Vijaya Dashami

Vijaya Dashami And The Tradition Of Exchanging ‘Gold’

Vijaya Dashami – the one festival that is celebrated all over India. Each region of India has different ways of celebrating it, different customs and traditions to follow.
There is a particular custom which is observed by the people of Manarashtra – exchanging leaves of a specific tree, which the Maharashtrians call as ‘Aptyachi pane’ or leaves of Apta tree. The botanical name of the tree being – Bauhinia hookerii. But these leaves are not exchanged as mere leaves but as a token of Gold.
How this tradition came into practice? There is a legend behind it –
A Brahman named Devdatta had a young son, Kautsa. He went to Rishi Varatantu for earning knowledge. After completing his education, Kautsa requested his teacher or Guru to ask for his Guru dakshina. Rishi Varatantu was not very keen on this, but Kautsa insisted that the Rishi should ask for his Guru dakshina. Then Rishi Varatantu said, give me fourteen crore gold coins, one crore each for the fourteen sciences that I taught you.
At that time the kingdom of Ayodhya was ruled by King Raghu, an ancestor of Shree Ram, who was well-known for his generosity. Kautsa went to King Raghu and requested for fourteen crore gold coins. King Raghu was unable to fulfil his demand as he had just then accomplished the Vishvajit Yagnya or sacrifice and had donated all his wealth to the Brahmins.
So the King went to Indra, King of the Gods and requested for the gold coins. Indra summoned Kuber, the treasurer of the Gods and asked him to shower gold coins on all the Apta trees in and around Ayodhya. Kuber did the needful and all the Apta trees were showered with gold coins. King Raghu gave all the coins to Kautsa, who in turn gave those coins to his Guru as Guru dakshina.
Rishi Varatantu accepted only fourteen crore coins. Kautsa took the remaining coins back to King Raghu. But the King refused to take those coins, saying that he had given those as ‘Daan’ or donation and so he could not take them back.
Kautsa then distributed all the remaining gold coins among the people of Ayodhya Nagari.
Since then it became a custom to exchange the leaves of that particular tree as a symbol of gold.
Image courtesy: Flickr.

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