Once we hear the word Tulasi, Holy Basil ,we remember two major things - one its great medicinal value and the other a holy plant kept at home and worshipped. The courtyards of Hindu houses have a special structure to house the tulasi plant. It is called the tulasi maadam. There are many interesting stories about this plant.
It has been said that when the gods and the demons (the Devas and the Asuras) churned the Ocean of Milk, to obtain nectar, the tulasi plant emerged from it.
Once when the King of Gods, Indra, angered Lord Shiva. Shiva's anger fell as a tongue of fire into the sea, and changed into a demon. The King of the Seas, Lord Varuna, adopted this demon and named him Jalandharaa. Jalandharaa proved to be a staunch devotee of Lord Shiva. And in due course, married Kalanemi's daughter Brinda. He was also granted a boon that whenever the moment Brinda ceased to be a chaste wife, Jalandharaa would meet his doom. Jalandharaa,true to his demoniac nature, started harassing the Gods.
None could vanquish him, except his Creator, Lord Shiva. One fine day they met on the battlefield and engaged in a fiery battle, but Jalandharaa proved to be very strong. To vanquish him, Lord Vishnu disguised as Jalandharaa, spent the night with Brinda. In this way, the Asura was destroyed.
Brinda was incensed at this deception; she cursed Vishnu that in a future incarnation, he would be cruelly separated from his wife and he would live on earth as a shapeless stone(shaaligraama). Brinda immolated herself on her husband's funeral pyre and was reborn as a tulasi plant. Since she was a staunch devotee of Vishnu, it is said that she became his wife in this birth.
Tulasi also symbolises Goddess Lakshmi, the consort of Lord Vishnu. Those who wish to be righteous and have a happy family life worship the tulasi.
Tulasi is married to the Lord with all pomp and 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 Rukmini placed a single tulasi leaf along with the wealth on the scale with devotion. Thus the tulasi 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.
Tulasi, the two varieties famous are the Green leaved (Lakshmi Tulasi) & Purple leaved (Krishna Tulasi) has medicinal and mythological power, as believed.
The four months which span the days of August to November are known as Chathur Masyam or the four months of fasting. It is during this time that the tulasi is specially worshipped.
A few Tulasi leaves taken daily keeps us healthy. It cures fever, common cold, coughs, kidney stone, headaches, insect bites, cancer, heart related diseases, helps in good digestion and reduces stress and acidity problem. It also purifies the surrounding environment.