Why Hindus break Coconut in Ganesha Temples etc?
For centuries Hindus participate in rituals that involve coconuts in more than one way. Today many in India are trying to figure out why? Is there a basis or a reason for including coconuts and their products as part of the offerings to God?
One good look at the coconut and your mind will come up with many good reasons. To get the right answer to this question, you need to look at it from several angle.
The first thing is that the coconut tree is tall and does not have branches. It takes a great deal of effort to pluck a coconut. The breaking of a coconut is a culmination of the effort of man in combination with the gift from the Gods.
The milky white kernel reminds of the the milky way – Thiruparkadal – the abode of Lord Vishnu. Such is the white of the kernel and it is loaded with goodness.
Many have asked me, when God feeds us all the time, what is the need for us to offer food to God. That is a good question. The answer is good people love to offer food to God as a sign of gratitude. However one thing is very clear, after the offering is done, the food is always consumed by human beings and not by GOD. Though spiritually it has been consumed by GOD and such a food is twice blessed and is called prasad – the food from the Gods.
The Prasad which is the term used to describe the food offered to God is finally consumed by us. Very rarely have we heard of God having actually consumed the food. Hindus also believe that God is within us. So when we eat the food God is also happy. Coconuts and Bananas make us feel happy whenever we eat them because of certain things contained in them.
A tough nut to crack
The coconut is within a hard shell. So when you break it, it reminds you of all the situations in your life that are a tough nut to crack. You need to use a lot of force to break the coconut and only then will you get the fruit of your action. Lord Ganesha is associated with elephants. Breaking coconuts is peanuts for the elephants. Elephants love to consume coconuts. So coconuts are mostly offered to Lord Ganesha because he resembles the elephant. The devotees are so happy to break the coconut so that makes it easier for Lord Ganesha to get the food. It is a sign of helping Lord Ganesha as a sign of gratitude for having removed the obstacles in their life.
What is so special about a coconut tree?
The coconut tree is very tall. It usually stands out in a forest. It looks like it wants to reach the sky. I always remember the quote, “Sky is the limit” whenever I see a lone coconut tree.
To me it looks like it draws up the water from deep below the earth and force the water to rise up and up and the water eventually finds it way into the coconuts on the top side of the tree. It is like the energy traveling from the Mooladhara chakra and then finally reaching the head – the Sahasra – the crown chakra.
The coconut tree has no branches. Looks like it has only one aim. Lord Ganesha has only 1 tusk, the other tusk is broken off because Ganesha represents the One God and One Spirit concept instead of duality which is always a source of confusion.
Obstacles are caused in our life because we are sometimes indecisive. We keep toying between choices and we are undecided. That postpones our activities leading to loss and anxiety. So Ganesha represents the solution. Do not have 2 thoughts have only 1 and then the obstacle is removed. The coconut tree having no branches reminds us of this.
Remember that is why you should go around Lord Ganesha only once. It is a mistake to go around Him more than once. Other Gods are 3 times and Goddess Durga is 4 times. So the coconut tree is the opposite of duality as it has no two ways. It is only 1 way.
It looks like the coconut tree is safeguarding a precious gift from God and it keeps it at a great height. To get the coconut you need to take a lot of effort. Climb a coconut and see for yourself. Even if you are very strong man you will puff and sweat a great deal.
Once you get the coconut and consume the nectar (coconut milk) inside the coconut you will be refreshed and back to normal. You feel it was worth the trouble.
A coconut tree lives for a long time and keeps on producing the extraordinary coconut one after the other. In Kerala people always say that a coconut tree will never harm anyone.
I feel that this tree is a very positive tree. Even on the seashores of Kerala etc, whenever I tasted the coconut water inside the coconut, I was surprised – it was sweet. Even the salt water turns into nectar.
Divinity and Coconut
The coconut has 3 eyes on it. 3 eyes is always considered divine. Lord Shiva has 3 eyes. 3 is a number associated with God and Guru. Ganesh also starts with G. G has the value of 3 in English Numerology. Bilva leaves that are offered to Lord Shiva is a trifoliate leaf. 3 eyes may also mean Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu. 3 may mean body, mind and spirit. In Christianity we have the Father, Son and Holy spirit. Your camera tripod has 3 legs. The 4th will be trouble. 2 will be of no use. 3 seems to be perfect. 3 legs will stand on any uneven surface. 4 legs will stand only on even surface.
Lord Ganesha symbolizes the removal of obstacles. Vigneshwara means lord of removing obstacles. So if you have blocks then you are advised to pray to Lord Ganesha.
It is not easy to open up the coconut except by breaking it at one shot by throwing it against a wall or on the floor. It breaks with a loud noise. The breaking is associated to breaking the obstacles.
The obstacles in the life are a tough nut to crack. You can say, it is tough coconut to crack. So cracking coconuts is a way of saying that we like the problems to be broken like the coconut that we break inside temples or at the entrance of temples. The coconut is really hard.
You need God’s help and prayer to crack the tough nuts in our life. Breaking a coconut is a way of saying “Cheers” the problem is cracked. Once broken the sweet and nutritious kernel is exposed. It is white and pure and nutritious.
One of the classical Ayurveda books says something like this, “God gave us all the medicines – it is available in nature as plants, fruits and trees – so God wants you to take care of yourself and don’t complain”.
The 2 main obstacles in life!
Health and Wealth. These are the 2 main obstacles in life. If your health is gone, wealth is of no use. If wealth is gone, your health will be affected due to the mental stress you will go through. From a health problem so many other problems arise. A health problem can lead to childlessness for example. If you have a heart problem, your energy level for earning wealth decreases drastically.
People go to temples or any place of worship for better health and better wealth. The solution that a temple offers must attend to the health problem and the wealth problem.
Lord Ganesha is the remover of obstacles. To remove obstacles you need to use a lot of force. Elephants have a lot of force in them. They can push through ordinary blocks in no time.
Break a problem into small pieces and then finish them off. The coconut is broken into several pieces. The breaking of the coconuts symbolizes that act of breaking a problem into several pieces.
The most important reason!
The basis for what I wish to tell you is that the broken coconut is mostly consumed by human beings ultimately. Though it is broken thinking about God, God does not consume it. It is always for the human beings.
Coconut above all is a miracle. If you start doing a research on coconut you will be surprised when you come to know of what a coconut offers in terms of nutrition.
Coconut is highly nutritious and rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
It is classified as a “functional food” because it provides many health benefits beyond its nutritional content. Coconut oil is of special interest because it possesses healing properties far beyond that of any other dietary oil and is extensively used in traditional medicine among Asian and Pacific populations. Pacific Islanders consider coconut oil to be the cure for all illness. The coconut palm is so highly valued by them as both a source of food and medicine that it is called “The Tree of Life.”
Only recently has modern medical science unlocked the secrets to coconut’s amazing healing powers.
For almost a century, the western scientists have been spreading false information that coconuts and coconut oil is bad for health. If coconuts were really bad for human beings, it would never have become a part of Hindu rituals.
Following are the great benefits of Coconut:
The entire coconut tree is very useful. Ask a person who hails from Kerala (like me). The coconut tree is fully utilized by the human being. Every bit of it is useful. When the coconut tree is alive it produces 100s of coconuts for a countless number of times.
Banish the myth that Coconuts are loaded with cholesterol!
One stupid scientist fooled the entire world into believing what he said, looks like he was tipped by businessmen who wanted to sell other oils. Most people tend to believe anything that is said by a scientist. The scientist said that coconuts will kill you very quickly but contrary to that all the people who lived on coconuts have a long and healthy life when compared to those who did not consume it.
Actually scientists are very good when it comes to physical objects, objects that are non-living. When it comes to living creatures and especially a complicated life form namely human beings, all laws of physics seem to fail. So the science of medicine as practiced by modern doctors is far from the truth, though they are good at many things. They say coffee is good for health at one time and then say coffee is bad for health. They say alcohol is good for health and then say alcohol is bad for health. The reason for this struggle is that science does not work consistently on human beings.
For example, Newtons 3rd law – every action has a equal and opposite reaction does not always work on human beings. For example if I slap you, you will slap me back. But in some cases, like if you slap Mahatma Gandhi he will show you the other cheek. A human body can stop and go into motion without any external force acting upon it. The thought is internal and there is nothing external about it. So it defies Newtons 1st law of motion.
So coming back to correcting the stupidity of one scientist who said coconuts are bad for health……..
Coconut oil is 50% lauric acid which is a medium chain fatty acid and is considered responsible for many of its health benefits. The only other abundant source found in nature is in human breast milk. So coconut oil is like the milk of mother nature.
Coconut is a potent anti-bacterial and anti-fungal it is a great cleanser of our intestines and is something that can help heal alimentary canal problems. On top of this coconut will help your body fight off infection so eat it whenever you are unwell or feel something coming on, this is thanks to it being converted to Monolaurin by the body which fights off infections (viral or bacterial).
Stable for Cooking
Coconut oil itself which can be purchased pretty cheaply in your local health food store is hands down the best cooking oil. It is stable at high heats retaining all of its benefits (unlike Olive oil) and it will leave the food with a delicious taste.
Weight Loss/Metabolism Boosting
The effect on your thyroid coconuts have are amazing, they can boost thyroid function by up to 20%. Having an efficient thyroid is essential for our bodies to carry out several functions including boosting our metabolism and energy production.
Coconuts has been proven to have anti-cancer effects especially of the colon and breast. This is due to the oils protective nature and ability to safeguard the body from infection whilst cleansing your system.
So after offering to GOD, never forget to consume the coconut. In many temples, they save the coconut water as the coconut is broken and this water is given to all the devotees attending the ritual. I feel that the coconut water should not be wasted. It is natures best natural isotonic beverage, an instant energiser, is the best hydrator and so remember in case you feel like next day you are going to have an hangover remember to have 1 glass of coconut water and the result will be amazing. However just because you found a way to get rid of hangovers do not drink alcohol. Alcohol is bad for health and is a tamasic food which takes you away from divinity. Just drink coconut water instead of alcohol.