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Mystery blues for Bodhi tree

Gaya, May 7: Legend has it that Lord Buddha attained enlightenment praying beneath its predecessor. But the Bodhi tree, a direct descendant of Buddha’s seat of divinity inside the world-famous Mahabodhi shrine in Gaya, is reeling from a mystery disease.

Fresh leaves that are dropping thick and fast from the tree are sending the officials concerned in a tizzy.

The tree is regarded sacred by Buddhists all over the world and the Mahabodhi Temple Management Committee is responsible for its upkeep and maintenance.

A few days back, A.K. Singh, a plant scientist from the Rajindra Agriculture University, was called to diagnose the tree’s ailment and prescribe necessary steps to prevent the rapid fall of leaves.

Though officials are tightlipped about Singh’s findings, sources said the plant scientist has found the tree to be under-nourished and having less than a required moisture level around its roots.

Gaya district magistrate Jitendra Srivastava, who is also the chairman of the temple management committee, brushed aside the apprehensions and said there was nothing to worry and there were absolutely no threats to the tree.

Conceding that a plant scientist from Rajindra Agriculture University had indeed examined the tree, he said the expert has suggested some additional nutrients for the plant and follow-up action was being taken on the directives issued by him.

Asked why there was abnormal drop of fresh leaves, the district magistrate said several factors may have contributed to the fall, including the possibility of the tree acquiring more than the normal number of leaves and the excess being shed now.

Moreover, the wind speed, of late, has been more than the normal resulting in the fall of fresh leaves, Srivastava further said.

Mahabodhi temple chief priest Bhadant Bodhipal said treatment has already begun and the plant has responded favourably during the last couple of days.

A few years back, the Bodhi tree was found suffering from milibug, a not-so-rare plant disease.

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