As a kid when I used to stroll in the backyard I couldn’t stop admiring our ‘TuLasi kaTTe’-area which enclosed Tulasi plant;it was beautifully painted and adorned with rangoli in front of it.
Our hindi movies too show their bahus encircling tulasi plant and praying for welfare of their homes thus Tulasi plant if found in all Indian homes(in the front or back yard) as a domesticated plant. Even mordern homes(flats) do have a place for tulasi in a ‘Tulasi kaTTe’ if not for any other plant; such is the importance of this revered plant.
In Indian culture Tulasi occupies a special position, it is utmost revered; the worship of Vishnu is never complete without being offered Tulasi. In ayurveda too Tulsi occupies a lot of importance and is used as a treatment for various illnesses, which will be listed in uses section of this post.
So my first entry in this collection is about ‘Tulasi’-split as: Tula- asi ; tula=compare, asi=no which in Sanskrit translates as ‘the incomparable one’.
It is said to be originated in India and has travelled all over the world through arabic and European travellers and hence it has acquired lot of importance in Mediterranean cuisine and is also regarded as sacred Basil/Holy Basil.
On Kartik shukla paksha poornima Tulasi is married to Shri Krishna (Damodara)
on that day Tulasi plant is adorned with bangels and a ‘mangal-sutra’ as a sign of womanhood the area is decorated with sugarcane rods and flowers forming a ‘mandapa’ , sweets and savouries are offered to God krishna and Tulsi and then distributed among the present devotees.
This festival is an innaguration of other marriages that take place after Kartik maasa and before this marriages don’t take place ,say like in the month of Shravana or the preceding AashaDha since they’re rainy seasons so parents of bride and bride grooms wait till Kartika maasa poornima and after the marriage of Tulasi, the season of marriages is inaugurated .
Family: Lamiaceae (Mint family)
Species: O. tenuiflorum
Other species : Ocimum canum (Ram tulsi or Kali Tulsi), Ocimum basilicum, Ocimum Kilmand, Ocimum scharicum are the other related species of the Tulsi (Ocimum Sanctum).
Cultivars: There are as many as 25 cultivars of tulasi as is very challenging to exactly determine to which species each cultivar belongs because the seeds of Tulasi cross breeds easily and also grows quickly. Some are listed below:
- thai Basil- also known as ‘Thai-queen’
- Sweet bsil-with a flavor of clove and is widely used in cooking,garnishing
- Licorice Basil-smells like Licorice-an artificial flavoring agent
- Genovese Basil-similar to sweet Basil
- Cinnamon Basil-Has the smell of cinnamon
- spicy globe basil
- Purple ruffles basil
- Magical micheal basil-a hybrid variety used for culinary purposes
- Fino verde basil
- Nuffer basil
- Lettuce leaf Basil-has big leaves and is used commonly in salads
- Mammoth basil-similar to genovese basil,has a strong -sweet flavor
- Lemon Basil-has a lemony taste,used in cooking; also known as americanum basil
- Lime basil-similar to lemon basil
- Greek bush basil
- Dwark basil
- African blue basil
Medicinal Properties and applications:
Tulasi plant contains ‘adaptinogen’ an anti stress agent also used as mosquito repellant; its medicinal properties and uses are elaborated below:
- Used in treating cold ,cough and sore throat including asthama,bronchitis and othe respiratory disorders.
- Used as an anti-malarial agent and extracts of tulasi plant prove very effective in repelling malaria causing mosquito. Its known to be propylactic , prevents insect bites through its larvicidal properties.
- Used for trating Kidney stones; the juice of tulasi along with honey relievs pain and flushes stones via urinary tracts.
- Proved to be an effective anti allergen
- Can also be given to children while treating common colds,cough
- used to treat skin ,teeth and even eye disorders
- An anti -infertile agent it is an effective medicine both for males and females suffering from infertility- thats why women are found encircling it daily (?)
- Has anti-fungal,anti-viral and anti diabetical properties.
Tulasi plant in a modern home.
Many people confuse Tulasi plant as a herb but actually it is a shrub, there’s a difference between the two.
Shrub-a loose descriptive term for a woody plant which produces multiple stems, shoots or branches from its base, but does not have a distinct single trunk.
Herb-(1) strictly, a plant without persistent stems above ground, often confined to perennials with annual stems or leaves arising from a persistent subterranean stem or rootstock. More generally, any non-woody plant; (2) a plant with culinary or officinal properties.