fat content, has been rehabilitated by research extolling its health benefits and by the popularity of vegan baking.
Most of you would of course know that coconut is a very important part of rituals, prayers and ceremonies in Hinduism.
Have you wondered about its spiritual significance? Here is what I found (courtesy, Yahoo! answers):
vijay.subra: …We never offer the coconut as it is. We remove the fibre that covers it and offer the fruit that is free from all the external fibre…By breaking the coconut, the water in it flows out. The heart is the coconut and it is covered by the fibre of desire. The water that flows out is the ‘Samskara’ or purification. The fibres on the surface are the desires. We must strip the heart of all desires and offer the core without the fibre. It then becomes an offering to God…
Mantravid16: In India one of the most common offerings in a temple is a coconut. It is also offered on occasions like weddings, festivals, the use of a new vehicle, bridge, house etc. It is offered in the sacrificial fire whilst performing homa. The coconut is broken and placed before the Lord. It is later distributed as prasaada. The fibre covering of the dried coconut is removed except for a tuft on the top. The marks on the coconut make it look like the head of a human being. The coconut is broken, symbolising the breaking of the ego. The juice within, representing the inner tendencies (vaasanas) is offered along with the white kernel – the mind, to the Lord. A mind thus purified by the touch of the Lord is used as prasaada ( a holy gift). … The coconut also symbolises selfless service. Every part of the tree -the trunk, leaves, fruit, coir etc. Is used in innumerable ways like thatches, mats, tasty dishes, oil, soap etc. It takes in even salty water from the earth and converts it into sweet nutritive water that is especially beneficial to sick people. It is used in the preparation of many ayurvedic medicines and in other alternative medicinal systems. The marks on the coconut are even thought to represent the three-eyed Lord Shiva and therefore it is considered to be a means to fulfill our desires. Source(s): Hindu Rituals and Routines by Swami Chinmayananda
Aradhana: I dont know the meaning of offering coconut to deity but as far as Shakti temples are concerned its got to do also with devotee Dhyaanu ‘s story. Mughal king Akbar cut the head of Dhyaanu’s horse and asked him to prove his bhakti and the power of his diety- Jwaaladevi who is maa Durga. So Dhyaanu prayed to maata to put life back into his horse. Maata appeared only when he had cut his own head to offer to her. When brought back to life by maata he asked maata that in future no bhakta of her has to give such a tough test and that whoever offers her coconut she accepts his prayer and be pleased with him. Maata said- “so it be”
And as Rajan wonders on another thread over at Yahoo!, does this deep-rooted custom (of offering coconut and its significance) reject the ‘wholly false forged “”aryan-dravida”" divide theory?’. Read on:
In north India, one will not find even a single COCONUT tree. COCONUT tree is grown in abundance along coastal areas much far away from north India. But, we find primary significance of coconut associated with religious rituals & social customs & culture in north India.
1:-During worshipping rituals of Hinduism the “”Kalash( COCONUT on top of water filled pot)”" is main deity.
2:-Copra(dry COCONUT) is offered to sacred Fire while Havan & Yagya.
3:-COCONUT is offered in Hindu temples as main item.
4:-Sisters gift the fruit of COCONUT to their brothers on various occasions.
5:- In laws of a boy/girl gift him/her copra(dry COCONUT) on various occasion right from the time of engagement. 6:-In the homes of typical north Indian communities, lots of COCONUTs get collected during festival seasons or auspicious occasions of marriage etc.
It is strange that NOT EVEN A SINGLE COCONUT TREE in north India but such a deep & strong relation & bond with COCONUT. What does this reflect??? …One thing is clear that “”arya-dravida”" racial theory is nothing but bundle of lies…It must be discarded.
And finally this nugget for those of you who may be wondering how does water gets inside the coconut:
Coconut water is the endosperm part of the coconut plant. Endosperm is the most common nutritive tissue for the development of embryos in Angiosperms and develops as post-fertilisation structure from the primary endosperm nucleus. Depending upon the mode of development three types of endosperm have been recognised. Nuclear, Cellular, Helobial.
The coconut endosperm is a nuclear type. In very young coconut fruit (about 50mm long) the endosperm is found as a clear fluid in which float numerous nuclei of various sizes. This fluid is compactly filling the embryo sac in which the embryo is developing. At a later stage i.e. when the fruit is 100mm long, the suspension shows, in addition to free nuclei, several cells enclosing variable number of nuclei. Gradually these cells and free nuclei start settling at the periphery of the cavity and layers of cellular endosperm start appearing.
This forms the coconut meat. This meat is very tender enclosing the fluid content called coconut water. At this stage the nut is called tender coconut. The quantity of the cellular endosperm increases further by the divisions of the cells. In mature coconut the liquid endosperm becomes milky enclosed by the cellular part called kernel and it does not contain free nuclei or cells.. .. (by S. Palaniappan, Pudukottai)