Bilva बिल्व, bilva

The sacred tree Aegle marmelos. Other names are Bael, Japanese bitter orange, and Stone apple.

It is believed that Bilva leaves are  sacred and dear to Lord Shiva. There is a legend according to which this tree appeared from the sweat drops of the spouse of Shiva – Parvati. Parvati named it Bilva and said that she would always be present in it. That is why the leaves of the Bilva tree are so good for worshiping Shiva.

Offering Bilva leaves to Shiva provides the worshiper with three vargas: righteousness, wealth and wellbeing, as well as enjoyment of the joys of life.

The leaves are shaped like a shamrock that symbolizes Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra.

The bilva fruit symbolizes Lakshmi, the Goddess of happiness, prosperity, and beauty.

Legend about Bilva

Once upon a time Lubdhaka, a poor tribal man and true devotee of Lord Shiva, went to a huge forest to gather firewood. Whereas darkness engulfed the jungle, Lubdhaka got lost and couldn’t find his way home. He was exceedingly scared as the wild roars of the animals began to fill the jungle. Looking for protection until dawn, Lubdhaka climbed the nearest Bilva tree and found safety and refuge in its branches.

Since Lubdhaka was sitting on branches of a tree, he was afraid that if he dozed off, he might fall off the tree. To stay awake all night, Lubdhaka decided to tear off Bilva leaves one by one and drop it down with the name of Shiva. As the sun rose, the faithful hunter realized that he had thrown thousands of leaves on Shiva Lingam, which he had not noticed in the dark.

Lubdhaka worshiped Lord Shiva in the best way all night and, thanks to his devotion, tigers and other wild animals left. Thus, Lubdhaka not only survived, but was also rewarded with divine happiness.

According to Puranas, since that day, the hunter Lubdaka’s story has been told every year on Mahashivaratri night. This widespread legend also formed the foundations of the famous custom of offering Bilva leaves to Lord Shiva on Shivaratri.