The Buddha lies beneath the vibrant flower of the sal tree, inside the compound walls of the Silver Pagoda (Preah Vihear Preah Keo Morakot) of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh. The tree’s name shala, shaal or sal, comes from Sanskrit (शाल, śāla, literally “house”). Native to southern Asia, the sal tree (Shorea robusta roxb) is sacred. In Buddhist tradition, Queen Māyā of Sakya gave birth to Gautama Buddha under a sal tree in a garden in Lumbini, in south Nepal. In the Hindu tradition, the sal tree is favored by Vishnu.
Sal trees in Cambodia, including this one, have signs at the base stating that picking the tree’s flowers is sinful.
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