|Report of the health of the Holy Bodhi Tree by the Scientist of FRI Feb.9-12,2009|
Providing technical inputs for the upkeep and maintenance of the sacred tree, Bodhivrikhsa at Bodhgaya and for beautification of the temple complex
(Nov. 2007 – Oct. 2008)
Project Title: Providing technical inputs for the upkeep and maintenance of the sacred tree, Bodhivrikhsa at Bodhgaya and for beautification of the temple complex
Duration: No. 2007-Oct. 2009.
Client: The Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee, Bodhgaya, Gaya, Bihar, Post Box. No. 2, Buddhagaya-824231, Gaya, Bihar
Implementing Agency: Forest Research, Institute, P.O. New Forest, Dehradun-248006
On the request of the District Magistrate of Gaya a team of scientists visited Bodhgaya in June 2007 to deal with the matter related to the cutting of a branch of the sacred Bodhivriksha. The scientists observed that the Bodhivriksha had undergone some form of stress then, which was being reflected by somewhat scanty and light green leaves in the canopy and damaged roots and bark, as compared to the other two pipal trees growing nearby. The reasons attributed to this stress were due to:
v Copper toxicity due to repeated application of Bordeaux paste on the stem and branches as informed.
v Excess moisture in the soil causing asphyxiation (suffocation) of the roots as observed in the nearby-irrigated areas.
v Heat injury due to reflection of solar radiation from the temple structure, which is quite close to the tree.
v High intensity electric lights causing hindrance to the respiration process in the night.
v Soil compaction due to trampling under human feet in nearby areas.
v Aging of the tree slowing down the physiological processes.
v The metallic props erected for the support of the branches were noticed causing injury to the bark and tissue, which can be seen as dropping of latex on the props.
v Lighting arrangement of the Bodhivrikhsha in the night, the intensity of the light and heat generated to the nearby branches by the lamp shades, reflectors and bulbs installed may be causing damage to the tree.
v Lighting of lamps and candles, spilling over of oil and ghee, and wrapping of the stem by clothes by the devotees.
Corrective measures were then recommended for restoring the health of the Bodhivriksha and current consultancy project was then came underway on the request of the Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee (BTMC) after signing an MoU between the Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee and Forest Research Institute (FRI).
Objectives of the project
1. Providing technical advice, support and back-up by FRI Dehradun for the upkeep and maintenance of the Bodhivriksha and for beautification of the temple premises.
2. Evaluation of the health status of the tree for the physiological, pathological, entomological and soil aspects.
3. Conducting half-yearly visits for study of the health status of the Bodhivriksha and other tree species.
Scope of the project
(a) FRI shall provide all necessary technical advice to the Temple Committee for the management and maintenance of the Bodhivriksha and other tree species in the temple premises.
(b) FRI scientists under the supervision of Group Coordinator Research, FRI, Dehradun shall be responsible for rendering technical consultancy a Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee, Bodhgaya for the proposed activities.
(c) FRI shall take up soil testing, suggest appropriate site specific plant species, DNA finger printing of the Bodhivrikhsha and other adjacent pipal (Ficus religiosa) trees besides providing technical guidance to Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee, Bodhgaya in soil working, soil and moisture conservation measures, preparation of pits, soil amendments and treatment of soil/plants for diseases and insect pests. All testing will be done at FRI facilities.
(d) Half-yearly reports will be submitted by FRI to Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee, Bodhgaya in respect of works proposed.
1. SURVEYS CONDUCTED
Two surveys were conducted, one in Nov. 2007 and another in May 2008 and detailed studies as per work plan were carried out.
Status of Bodhivriksha in Nov. 2007
The sacred bodhivriksha, tree of Ficus religiosa was noticed in better condition and growth as witnessed by greener leaves and fuller canopy as compared to the last visit made in June 2007, when the tree exhibited somewhat scanty and light green leaves in the canopy and damaged roots and bark. New root growth at the base was also observed. White mealy bug attack was altogether cured due to timely treatment as recommended. The suggestions made during the last visit and through preliminary report for the care and maintenance of the Bodhivriksha were noticed to be followed and for this the management of BTMC is to be credited. The following actions as recommended were found to be undertaken by the management:
Ø Concrete wall around the tree base has been removed.
Ø Excess watering has been checked.
Ø Application of Bordeaux paste has been stopped.
Ø High intensity lights have been regulated and not put on throughout the night and it was assured that they would soon be replaced with small distant lights.
Ø Wrapping with clothes and burning of lamps, candles and incense sticks has been stopped at the tree base.
Other pipal trees near to Bodhivriksha in Nov. 2007
The pipal tree on right side of the temple, which appears to be older, is apparently under stress and showing dying of branches and reduced canopy. The reasons may be the old age of the plant besides tiled/concrete floor around the basal area, which does not allow percolation of water and aeration to the roots.
It is suggested that the basal area should be uncovered at least about 3-4 meter towards open space. Besides a barricade may be raised to check the movement of the people to the base of the tree. At present devotees are offering lamps and clothes around the tree and some of them were seen doing meditation under it by tying mosquito nets on the lower branches of the tree. Some of the top branches are already dead and decaying, which need immediate pruning and removal to avoid any untoward accident to the devotees and visitors by falling of them.
The pipal tree at the back of the temple is comparatively younger and exhibits good form and growth. The cement structure entrapped by the roots of the tree was carefully removed in our presence.
Urgent Actions suggested in Nov. 2007
1. Treatment of cut ends of branches on Bodhivriksha by wax or a paste of Bayleton (Tridemefon) in linseed oil (40 g/ litre).
2. Packing by rubber or foam cushion below branches and metallic props to avoid injury to tissues.
3. Arrangement of proper lights.
4. Regulation of number of devotees at a time in the temple premises so as to reduce pressure on soil and avoid injuries to the tree.
and removal of dead branches from the older pipal tree at the right side of
Status of Bodhi Vriksha in May. 2008
Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee (BTMC) had requested that the recommendations made by FRI earlier need to be implemented in the presence of the FRI team. Accordingly the visit was made and status of the tree was examined. The sacred bodhivriksha, tree of Ficus religiosa was observed in better shape and growth as witnessed by greener leaves and fuller canopy. Attack of mealy bug was altogether absent. Vediography of the Bodhivriksha was done by hiring a local camera man as envisaged in the project activities.
The main structure around the tree and vajrasan should not be removed as the tree has become accustomed for this structure and holding the base of the tree with its weight. Roots have already developed in this structure. Removing this structure around the base of tree might cause falling of the tree as the weight of the canopy is on one side only.
Two types of leaves (leaf dimorphism) were brought to the notice in May this year. Leaf dimorphism is a natural phenomenon found in perennial species also known as ‘seasonal dimorphism’ i. e. developing smaller leaves in summer and larger leaves in winter. The smaller leaves have crimped lamina and are partially rolled as well. Leaf dimorphism is generally reported to be an adaptation to summer draught. In this case it is the heat emitted by the temple structure. Copies of articles (abstracts) on leaf dimorphism by Aronne and De Micco (2001), Nilsen et al. (1986), Christodoulakis (1989), Gratani and Bombelli (2000), Johanna Clausen and Kozlowski (1965) are enclosed for your kind perusal in this context. Leaf dimorphism has no bearings on tree health rather it is adaptation of the tree.
Meeting with Bodhgaya Temple Mangement Committee
A meeting was held with Shri Sanjay Singh, DM, Gaya and Chairman, BTMC along with Shri Rai Madan Kishore, ADM, Gaya and Incharge, Bodhgaya Temple and SDM, Gaya to apprise the condition of the Bodhivriksha and operations to be carried out on it. It was also brought to the notice that few branches, which are dead and rotting need to be removed, otherwise they may fall on devotees and cause injuries. It was told that already a dead branch had fallen in the past from the other pipal tree nearly causing injury to a child. It was resolved that since the issue of removing branches is attached to the religious sentiments of the Buddhists and already in the past there was some controversy in this matter, this operation will be carried out in the presence of the representatives of various monasteries existing in Bodhgaya, along with representatives of the district administration, police, local people and monks.
Meeting with the representatives of Monasteries, monks, local people, media persons and local administration
The ADM Gaya had invited all the people at BTMC office and at site and after initial briefing by him, the team from FRI was asked to inform the gathering about the health status of the Bodhi Vriksha. The status of the tree was explained and queries raised by those present were duly addressed. The doubts and misconception about the tree and operations to be carried were addressed to satisfy the gathering.
It was clearly told to those present about the plan of removal of dead and rotting branches of the Bodhivriksha and the reasons for doing so. The whole exercise was done to take people in confidence and to sensitize them about the issue.
Operations done on Bodhi Vriksha at site in May 2008
Removal of dead and rotting branches
All the people present were then invited to the site to witness the operations to be carried out. The four branches, which needed to be removed, were shown to the representatives and possible hazards were brought to the notice. It was also explained that the protective measures, which will be taken up would be for the better health of the tree. The people consented with the plan and approach for executing it. The dead and rotting branches were cut and cut ends were treated with Chaubatia paste. One of the four branches was in such a bad rotting condition that as it fell on the floor, it broke into pieces and powder. Parts of the other two branches fell on their own while being cut. All the cut branches exhibited advance decay in them. The cut branches and their pieces were then collected, measured and kept in safe custody at BTMC office.
Spraying of micronutrient solution
To meet the micronutrient deficiency in the tree, a light dose (0.005%) of Agromin (B, Zn, Mg, Mn) was sprayed on the foliage by using a Guttor sprayer.
Padding with rubber and foam between the branches and props
Pieces of foam and rubber (30 – 45 cm in length, 15 – 25 cm in breadth, 5 – 10 mm in thickness) were carefully inserted below the branches to save them from injuries by metallic props, by raising the branches with the help of jack and manpower. In two branches the metallic straps put up over the branches were removed along with nails. The injured areas of the branches were also treated with 0.1 % Bayleton solution and Chaubatia paste. In case of three thicker branches, padding could not be inserted because they could not be raised to make space under them. In one branch metallic prop had made deeper injury and raising the branch could have snapped it, therefore, padding was not inserted under it.
In future, if props are required to be put up for supporting the branches, care should be taken to provide padding with foam and rubber below the branches to avoid any mechanical injury to the tree. Metal straps to hold the branches on the props should not be used. Nailing in the tree should strictly be prohibited. The props should be aesthetically correct to match the ambience of the site.
Painting of cut ends
The existing cut ends on the Bodhivriksha were painted with Chaubatia paste. The field staff of BTMC was trained for painting of cut ends. It is recommended that painting on cut ends should be repeated after six months.
2. INVENTORIZATION OF TREES IN TEMPLE COMPLEX
Following trees growing in the campus were identified:
Trees in temple complex:
Trees in Meditation Park:
3. CATALOGUING OF CUTS AND DEAD BRANCHES IN BODHIVRIKSHA
A local cameraman was hired at Bodhgaya and whole tree was vediographed to record all the cuts and dead branches existing in Bodhivriksha. CDs have been prepared along with the master copy in a video tape. This has been done with a view to prepare a record to deal with complaints of illicit lopping of branches, if any, as there was a controversy in the past regarding cutting of a branch. A copy of the CD is being submitted with this report to BTMC.
4. DNA FINGERPRINTING
Samples were colleted from the Bodhivriksha and two pipal trees in the campus, one older tree existing at the right side of the temple and other younger one on the backside. There is resemblance between the DNA fingerprints of the older tree at the right side of the temple with that of the Bodhivriksha while the younger tree at the back side has different DNA fingerprints than the Bodhivriksha. It may be conjectured that it is quite likely that the older pipal tree may have originated from the remains (roots) of the original Bodhivriksha (which was believed to be taken to Sri Lanka as a branch from original tree and the existing Bodhivriksha is believed to be brought from Sri Lanka as a branch). To prove this more DNA fingerprinting is required along with that of existing in Sri Lanka.
5. INDICATIVE LIST OF PLANTS THROUGH PLANTING IN
POTS FOR THE AESTHETICS AND DECORATION OF THE PREMISES OF BODHGAYA TEMPLE
6. GIST OF FOLLOW UP ACTION ON THE ADVICE OF FRI
(Dr. S. Nautiyal) (Dr. N. S. K. Harsh)