It is later distributed as prasad (a holy gift). At the beginning of any religious occasion, a coconut is turned around the person or diety and broken at the entrance; this is to remove negativity and bring out the goodness. The whiteness inside the coconut denotes purity.
The fibre covering of the dried coconut is removed except for a tuft on the top. The marks on the coconut make it look like the head of a human being. The coconut is broken, symbolising the breaking of the ego. The juice within, representing the inner tendencies (vasanas), is offered along with the white kernel – the mind, to the Lord.
A mind thus purified by the touch of the Lord is used as prasad. In the traditional abhishekha ritual done in all temples and many homes, several materials are poured over the deity like milk, curd, honey, tender coconut water, sandal paste, holy ash, etc. Each material has a specific significance of bestowing certain benefits on the worshipers.
Tender coconut water is used in abhisheka rituals since it is believed to bestow spiritual growth on the seeker. The marks on the coconut are even thought to represent the three-eyed Lord Shiva and therefore it is considered to be a means to fulfill our desires.
The coconut also symbolises selfless service. Every part of the tree -the trunk, leaves, fruit, coir, etc. are used in innumerable ways like thatches, mats, tasty dishes, oil, soap, etc. It takes in even salty water from the earth and converts it into sweet nutritious water that is especially beneficial to sick people. It is used in the preparation of many ayurvedic medicines and in other alternative medicinal systems.
Ancient Indian doctors used to burn its outer shell to prepare tooth powder, creams and ointments for burns. Every inch of the coconut plant is very beneficial to humans hence Indians consider it a good omen to receive or give coconut as gifts. It is also called ‘Shreephal’ because it denotes prosperity.
Coconut is a crop with unique features. Owing to its versatile uses, the demand for coconut and its products has been on the increase having already attained the premier position in the world. Moreover coconut is an eco-friendly crop which permits co-existence of multi-species of plants.
It enriches soil fertility in association with other crops and is quite amenable to organic farming if appropriate intercrops are grown in the inter-spaces. Due to multifarious uses, the future of the crop is very bright irrespective of the location where it is grown in the world.