** TULASI **
Family : Labiatae Sanskrit name : Tulasi Hindi name : Tulasi
"tulasi kananam chaiva grhe yasyavatishthate tad grham teerth bhoot yama kinkara "
In folklore as in medicine, Tulasi had a reputation for both evil and good. In some lands it was associated with the legendary reptile known as the basilisk, whose breath and glance could kill. The ancient Greek believed that Tulasi would grow only if gardeners vilified it while sowing it. People in other countries, however cherished it as a protection against witchcraft and as a symbol of love.
For Hindus, wherever Tulasi is planted in grooves or in house holds, that place becomes sanctified as a place of pilgrimage. Modern sciences has established that the Tulasi perceptibly purifies the air within a wide radius of the vicinity, proving most effective just before sunrise, the time when it is ritually circled by the devount. Even dried leaves retain their original properties.
It is believed that even the Lord of Death : Yamdoots dare not enter or gives way before this holy plant. Tulasi is perpetually associated with goddess lakshmi. Each year, at the waxing of the autumn moon, the plant is married in a religious ritual to one of the three gods of trinity : Vishnu. Any domestic courtyard which is centered around the holy Tulasi is considered in India, a place of peace, piety and virtue. Hence Tulasi is worship by all.
It is much branched erect bushy plant of about 4 feet heights. Its leaves are aromatic and are dotted with minute glands; the flowers are purplish, in small clusters on slender spikes and the seeds are yellowish or reddish.
Medically, the plant provides a pharmacopoeia for the entire household. Its leaves are crushed in a honey and use to cure cough, colds, bronchitis and to reduce fever. Infusion of Tulasi leaves and ginger is a popular remedy for stomachaches especially in children. Its essential oil is an antiseptic and insect repellent, while its roots reduced to paste, sooths bites and stings, acting even as an antidote to snake venom and scorpion bites.
The plants roots symbolizes religious pilgrimage, its branches divinity, its crown an understanding of the scriptures. Traditionally, once the plan has been planted in an Indian courtyard it is nurtured for three months before it is worshipped with offerings of rice, flowers and lighted lamps. After that, virgins pray to the holy Tulasi for husbands, married women for domestic peace and prosperity.
Thick branch of Tulasi, when dried, is cut into beads of equal shape'size to make rosary beads for the devotees. A mala or necklace is also prepared with beads and devotees wear it with faith.
Rishis had ordained that if a ghee-lamp or incense sticks or even flowers are not available for performing puja or worship, Tulasi leaves can be offered to the diety. this explains the importance and valus of Tulasi, which is even otherwsie a MUST for every solemn puja or celebrations.