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Ritual performed for safe relocation of 300-year-old banyan tree

2019/06/17 22:47:25

Taipei, June 17 (CNA) Officials performed a good luck ritual Monday in the southern city of Tainan to pray for the safe relocation of a 300-year-old banyan tree, according to the city's Agriculture Bureau.

Bureau Director Lee Chao-tang (李朝塘) and staff members visited Chenan Temple (鎮安殿) next to the banyan tree Monday, where they prayed to Shen Nong, the god of agriculture, for the successful relocation of the tree and tied several safety amulets to its branches, the bureau said.

The 300-year-old banyan tree, nicknamed the "grandfather" and listed as one of Tainan's protected trees due to its age, is healthy but following urban land readjustment that elevated the surrounding ground is now in a low-lying area, the bureau said.

As a result, the low ground could collect standing water after showers and waterlogged soil might damage the roots of the tree, so there is an urgent need to move it to higher ground, the bureau said.

To ensure the safety of the banyan tree when relocated, the bureau is using a tree disease sniffing dog from National Pingtung University of Science and Technology to make sure it does not have brown root rot, a common and lethal tree disease in Taiwan, Lee said.

Meanwhile, to find a proper area to settle the 300-year-old tree and an auspicious time to prune its roots to facilitate the relocation, which will not take place until October, the bureau consulted not only experts from Tainan's Tree Protection Committee but also a spirit medium at Chenan Temple to communicate with the deity.

It's because the temple has looked after the tree for more than 250 years, Lee said.

Another reason to consult the medium is that the tree was allegedly once involved in a mysterious incident, in which five chainsaws used to prune the tree suddenly malfunctioned all at the same time and pruning could proceed only after religious counseling, according to the temple.

A park behind the temple has been selected as a new home for the tree and the first root pruning, originally scheduled last Thursday, was postponed until Monday due to heavy rain last week, the temple said.

(By Yang Sz-ruei Chi Jo-yao)