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The Hindu Origin of Coconuts, and our Coconut Chai


The principal ingredient of our Coconut Chai has an interesting origin story in Hindu Mythology.  According to this legend, a Hindu sage named Vishwamitra decided to help his friend, the kind King Trishanku, fulfill his lifelong dreams to ascend up the sky to the heavens, to the realm of the gods.  The gods themselves were not too keen on this dream, however.

Once Vishwamitra began to send Trishanku up to the heavens through Yajna (a sacrificial Hindu ritual), the king of the gods, Indra, saw Trishanku rising high into the sky. Indra became enraged, and as soon as Trishanku had made it to the gates of heaven, he grabbed Trishanku and threw him down, back to the Earth.

Vishwamitra, seeing that his friend was falling rapidly from the sky, cried out: “Let Trishanku stay where he is now!” So, Trishanku was stuck in the sky, somewhere between the earth and heaven. However, Vishwamitra knew that unless he was physically propped up, he may eventually slip and continue his horrible descent, and so he planted a mighty pole to prop up Trishanku and  keep him safe and sound.

This mighty pole became the coconut tree, and Trishanku’s own head became its fruit, with his beard as the coconut’s fiber, and his “eyes” seen if the fiber is removed.

As the coconut tends to be a common ingredient in many dishes in India, it has many other religious and cultural implications.  They are used as temple offerings, for blessings, marriages, and deity installations, or as offerings for guests. Coconuts are sometimes even used as appeasement offerings to the sea by fishing communities in India’s peninsular areas, which would explain why you will find many coconuts washed up on some Indian beaches.

The coconut also holds some other divine aspects.  For example, its three “eyes” at the base of the shell are representative of the god Shiva. Another example is its placement with mango leaves atop an earthern pot filled up with water, called a “Purnakumbha”. The pot represents mother earth, the water being the giver of life, the leaves representing life, and the coconut itself symbolizing divine consciousness.

The other ingredients in our coconut chai blend are quite honoured to have such a famous fruit amongst them.  Of course, each of them also have their own origin stories which are just as interesting...