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Neem Tree


Botanical Name Azadirachta indica A. Juss.
Common NameNeem or Margosa, Nimb (Hindi), Vembu (Tamil),

Distribution

Throughout India

Lord Jagannatha of Puri


Religious association

The neem tree is one of the most sacred plants to the Hindus and is worshipped reverently throughout India. People believe the tree to be a manifestation of Goddess Durga. In some parts, the tree itself is believed to be a Goddess called Neemari Devi. The Gujjar tribes of Rajasthan venerate the tree as ‘Neem Narayan’.

Neem is also associated with Goddess Sitala Devi in north India and Mariamman in south India– the deity who can cause or cure small-pox. The customary treatment of the disease is to rub the affected person with neem leaves, while praying to Goddess Sitala. In Tamilnadu, during the summer months people walk several kilometers carrying pots of water mixed with turmeric and neem leaves to ward off illnesses. The tree is also sacred to Manasadevi, the queen of the serpents, for protecting people from snake bites.

Uses

Neem has played a very important role in Ayurvedic medicines since ancient times. A paste of the leaf along with turmeric is applied on eruptions of small pox, viral infections, itching soles, cracks in the heels and for boils and burns. Ripe fruit destroys worms in the stomach.

The wood is used for carving images of the Gods, toys, agricultural implements, carts, boards and panels. Neem cake is an excellent cattle feed.

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