Meaning behind the roots: a fable
Once upon a time there lived a little neem plant. Because of his bitter leaves and fruits, he attracted few animals and, therefore, soon began to feel very lonely. He complained to his mother that he did not want to be a neem plant. The mother tried to dissuade her child from entertaining such thoughts.
But one day, when the little plant went on complaining, she suggested that prayers to Lord Ganesha might help him realise the wish. After prolonged prayers, Lord Ganesha appeared and asked the tiny plant what he wanted. The plant said, "Make me anything else but neem." Ganesha, also failing to dissuade the young plant, granted the boon. The plant turned into the popular kari-patta immediately, from which curry leaves are used in traditional south Indian cooking.
Now, every passerby would pluck out a few leaves from the plant. This had the plant in great distress again. He called out to his mother in anguish, and she advised him to pray to Lord Ganesha. Ganesha appeared before him. "Now, what do you want this time?" he asked. "I want to become neem again," the plant cried out.
Ganesha admonished him for his past desires. but gave his plea some thought; children. after all. can make mistakes. He told him. "You know, in normal circumstances. I could not have turned you back into neem; but as I was certain that you were making a mistake. I had left your neem roots intact. Because of that. I can still change you back to neem. But remember. all this will not happen any more." The kari-patta thus became a neem plant again and Lord Ganesha took his leave.
Note: The author is grateful to Gopal Gandhi for this fable.