Many would pass the purple flower that sprouted between two concrete slabs in a Queens backyard as another unwanted weed, but Jamaican resident Sam Lal thinks that the plant resembling Lord Ganesh holds holy powers.
He claims that the growth of unusual amaranth plant has cured his back ailments.
AdvertisementThe plant, which is not native to the area, has a trunk that resembles the elephant-headed god.
And now Lal, a Hindu by religion, is seeing an inundation of neighbours and friends to have a glimpse of the almost four-foot-tall flower that started growing in August.
Lal, 60, claimed that it was the flower that relieved him of the pain due to a bone spur near his spine and bulging discs in his neck.
"This formation came to heal my illness. They say God comes in many forms. I figure this has taken the form of a plant to come into my yard to bless me," the New York Daily quoted him as saying.
Garden spokesman Tim Heimerle said that horticulturalists at the garden had never seen an amaranth take an elephant-like shape.
"For it to have that long trunk like this is not a natural thing," he said.
According to Lal, the flower's position, growing through concrete, facing a garage he converted to a prayer space, is evidence of a connection to Ganesh, who is revered as the Remover of Obstacles.
"I felt that healing power that came with it. I've lived a religious life all my life. I feel my prayers have been answered through the deities," he said.
"Nature is a strange thing, and it's possible it may have just done that spontaneously, but who's to say," said Heimerle.
However, with winters knocking on the door, Lal fears that the flower may die like other amaranths, which are usually killed by winter frost, and hence is covering the flower with plastic at night to protect it from cold.
"It's a little upsetting. It hurts me to know I'll lose it," said Lal.