If you happen to see a house or a business with a Tulsi plant in the front yard, chances are that place belongs to an Indian family. Holy Basil, as Tulsi is sometimes known in English, is one of those plants that Gujarati folks find many uses for around the home.
Rituals and Pujas
Tulsi is considered a holy plant so it is used when offering anything to the Gods. For example, no prasad (food offering) is complete without a leaf of tulsi in it. In some rituals such as vishnu sahshtranaam, we offer 1000 leaves of Tulsi to Lord Vishnu each time while reciting a basic mantra.
In Ayurveda, (an ancient indian health modality), Tulsi, whose scientific name is Ocimum Sanctum, is known as the “Queen of Herbs.” The miraculous healing properties of Tulsi derive primarily from the essential oils and hundreds of beneficial compounds called phytonutrients contained within it that give it significant disinfectant, germicidal and fungicidal properties.
When one has a cough, fever or digestion issues, we boil the Tulsi leaves and drink the tea. A few leaves dropped in drinking water or foods can purify it and kill germs within it. Even smelling it is known to protect against colds and other viral infections. Kidney stones, acne, diabetes, headaches and many other ailments can also benefit from the use of Tulsi. For cuts, a poultice of Tulsi leaves is applied to the wound.
Tulsi contains vitamin C and other antioxidants such as eugenol which benefits cholesterol levels as well as repairing damage done by free radicals that result from stress. Oral care is another area where Tulsi excels as a mouth freshener, an oral disinfectant and helping to destroy bacteria that cause cavities and all other manner of dental problems. Its health benefits are many and recent research on Tulsi are confirming most of these beliefs.
The event of Tulsi vivah is something you may have heard about. This is a story of how Lord Vishnu ruins the chastity of Vrinda, the wife of the demon Jalandhar, in order to defeat the demon. She curses him that he will turn to a black stone and will be separated from his wife in one of his births.
When Vishnu reincarnates as Ram, he gets separated from his wife Sita. Vrinda is reincarnated as the Tulsi plant with all her pureness and goodness. She is then wed to Shaligram (the black stone Vishnu has to reincarnate as) in a ceremonial gesture.
In India, many people perform this “wedding” like an actual wedding. Having a bride’s side and a grooms’s side and the whole ceremony just like they would for real human beings.
Some also believe that the Tulsi plant has the ability to neutralize polluted air. Organic India’s CEO, Krishan Gupta explains:
“It is one of the best plants which purifies the environment. Its cleansing action is due to its property to release high amounts of oxygen, which minimizes the adverse impact of industrial and refinery emission.”
The Taj Majal has become victim to its beautiful white marble turning yellow as a result of automobiles and industry release of sulfur dioxide emissions. When sulfer dioxide combines with oxygen and moisture, it contributes to a destructive fungus referred to as “marble cancer” which corrodes the marble.
Organic India has committed to providing one million Tulsi saplings to plant near the Taj Majal, as they believe it will be able to absorb harmful gases from the air and serve to insulate it from environmental pollution.
For these same reasons, you will notice that many Indians plant Tulsi in the front of their homes and businesses, inviting in all the positive energy.