A towering tulsi tree with a Mahabharata twist!

Gandhinagar, May 21 (Calcutta Tube) It’s the same old tulsi that’s found and worshipped in Indian households. But unlike the usual plant that is 30-60 cm tall, this one has a towering height of 11 ft and is part of legend.

Situated in Narola village in Banaskantha district on the border of Rajasthan, the rare tree attracts thousands of devotees, especially during the bright half of lunar month.

According to Deputy Forest Conservator (Banaskantha) D.M. Patel, folklore has it that this tulsi tree was planted by the Pandavas or perhaps their mother Kunti, who have all been immortalised in the Indian epic Mahabharata.

Lakhiram Lubharam Sudhu, the priest who supervises the rituals and prayers at the site, said the area was known as Hedamba-Van, some 5,200 years ago. Kunti planted a branch of tulsi believing its fresh green leaves would indicate the good state of her sons while the wilting leaves would indicate that the Pandavas were in grief.

People started worshiping this tree over 100 years ago after Rajaramji Maharaj of Sikarpur in Rajasthan had a ‘miraculous’ experience while resting near the tree. While no one today remembers exactly what the experience was, the tree is now part of legend.

Ever since, people have come here to offer prayers, especially on the auspicious occasions of Ekadashi and Kartiki Purnima as per the Hindu calendar.

The tulsi, or holy basil, has always been known for its medicinal values and this tree, in particular is a source of household remedies for locals.

H.S. Singh, additional principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF), social forestry, Gujarat, attributes the unique height of the tulsi tree to genetic aberration.

‘It happens to humans, animals, birds… so it is with plants. It is like a human being, who gains extra height, or a crow that may be white in colour. It is just that one does not know which genetic marker will dominate,’ he points out.

S.K. Nanda, principal secretary, forests and environment, Gujarat, told IANS: ‘Tulsi is a bio-mass that cleans the air. We need to see if we can replicate the 11-foot tulsi strain in other parts of the state. Who knows, tulsi trees with a longer life cycle may evolve from this strain.’

(R.K. Misra can be contacted at rk.misra@ians.in)

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