In Hinduism, offering coconut to Hindu God and Goddess is a most common practice that you have seen in India. Needless to say, coconut holds a lot of importance whether there is any wedding, festival, occasion, ceremony or puja. It is a must-have item on the list along with sweets, incense sticks, flowers, and cloth for deities. People also break coconut whether they are going to start any venture, before construction of the house or buying any vehicle etc.
Significance of coconut in Hinduism
Also known as Sriphala in Sanskrit, holy Coconut is referred as God’s fruit. In Hindu religion, it is the only food that is used to symbolize God.
Coconut is a satvik fruit as is sacred, health-giving, pure, clean, and bestowed with several properties.
The three marks on the coconut (Nariyal) is considered to be the three eyes of Lord Shiva. That is why coconut is termed as auspicious in puja rituals.
Coconut and human Ego
The coconut fruit is also a symbol of human ego (ahankar). The breaking of coconut is a representation of breaking one’s ego and humbling oneself before God. It is believed that before surrendering oneself to god, one should free themselves from ignorance and ego to remove the human tendencies that come in a way to get blessings from God.
Replacement of Human sacrifice
There was a time when human and animal heads were smashed to appease God. It is when spiritual guru, Adi Shankaracharya denounced the inhuman practice of ‘Narbali’ on seeing no religious and spiritual significance and replaced it with an offering of the coconuts to fulfill their desires. The offering and breaking of coconut signify that ‘I offer myself at your feet.”
Resemble human head
Coconut is similar to the human head in many ways. While the coir of the coconut is compared to human hair, the hard nut looks like a skull, the water inside akin to the blood and kernel symbolizes the mental space.
Coconut in Hindu mythology
• According to Hindu mythology, there was a king Satyavrata who tried to enter in Swarga Loka (heaven) with his mortal body but thrown out by gods. It is when sage Vishwamitra created coconut to help king Satyavrata to show gratitude towards him as the king had saved sage Vishwamitra once at the time of drought.
• There is another legend which is associated with Lord Ganesha. As a kid, Ganesha got attracted to lord shiva’s third eye and went to touch it. It is then lord Shiva gave him a special ball i.e., Coconut to play instead of touching him.
• The association of human fertility cult with coconut is evident during wedding rituals in India. The fruit placed in the pot is a symbolism of womb whereas, the nut itself, represents a life that bestows fertility on the bridal couple.
• As it is a symbol of life, the pregnant ladies are refrained from breaking coconut as it is equivalent to kill a lifeform. It is also believed that vibrations while breaking down a coconut harms the fetus in the womb.
• According to traditional rituals of Gujrat, it is customary for a bride to present a coconut to the groom at the time of marriage. The coconut is preserved by the respective husband throughout his life.
• In case, you are affected by illicit effects of planet Rahu, sleep by placing a coconut near your head on a Wednesday night. Offer it to Lord Ganesha the very next day.