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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.

Neem is used by Hindus to  treat inflammation, infections, skin diseases and for dental care. The Neem leaves, flowers, seeds, roots, bark and fruits contain antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiviral, antihistamine and antiseptic properties.

The Neem tree is a symbol of health, beauty and hope in Hinduism. It is evergreen even during the summer season. It provides cooling shade to people, animals and all living beings. It is natural repellant and therefore keeps out all kinds of unwanted bugs. Seeds, oil, leaves, flowers, fruits, roots and bark are used in India from time immemorial.

Neem leaf is used as a beauty product and it is also an excellent antiseptic.

It is also an excellent food for the livestocks.

It is also an excellent fertilizer.

Neem Tree Leaves Offering To Goddess Mariamman

During festivals dedicated to Mariamman, devotees will decorate either themselves or the gifts they give to the goddess with neem leaves, which is sacred to her. Frequently a three-pronged post from the neem tree will be erected outside her shrine, sometimes understood to be an aniconic image of the husband whom she killed.

The use of neem leaves as protection from the heat is one of many instances of the alternations between the colours red and green, suggesting the ambivalent nature of a goddess associated with both red heat and green coolness.

When serious illness attributed to Mariamman occurs in the home, the afflicted person can be treated
as the physical embodiment of the goddess. The home becomes a quasi-temple and it is decorated
with neem leaves.

When a person is possessed by Goddess Mariamman, the person holds a neem branch.

Goddess Mariamman is worshipped throughout villages in Tamil Nadu and in parts of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

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