By Swami Harshananda
Śami literally means ‘that which brings peace’.
The śami has been considered a holy tree since ages. The Taittiriya Āraṇyaka contains a prayer addressed to the śamī tree for the removal of sins and enmities. The plant or even a branch is supposed to have the power to appease the terrible and angry aspects of the deities like Agni.
When a kṣattriya king intends to go on a victory expedition to subdue or destroy sinners and evil persons, he is expected to worship the śamī tree before starting. This is performed as a ritual also on the Vijayadaśami day by kṣattriya kings even today. Its leaves are sent to friends and relatives as a sign of goodwill on the Vijayadaśamī day. The upper araṇi is usually prepared out of śamī wood.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore