Pooja flowers and Dasapushpams
Tulasi (Holy Basil - Ocimum tenuiflorum)
Tulasi is the most used pooja flower in Kerala temples. The name Tulasi means the incomparable one. A number of passages in the Puranas and other scriptures (Vedas), point to the importance of Tulasi within religious worship. Puranas like Vishnu Purana, Bhagavatha Purana, Devi Bhagavatha Purana and Padma Purana explains the glory and worshipp protocols of Tulasi in detail. Tulasi is regarded as a goddess and a consort of Lord Vishnu. Tulasi is worshipped as Tulasi Devi or Vrinda Devi. In Kerala, a household is considered incomplete if it doesn't have a Tulasithara. The month of Karthika (October-November) is famous for Tulasi pooja. Three different types of Tulasi are used in temples. They are Rama Tulasi with stems and leaves of green, Krishna Tulasi with stems and sometimes also leaves of dark green, and Karppoora Tulasi with the smell of camphor. Kattu (Vana) Tulsai (Ocimum gratissimum) the wild form, is not used for poojas. All these types are used in Ayurveda. Tulasi exhibits great variation across its range. Variations in soil type and rainfall may also equate to a difference in the size and form of the plants as well as their medicinal strength and efficacy. Puranas mentions that pooja without the use of Thulasi is incomplete and hence worthless. To know more about Tulasi click here
Koovalam - Vilwam, Shivadruma, Tripatra (Aegle marmelos)
Koovalam is a sacred tree to Hindus. The leaves of Koovalm are mainly used in Shiva temples. It is used while offering prayers to Lord Shiva. Koovalam leaves resembles like the three eyes of Lord Shiva, hence got the name Tripatra. Puranas like Shiva Purana, Skanda Purana, Devi Bhagavatha Purana and Padma Purana explains the glory and worshipp protocols of this tree in detail. It is planted in the premises of temples. It is related to citrus and has many names in India. Koovalam (kuvalam) or vilwmam are Malayalam names, while Bel or bael in Hindi, Kuvalum in Tamil, and Kumbala in Kannada. They are also known as golden apple, stone apple and such names in English. It is believed that Lord Shiva is present in this sacred tree. Koovalam wood is used for making Yupam in Yagams like Somayagam and Athirathram. It grows in almost all climatic conditions in wilderness. The tree is slow growing and reaches a maximum height of 8-9 meters. The pale green leaves are aromatic. The fruits can be oval or spherical and has the size of a large orange. Koovalam fruits are edible. People eat it either raw or make a good jam. Lakshmi Devi wears the fruit of Koovalm in her right hand. Hence this tree is also called Sreephalam. Koovalam fruit has astringent properties and regulate digestive functioning. It is also used in curing diarrhea and dysentery. To know more about Koovalam click here
Thamara (Lotus - Nelumbo nucifera)
Thamara flowers are used in all temples. They are commonly used for special poojas like Sahasrakalasam, Ashtabandhakalasam and Laksharchana. Lotus has different names in Sanskrit. Some of them are Padmam, Nalinam, Aravindam, Kamalam and Pankajam. Lotus is associated with the gods Vishnu, Brahma, and the goddesses Lakshmi and Sarasvati. From ancient times the lotus has been a divine symbol in Hindu tradition. It is often used as an example of divine beauty, for example Sri Krishna is often described as the Lotus-Eyed One. Its unfolding petals suggest the expansion of the soul. The growth of its pure beauty from the mud of its origin holds a benign spiritual promise. Particularily Brahma and Lakshmi, the divinities of potence and wealth, have the lotus symbol associated with them. In Hindu iconography, deities often are depicted with lotus flowers as their seats. Thamaramala (lotus garland) is the main offering in Koodalmanikya Swami Temple. To know more about Thamara click here
Chethi, Thechi or Thetti (Ixora coccinea)
Techi flower is commonly used in all temples. The flowers are found in a wide range of colours. Red, white and yellow ixora flowers are commonly used in Hindu worship. The Thechi undamala (thechi garland) of Guruvayoor Temple is famous. Only Thechi flowers are used for Poomoodal in Kadampuzha Bhagavthy Temple. It is also called as the Jungle Geranium, Flame of the Woods, and Jungle Flame.
Chemparathy (Hibiscus rosasinensis)
In Sanskrit it is called Japakusumam. More than 10000 varieties of Chemparthy exists in the world. The red coloured Chemparathy flowers are usually used in Devi temples, especially in Bhadrakali temples. Light coloured flowers (white, rose, purple, yellow and orange) are used for the poojas of other deities. To know more about Chemparathy click here
Nandyarvattam is used in every temples. The flowers of Nandyarvattam are white in colour. Two different forms - idampiri and valampiri are used in temples. Nandyarvattam is used for Saraswathy pooja.
Shankhupushpam or Aparajitha (Butterfly pea - Clitoria ternatea)
The Malayalam word Shankhupushpam means a conch shaped flower. Butterfly pea is a deep-rooted, tall slender, climbing legume with five leaflets and a deep blue flower. Even though its origins are unknown, it is probably native to Asia according to Hortus. Shankhupushpam in two different colours - white and blue are used in temples. Blue Shankhupushpam is used for Sastha (Ayyappa)pooja. It's root is used in many Ayurvedic medicines. To know more about Shankhupushpam click here
Thumpa (Leucas aspera)
Thumpa flowers are very small and are white in color. They are used for Shiva pooja as well as Thrikkakkarayappa pooja on Onam day. Thumpa mala (thumpa garland) is an important offering in Kottiyoor temple.
Ashokam (Saraca Indica)
Ashoka is a Sanskrit word meaning without grief or that which gives no grief. The Hindus regard it as sacred, being dedicated to Kama Deva, God of Love. One of its varieties is a very handsome, small, erect evergreen tree, with deep green foliage. Its flowers are very fragrant and are bright orange-yellow in color and later turn red. Its beautiful, delicately perfumed flowers are used in temple decoration.
Arali (Nerium indicum or Nerium oleander)
Arali is available in three different colours - rose, white and red. Though the flowers make great visual display, they are also highly poisonous. They are commonly used for making garlands.
Mulla (Jasmine - Jasminum grandiflorum)
In Sanskrit it is called Mallika. Jasmine is known as the queen of flowers. The plant is known for the sweet fragrance of little milky-white flowers. Jasmine is used as religious offerings symbolizing divine hope. They are held sacred to Vishnu and are used as votive offerings in religious ceremonies. Jasmine is a climbing vine with oval, shiny leaves and tubular, waxy-white flowers. The small white star-shaped flowers are picked at night when the aroma is most intense, so that the delicate aroma will not evaporate in the sun.
Chempakam (Michelia champaca)
Flowers of Chempakam is usually yellow or white in colour. But there are other colours too. Only the white and yellow coloured flowers are used for poojas in Devi temples. It is not used in Shiva temples.
The flower of Erikku is mainly used in Shiva temples. It is not used in Vishnu temples.
Kanakambaram (Firecracker flower - Crossandra infundibuliformis)
Kanakambaram or Firecracker flower is not widely used in Kerala temples for poojas but occassionaly used for decorating the temple during festivals. It is available in orange and salmon or yellow colours. Kanakam means gold. It iswidely used for making garlands along with Jasmine.
Vadamalli (Gomphrena globosa)
Vadamalli is used for decorating the temple during festivals. It is available in pink and white colors. The conelike flowerheads are beautiful in dried arrangements and will hold their shape and color indefinitely. Hence they are used for making big garlands.
Rajamalli (Peacock flower - Caesalpinia Pulcherrima)
Rajamalli flowers are red, orange and yellow with long red stamens. It is called Ratnagundhi colloquially. Very rarely used in temples.
The common Marigold is familiar to everyone, with its pale-green leaves and golden orange flowers. The color of Chendumally range from lemon, yellow, bright yellow, golden to orange. They are very much used in making garlands for temple decoration.
Jamanthi (Chrysanthemum - Corn Marigold)
There are more than 30 types of Chrysanthemum flowers. In South India the yellow Chrysanthemum is famous as Jamanthi and are widely used for making garlands.To know more about Chrysanthemum click here
Pichakam or Pichi
Pichi flowers are white in color. They are small in size with good aroma and are used in Vishnu Temples.
Mandaram flowers are white in color and are used in all temples for poojas.
Kamukkin pookkula or flower of Aracanut tree is used for Nagadeva pooja and Kalamezhuthu. They are also used for making Palppayasam in temples like Kalampookkavu Devi temple.
Dasa Pushpam (10 flowers)
Dasa Pushpam means a group of 10 flowers. But we use leaves of most of these plants. Dasa Pushpams are used for Sheepothi Vekkal ritual in Karkkidakam, Pathirappoochoodal ritual on Thiruvathira in Dhanu, important cerimonies like marriage and for pithru karma.
1.Karuka (Cyndon dactylon)
Karuka or Durva is widely used for Ganapathy pooja. For children with problems in Childhood in their horoscope Karuka Homa is the sure shot cure for the Balarishta yoga in the horoscope. Karuka is not used for Durga pooja.
2.Mukkutti (Biophytum Sensitivum)
Mukkutti or Viparitalajjalu (in Sanskrit) is a very small flowering plant. Each plant produces five to ten small flowers with yellow petals. Mukkutti is an important flower for the people of Kerala. The flower is used in athapoo, special floral formation that adores courtyards and public places during Onam, the national festival of Kerala. Mukkutti flowers and plants are used for making garlands in Ganapathy temples. Mukkutty pushpanjali is an important offering in Malliyoor Mahaganapathy temple. Mukkutty is also used for making mukkuttychanthu during Thiruvathira fesival.
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