Historic banyan tree in Lahaina’s Front Street gets burnt down in Hawaii wildfires; Know
about this 150-year-old tree whose ‘roots’ lie in India

Produced by: Bhoomika
Designed by: Mohsin Shaikh

Maui is one the most historic towns of Hawaii which has been ravaged by the on-going wildfires. Within Maui, lies the town of Lahaina, which has a population of around 13,000 people who are now fighting for their lives and livelihood as the raging wildfires are engulfing one house after another resulting in the death of more than 50 people

Hawaiian town Maui
ravaged by wildfire

The historic town of Lahaina has a historic place within itself called Front Street, which has served as a gathering place for the locals who would often come to sit under the shade of the silent yet mighty Banyan tree. But, now the mighty Banyan tree lies lifeless as it got burnt down during the Hawaiian wildfires leaving behind a charred trunk and a few leaves

Lahaina's Banyan tree
charred in fire

As per several reports and personal accounts of the local people, the Banyan tree was the heart of this area. Locals had built a cemented area around the tree where they would sit for hours and chatter away. On some occasions, this place would turn even livelier as the Banyan tree would be decked up in colourful bounties and lights. But sadly, this has now become history as the tree which served as the lungs of the Hawaiian town is now gasping for its own breath

Historical Hawaiian banyan
tree becomes history

It is not natural for a banyan tree, which is known to be native to India to grow in the middle of the Hawaiian town Lahaina. The roots of this 150-year-old tree lie in India

Roots of Lahaina's 150-year-
old Banyan tree lie in India

Towering over 60 feet and supported by multiple trunks spread across an acre, this Banyan tree was gifted by India in the form of a sapling in 1873 to mark the 50th anniversary of the first Protestant mission in Lahaina. It was then an 8-feet (2-meter) sapling, which was planted miles away from the North Pacific Ocean

When Banyan tree sapling
was gifted by India

In India, the Banyan tree, locally called ‘bargad ka ped’ in Hindi, is not just considered a tree but it holds significant religious value apart from being considered a major form of natural lung purifier and also efficient in providing shade owing to its dense network of branches on which multiple leaves grow together. The Banyan tree is said to represent growth, strength, and self-awareness through reflection

Significance of Banyan tree

However, when the residents of Lahaina woke up on August 11, the majestic Banyan tree was burnt due to the wildfire. People on X (Twitter) mourned the loss of the majestic tree

Hawaiian wildfires 2023

The landmark Lahaina Banyan Court has now been forever erased from the map but it will remain etched in the minds of people

Lahaina Banyan Court

Apart from the Banyan tree, some other landmarks in the Hawaiian town which were burnt down included the Waiola Church, which recently celebrated its 200th anniversary, Wo Hing Temple Museum, Lahaina Heritage Museum and Baldwin Home Museum

Hawaiian landmarks burnt
and destroyed

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