Tulasi in Hindu Culture
Tulasi is scientifically called 'Ocimum tenuiflorum' and commonly known as holy basil. Hindus regard Tulasi as an incarnation of Lord Vishnu and worship it for four months.
Time for Worship:
Hindu worship Tulasi plant for four months. These four months are called Chaturmas. Hindus worship Tulasi starting on HariSayani Ekadasi in Nepali month of Asar(June/July) and ending on Haribodhini Ekadasi in Karthik(October/November).
Plantation of Tulasi:
On Nirjala Ekadasi in Jestha, Tulasi plant is sown in a small pot. Nirjala means waterless. So, until the Tulasi is planted, it is forbidden to drink water.
The plant is then transferred to a special flowerpot which has god structure made on all four sides. The transfer takes places on HariSayani Ekadasi in Nepali month of Asar. Generally, a male person from Brahmin family is asked to transfer the plant from the small pot to the assigned flowerpot. The Tulasi plant is placed in a courtyard and not on the puja kotha( a separate room for worshipping the gods).
How do Hindus Worship Tulasi?
Generally, the senior people are the one who does most of the puja in the house. After the worshipping in the puja kotha is done, a senior woman then proceeds to worship the Tulasi plant. The Tulasi plant is watered from a small beaker and offered foods(prasad) and flowers.
A traditional light source made up of cotton soaked in oil (diyo) is lighted in the evening. The diyo is stored in a container made up of mud in the traditional way. It is done to protect the diyo from the wind. The container carrying diyo is hanged using a pole.
Why is Lord Vishu Worshipped as Tulasi?
There is a story about Lord Vishnu, Jalandhar and Jalandhar's wife: Brinda. Jalandhar was once a powerful demon. He was born of Lord Shiva's third eye and therefore was extremely powerful. He had defeated all of the gods and had decided to fight Lord Shiva. Lord Vishnu then took the form of Jalandhar and went to Brinda. Brinda thinking Vishnu to be her husband mated with Lord Vishnu. After she found out it was Lord Vishnu, she cursed him to become a plant.
Health benefits of Tulasi plant:
There are several health benefits of Tulasi plant apart from it being a religious plant.
a) The Tulasi leaves are a great remedy for skin problems.
b) Tulasi provides oxygen for 20 hours and ozone for 4 hours.
c) Tulasi is a great anti-oxidant and helps cleanse the body.
d) Tulasi leaves can help fight cough and cold.
e) Tulasi leaves help lower blood pressure.
f) Tulasi helps reduce cholesterol level.