The beliefs and traditions of a culture is of no doubts represented by their perception of nature and the way their view and behave towards it. In Durban almost every Hindu household contain a Tulsi or Indian Basil plant. The importance of the Tulsi plant lies in its healing properties and a belief carried over by the Indian settlers in Durban regarding the plant as a deity. It normally thrives in the tropic and warmer regions. It is planted outside the home and is worshipped both in the morning when the sun rises and in the evening when the sun sets. The devotees generally water the plant as he or she says a prayer by reciting holy mantras. Mantras are the calling of deity’s names in Hinduism. Since the plant is regarded as a deity, women when they menstruate are not allowed to go near the plant. There are two types of the plant, the dark Tulsi and the light Tulsi which is popular for its medicinal properties. The botanical name for the Tulsi plant is ocimum tenuiflorum or ocimum sanctum, the sacred Basil.
Mythology of the Tulsi plant
Hindus worship the Tulsi plant as the Goddess Lakshmi, who is the consort of Lord Vishnu the Creator. During prayers or pooja as it is referred to in the Hindu language, they offer Tulsi leaves to the feet of Vishnu, as it signifies the offering of love. The deity Lakshmi is the wife of Vishnu and so the offering of Tulsi leaves is the offering of love. There is also folklore of the Tulsi plant; that the plant was actually a princess in her previous birth that was madly and truly in love with Lord Krishna who already had a consort or wife. The consort cursed the princess and as a result of the spell the princess turned into a plant. The significance of Tulsi is also represented in one story, in which Lord Krishna was weighed in gold and even the entire jewelry of his consort could not outweigh Him, until a Tulsi was placed on the other scale. At the Hare Krishna Temple in Chatsworth, south of Durban there is Tulsi plants that are placed outside and is worshipped with the watering of the plant daily.
The healing and medicinal properties of the Tulsi plant
The Tulsi plant also has many healing properties aside from its religious symbolism, making it ideal for worship since it has the ability to heal. The extracts from Tulsi leaves are used in traditional Ayurvedic medicines for common colds, headaches, stomach problems and even heart problems. The juice of its leaves is used for treating cough, cold, headaches, stomach disorders, inflammation and other illnesses. The Tulsi plant also reduces stress, enhances stamina, promotes a healthy metabolism and is a natural immune booster. The Tulsi plant is also used as a repellant for mosquitoes and germs. Whether the Tulsi plant is a belief that it is a medical herb from the creator or not, it still is recognised as an important aspect of the Hindu religion.
By: Yoveshnie Pillay