In India, one plant you are bound to find in most of the Hindu homes is the holy basil. Commonly known as Tulsi, the plant is a very important and strong symbol of the Hindu community. Many Hindu mythologies, like the Gita and the Puranas, liken the Tulsi tree with various Indian Gods and Goddesses. As such, having a Tulsi plant at home is considered very auspicious. In the Sanskrit language, the term 'Tulsi' means "the incomparable one". In our country, two different forms of the Tulsi plants are found, the dark 'Shyama' Tulsi and the light 'Rama' Tulsi.
There are numerous mentions of the Tulsi in the stories, folklore and the quotes in the Indian mythologies. As per one such story, Tulsi was actually a gopi who was madly and truly in love with Lord Krishna. The plant also finds mention in many stories related to the famous Krishna devotee, Mirabai. The significance of Tulsi is sketched out in one tale, in which Krishna was weighed in gold and even the entire jewelry of His consort, Satyabhama, could not outweigh Him, until a Tulsi was placed on the other scale.
As per the Indian tradition, it is mandatory that all those people who plant Tulsi in their homes to take proper care of it. You may also find many people worshipping the Tulsi plant. It is regarded as Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth and the consort of Lord Vishnu. Devotees offer a garland of its leaves to the Lord as part of the daily ritual. Due to time constraint, many people may simply offer water to the plant once or twice a day and place a diya under it. Tulasi occupies the sixth position amongst the eight objects needed for worship in Hindu rituals.
If there is a Tulsi plant in a home, it reflects the religious bent of mind of the family members. Infact, a specific tubular shaped structure is often built in a specific corner of the house to plant Tulsi. Many religious people wear garlands made out of its stems. The manufacture of Tulasi necklaces takes place in the form of a cottage industry in places of pilgrimage and temple towns. Another name for Tulsi, within the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition, is Vrindadevi, meaning Goddess of Vrindavan'.
Known by the name of Holy Basil in English, the leaves of the Tulsi plant have medicinal properties and have long been known to be used in the treatment of various sicknesses. Tulsi is considered to be an adaptogen, balancing different processes in the body, and helpful for adapting to stress. The juice of its leaves is used for treating cough, cold, headaches, stomach disorders, inflammation and other illnesses. Tulsi leaves are very aromatic, so some people like to add them to their tea to get a unique flavor.