To see a Banyan Tree is at first confusing, with its roots appearing to go up and down, but as we learn about them we see they are truly symbiotic. They have deep meaning to the Indian villages where the Banyan tree is a gathering place, a town centre offering shelter and providing a huge canopy under which to trade stories and goods. In other cultures they are home to spirits and resting places for both good and evil, to be worshipped or avoided depending on your particular beliefs. Some of the oldest and largest cover nearly an acre!
The genus of tree from which they come is also known as a "strangler fig" as it springs from berries who find their homes on other hosts, trees, walls or similar structures, and wrap their roots around making their home where they land. Once the tree begins to grow, it develops vines, which grow to the ground, eventually rooting in the ground they reach, and giving the tree another source of nourishment. To me this is symbolic of many things, from parents giving birth to their children and slowly watching them grow until they find their own roots, and as they find their own roots they begin the process of first supporting themselves, and later, the parent (tree).
In business we go through a similar process as the more experienced members of the team bring in younger team members and allow them to find their way, and plant roots, making the entire structure stronger. When we understand that we need a combination of experience with enthusiasm, knowledge combined with fresh eyes to look at how we do things to grow, then our organizations become stronger for it.
The Banyan tree is an amazing symbol of the power of community, as it gains strength, it provides more opportunity to bring people together. As communities gather under the banyan tree, the opportunites to share knowledge, break communal bread together, trade stories or goods, increases and shared experience allows for potentially greater good as a collective. Reliance on other members of the community to work towards the good of all provides a stronger foundation on which to move forward.
I find banyan trees strong and peaceful, graceful and full of meaning, a powerful symbol of the strength of nature, nurtured. If you see one, take the time to appreciate its glorious beauty too, just watch out for the falling berries!