Tulsi or Tulasi (Ocimum tenuiflorum) is a sacred plant in Hindu belief. Hindus regard it as an earthly manifestation of the goddess Tulsi;, who is regarded as a great worshipper of the god Vishnu.
Many Hindus have tulsi plants growing in front of or near their home, often in special pots or a special masonry structure known as Tulsi Vrindavan. Traditionally, Tulsi is planted in the center of the central courtyard of Hindu houses. The plant is cultivated for religious and medicinal purposes, and for its essential oil.
Tulsi literally means “the incomparable one” and the herb Tulsi lives up to its name.
For centuries, Tulsi has been a prime herb in Ayurvedic treatment, for healing a variety of aliments from the common cold to heart disorder. The leaves are a stress reliever and also sharpen memory.
Tulsi is used as a remedy for cough, cold, sore throat, respiratory disorders, insect bites, skin disorders, teeth disorders, headaches, eye disorders etc.. It reduces the level of blood cholesterol. Tulsi has a strengthening effect on the kidney. It is regarded as an “elixir of life”. Daily consumption of just a few Tulsi leaves is believed to promote longevity.
The Tulsi plant is an important symbol in the Hindu religious tradition. It is, therefore, also referred as the Holy Basil. The Hindu literature including the Vedas and the Puranas have numerous citations regarding the importance of Tulsi in religious ceremonies.
It is said that places ideal for worship and those tend to inspire concentration, are places with a large concentration of Tulsi plants. Most of the Hindu homes have a Tulsi plant in the courtyard. Tulsi is mostly planted in a specially made cubical structure decorated with images of deities and an alcove to place a lamp. This marks the importance of Tulsi in comparison with other plants.
As a goddess who is the consort of Lord Vishnu, Tulsi is regarded very dear to him. A garland made of Tulsi leaves is a valued offering to Vishnu. Tulsi is ceremonially married to Vishnu annually on the eleventh bright day of the month of Kaartika in the lunisolar calendar.