Durva grass the common name for a species of grass called cynodon dactylon. Also known as Bermuda grass, it is considered by the Hindu religion to be sacred. It has a number of symbolic meanings within Hindu culture. For instance, some believe it is the hair of Brahma, the god of creation. Others say it represents the hair of Vishnu, another Hindu god. In some folk tales, it represents the hair of Sita, an avatar of the goddess Lakshmi. One thing that’s for sure is that durva grass has been used in Hindu rituals for thousands of years.
It is thought that durva grass began to be used in Hindu rituals more than 3,500 years ago, during the Vedic era. There are various accounts of how the grass became sacred. One story claims that it became so after some nectar fell on it at the time the cosmic ocean was churning. Another account says that a pot with nectar in it was put on top of some durva grass, making the plant immortal.
Durva grass can survive in a variety of extreme conditions as it is a hardy grass. It has deep roots with which to search for water to nourish itself. When you pluck a blade of the grass, it sprouts back. In terms of medical properties, durva grass is antiviral, antifungal, antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, coagulant antidiabetic, hypointensive and hypoglycemic. It’s also a diuretic and has anticancer properties. Its Ayurvedic properties include heaviness, coolness, astringency and sweetness.
Due to its ability to sprout back once plucked, durva grass is an important symbol of rebirth, renewal, regeneration and fertility. As these can all be connected to prosperity, the grass is symbolic of that too. As well as being symbolically important, durva grass was also considered by medieval herbalists to have medicinal significance. They used it for its Ayurvedic qualities to treat bladder inflammation, urination problems and water retention. Today, the grass is more commonly seen as an important component of decorative lawns than as a prominent element of Ayurvedic herbal practice.
The role of durva grass in Hindu rituals is an important one. In rituals where offerings are made to fire or to the god Ganesha, participants put on rings made out of the grass before starting proceedings. It is believed that the grass purifies those who wear it in this way. The grass itself may also be offered to Ganesha. According to mythology, Indian sages known as rishis historically fashioned the grass into potent missiles with which to kill demons and wicked kings. Vena is one such monarch said to have been killed in this way.
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