Why do Indians worship Tulsi (the holy Basil plant)?

#1 Apr 24th, 2003, 15:50
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Either in the front, back or central courtyard of most Indian homes there is a tulsi-matham an altar bearing a tulsi plant. In the present day appartments , many maintain a potted tulsi plant. The lady of the house lights a lamp, waters the plant, worships and cirumambulayes it. The stem,leaves, seeds, and even the soil, which provides it a base are considered holy. A tulsi leaf is always placed in the food offered to the Lord. It is also offered to the Lord during poojas especially to Lord Vishnu
and His incarnations.

In Sanskrit, tulanaa naasti athaiva tulsi - that which is incomparable (in its qualities) is the tulsi. For Hindus, it is one of the most sacred plants. In fact it is known to be the only thing used in worship which, once used, can be washed and reused in pooja - as it is considered as self-purifying.

As one story goes, Tulsi was the devoted wife of Shankhachuda, celestial being. She believed that Lord Krishna tricked her into sinning. So she cursed Him to become a stone (shaaligraama). Seeing her devotion and adherence to righteouness, the Lord blessed her saying that she would become the worshipped plant, tulsi that would adorn His head. Also that all offerings would be incomplete without the tulsi leaf - hence the worship of tulsi.

She also symbolises Goddess Lakshmi, the consort of Lord Vishnu. Those who wish to be righteous and have a happy family worship the tulsi. Tulsi is married to the Lord with all pomp an show as in any wedding. This is because according to another legend, the Lord blessed her to be his consort.

Satyabhama once weighed Lord Krishna against all her legendary wealth. The scales did not balance till a single tulsi leaf was placed along with the wealth on the scale by Rukmini with devotion. Thus the tulsi played the vital role of demonstrating to the world that even a small object offered with devotion means more to the Lord than all the wealth in the world.

The tulsi leaf has great medicinal value and is used to cure various
ailments, including the common cold.
#2 Apr 25th, 2003, 00:41
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I've noticed basil referred to as "Holy Basil" on Thai menues and wondered if that was just it's name or if it had spiritual connotations. Basil is indeed a wonderful plant to grow, and adds so much to many dishes. I grow a few different varieties in pots on a sunny window-sill. 'Siam Queen' with its beautiful purple-tipped leaves and tangy flavor, and a 'Genovese' for regular tomato based sauces, and a basketball shaped 'Spicy Globe' are my favorites -- don't know how these compare to the Tulsi you mention.
#3 Apr 25th, 2003, 04:35
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#3
ever tried apricot salad mixed with fresh basil leaves??
jummy
#4 Apr 25th, 2003, 15:29
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Tulsi (Ocynum Sanctum) is a sacred plant of the basil family. Tulsi or basil originated in India and is regarded as a sacred herb. This plant continues to enjoy popularity in Trinidad after being passed form generation to generation of East Indians.

Tulsi is used in cooking for its flavourful foliate. In fact, it is often used to flavour Mediterranean and Italian cuisine. The fresh or dried leaves add a distinctive flavor to many foods, such as pasta, rice and salads and its purple colour makes it an excellent garnish.

Besides being used as a culinary herb, tulsi has medicinal and cosmetic uses too. The essential oils may be extracted from leaves and flowers and used for fragrance in perfumes and soaps.

It is said that tulsi, when taken internally, can relieve gas and reduce stomach cramps and nausea, headaches, fevers, colds and anxiety.

Applied externally, (essential oil), it may be beneficial for tension, cuts, wounds, abrasions, bites and stings and as a face wash for acne. Some use it in their hair rinse for shine. Tulsi (essential oil) is also said to be anti-spasmodic and may boost the immune system.

The leaves are mosquito-repellent and soothe insect bites. They also expel worms and treat ringworm and snake bite. An infusion aids digestion and is antibacterial.

Inhaling the essential oil is supposed to refresh the mind and stimulate a sense of smell that has been dulled by a viral infection. In massage oils it is a nerve tonic and eases overworked muscles. Basil should be avoided on sensitive skin and during pregnancy.
#5 Apr 27th, 2003, 02:29
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IS it a family of my American grown Basil plant that I use alot in my cooking and salads? I grow it in a pot on my tiny balcony.
It will not over winter here in the East Coast.
the silence listens
#6 Apr 27th, 2003, 02:31
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I just noticed, you said purple leaves..ok..I have grown that in the pot too. But for cooking I find the green leaves are preferable.
#7 Apr 28th, 2003, 03:09
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Basil appears to be an 'annual' when grown in cooler climates -- it won't overwinter outdoors. My seed catalogue lists 13 varieties -- most are versions of the 'pesto', green-leaved type which we commonly use for cooking and salads. The leaves of this type were the only kind I could find in Goa, and, along with fresh oregano and cilantro, were nice additions to avocado salads and the occasional veg soup/stew I put together.

Several other varieties listed sound like they would be nice for tea -- Cinnamon, Lemon, and Lime all sound nice. I guess not everyone does their own cooking, but fresh herbs really add nice flavours -- the dried stuff you buy in shakers and sits around for a few years in a cupboard is a pretty useless substitute (in my opinion). Rub a leaf between your fingers (fresh oregano, cilantro, as well as basil) and you'll see what I mean. Herbs easily grown in pots in a warm sunny place -- check out your garden center for starter plants and avoid the hassle of starting from seed.

Apricot salad? new one to me, pw, sounds good, how about a recipe?
#8 Apr 28th, 2003, 03:26
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#8
quite easy recipe...first make some sugarwater/sorry I don t know the english word,have sugar half water/cook it until you have some kind od sirup/but it in the freezer
take fresh apricots,slice them/mix with sugar water add some amaretto liquor and some fine sliced fresh basil leaves
that s it,if you like you can add some almond ice
#9 Apr 28th, 2003, 04:15
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yum
#10 Apr 28th, 2003, 04:28
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maybe we should start a new thread : what are your favoured spices and herbs
#11 Apr 28th, 2003, 08:07
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#11
Fresh basil and coriander leaves. Oh, and fresh mint. Cumin and coriander seeds/crushed. Starting to use more cardamom.
#12 Apr 29th, 2003, 00:27
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#12
we've kind of hijacked the Prince's thread and strayed a ways from Spirituality and Religion, but hey, what's not to like about herbs, spices, and Amaretto?

thanks, paan wallah, I'm going to have to experiment with adding tasty liquor to my fruit salads

I usually refer to coriander leaves as 'cilantro' (aka chinese parsley), but indians usually call it coriander as you did, maree. Pain in the neck to grow as it gets too tall for pots and needs to be replanted regularly to ensure a constant supply -- unlike basil which will stay nice and compact and last all summer if you constantly pick off the top before it fully flowers. Oregano will grow all year like a weed -- just establish it in some part of your garden and you will have it forever. mint grows like a weed as well -- dead easy.
#13 Apr 29th, 2003, 15:14
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I think the plant in this photo of a mud shrine in Varanasi is tulsi?
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#14 Apr 30th, 2003, 10:36
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I make a salad of peaches or apricots with basil and* beaume de venice poured over it(*a muscat wine)
#15 Apr 30th, 2003, 16:09
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Yes Maree! You are right, this is indeed a Tulsi plant. I must share with you here that in India if you find a plant in a Hindu Shrine or Temple it would (99.99%) be a Tulsi plant. As I already mentioned in my earlier post that Hindus consider Tulsi as holy plant and use its leaves in all the rituals & ceremonies.

Even at the death time, tulsi leaves are put in the mouth of the suffering person, in the absence of Ganges Water (which is also considered as holy). Belief behind this is that it reduces the physical sufferings of the person on death bed. It is also belived that by doing this, the person on death bed will go to heaven after the death.

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