Four members of the Kaxinawá Tribe from the Brazilian Amazon state of Acre, on the borders with Peru, visited Kew earlier this week to bless the plants in a traditional ceremony.
Spiritual leaders (Pajé) Txana Ikakuru and Isarewe Huni Kunin led the traditional blessing ceremony. They were accompanied by Dani Shawarakani on her first trip outside the homelands of the Kaxinawá.
The Pajé chanted two separate blessings while seated on the Palm House floor, covered in a bed of leaves for the occasion. The blessing invoked the forest guardian spirits and was for all the plants of the world. Photo credit: RBG, Kew.
The banyan tree is central to several Asian religions including Hinduism & Buddhism. Banyan refers to many species of fig, but most specifically to the Indian banyan, Ficus benghalensis. Banyans also serve a practical purpose, as a shady place for merchants to meet – banya is from the Gujarati word for trader. The epiphytic tree starts by wrapping itself around a host tree before plunging roots into the ground – a convenient metaphor for forces beyond human control, or struggle more generally. The banyan is sacred to Buddhists as a place of reflection. After attaining enlightenment, the Buddha is said to have sat under a banyan for seven days, reflecting.
Gorgeous intense blue-purple flowers with pale centres borne in dense clusters & aromatic dark green evergreen leaves. A lovely small rhododendron shrub that would make a great focal point designed into a border, bed or standalone container.