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Why neem tree and its leaves are associated with Hindu Goddess?

Neem tree and its leaves are associated with various Hindu Goddess especially Durga, Kali, Karumariamman, Mariamman and other manifestations of Mother Goddess Shakti. Neem leaves are widely used in the worship, puja, festivals and rituals associated with Hindu Goddesses especially in South India. So Why is neem tree and it leaves associated with Goddess Shakti.

The popular belief is that Mother Goddess resides in Neem tree and its leaves have the power to cure diseases and drive away all evils.

There are stories in rural South India that indicate that Mother Goddess residing in neem tree stopped Yama, the god of death, from taking away the life of human beings devoted to her.

Neem tree is widely found in the front or within the vicinity of many Shakti Temples in South India.

Neem leaves are also used to cure Chicken pox and other skin diseases.

Nabapatrika in Durga Puja– Photos of Nine leaves worshipped during Durga Puja