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Before the establishment of Chulalongkorn University, or to be more exact, the Royal Pages School, the huge piece of land that was to become the university’s campus was overgrown with vegetation and rain trees. These trees have continued to be associated with the university up to the present time. Since the university’s founding, students have come to review their lessons under their shade. With time, the number of rain trees decreased partly because of their vulnerability to diseases. Aware of this, H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX) encouraged the planting of new rain trees. On January 15, 1962, H.M the King visited the university and planted five young rain trees, three on the right side and two on the left side of the football pitch in front of CU Auditorium. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of H.M. the King’s Accession to the Throne, the university created the landscaped “Rain Tree Grove” to commemorate these rain trees.

 

Rain Tree

 

This grove was dedicated by H.R.H. Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. Rich with history, the rain tree, has become an important university symbol that helps unite the hearts and minds of all members of the Chulalongkorn community. In line with the Royal example, the university initiated a plan to plant 80 rain trees to mark the 80th anniversary of Chulalongkorn University, reiterating our wish to make the rain tree a lasting symbol of the university. The seasonal cycle of this tree corresponds meaningfully to the life of the Chula community. The trees wear verdant foliage early in the first semester, reminding us of the early days on campus of all freshmen. They then shed their leaves at the end of the second semester. This seasonal cycle is beautifully depicted in a university song, of which the translation follows:

 

The Glorious Rain Trees of CU

As the year unfold, the rain trees glow a-blooming

Propitious symbols that bind all souls

Time to welcome anew many a new-comer.

Delighted and cheerful they all are

Together, they behold the rain trees glow in glorious hues

Beauty of all time

Spirits high, they promise to shine this very day

singing and rejoicing, they let the rain trees

Their proudest symbol be on CU grounds

As mid-year come, the rain tree pods come a-falling

Slippery are the tree trunks in the rains

Off come the pods, down fall the resin drops

On slippery ground; unwarily slide one may

Of remorseful tear drops, the resin drops likewise remind:

An exam failure; is to one’s pride a year-long wound

A true reminder, the resin drops are

As the year winds down the rain trees’ flowers and foliage fall

On leaf-strewn ground, bare stand the lone rain trees

Away from home, away from kin, no fun, no whim

Earnest, they then turn to knowledge learnt

Away from friends, dear ones afar

In class they try to lag not behind and dismissed not be.