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Why People Distribute Apta Tree Leaves on Dussehra and Vijayadasami day?

In North and Western parts of India people distribute leaves of Apta, or Apati, tree leaves on Dussehra and Vijayadasami day. In this ritual, Apta tree leaves symbolically represents gold or sona. People present Apta tree leaves to friends, relatives and neighbors and wish happy Dasara. There is an interesting story on why Apati tree leaves are presented on Dussehra.

Legend has it that a young man named Kautsa in Ayodhya once after attaining education from Guru Varatantu asked his Guru to accept a Guru Daskhina – a present offered by students to Guru after completing their studies.

Guru Varatantu at first said he did not want any Dakshina. But young Kautsa insisted that He should take a Dakshina.

Guru Varatantu to get rid of Kautsa asked him for 14 crore (140 million) gold coins. One hundred million for each subject taught.

The student then went to Lord Ram who was ruling Ayodhya and asked for the gold coins needed to pay his Guru Dakshina. Lord Ram promised to help Kautsa and asked him to wait near the Shanu and Apta Tree in his village

In three days time, Lord Ram with the help of Lord Kuber, the God wealth, showered gold coins from the leaves of Shanu and Apati Tree. The leaves of the trees became gold coins.

Kautsa collected the coins and gave 140 million gold coins to Guru Varatantu. The rest of coins were distributed to the needy by Kautsa. This happened on a Dussehra day. To commemorate this event even today people collect leaves of Apta tree and present it as sona or gold.