Neem Tree, which is known as ‘Azadirachta Indica’ in terms of botany, is known as the “Free Tree of India”. This is because of its name being derived from ‘Azad’ which means free and ‘dirachta’ meaning tree. It belongs to the Mahagony family Meliaceae and is generally found in the Indian subcontinent, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Srilanka, Maldives, and Bangladesh. It typically grows in tropical and subtropical regions around the height of 50-60 feet and hardly goes up to 120 feet. It is an evergreen tree and its fruits, seeds, leaves, flowers, and barks are being used in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, insect repellents and medicinal cures.
Neem as a Medicine
In India, the leaves of Neem are dried and placed in cupboards in order to prevent the insects eating the clothes and placed in tins so to save rice from insects. They are also dried and burnt so as to keep mosquitoes away in tropical regions. Neem has a tradition in India to treat various viral diseases. According to doctors, a paste made with Neem leaves and applied on infected areas can cure chicken pox, small pox, and burns. This happens due to the absorbing nature of Neem leaves which absorbs the virus protecting the unaffected cells to be affected by this virus. Ayurveda and Siddha practitioners believe that Neem leaves are Anthelmintic, antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, antidiabetic, contraceptive, and sedative.
It is a major component in Ayurvedic medicines and is prescribed mainly for skin diseases such as eczema, psoriasis, etc. The oil made from Neem leaves is used for healthy and blackening of hair, to improve functionary of the liver, to detoxify the blood and balance blood sugar levels. Powdered Neem leaves mixed with water in order to obtain paste can cure various eye diseases when applied on eyes.
Neem leaves improve the function of the respiratory system, immune system and improve digestive health
by removing unwanted toxins in the blood. One should know that Neem leaves do not directly attack insects on the crop but act as an antifeedant, repellant protecting the crop from being damaged. Neem oil is used for preparing cosmetics such as soap, shampoo, balms, and creams. The Neem tree is also of great importance due to its anti-desertification property and as a good carbon dioxide sink. It is also used in India for cosmetic purposes such as facial cream, nail polish and many more.
Neem’s association with Festivals of India
In the Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka it is very famous for their use in ‘Uggadi Pachhadi’, which is made on ‘Ugadi’ day. During ‘Gudi Padva’, which is the New year in the state of Maharashtra, the ancient.
The practice of drinking a small quantity of Neem juice or paste on that day before celebrating it is found to be done. In the southern state of India, Tamil Nadu during the summer months, the ‘Mariamman temple festival’ is a thousand-year-old tradition. The Neem leaves and flowers are the major parts of the Mariamman festival. The statue of the goddess Mariamman is garlanded with Neem leaves and flowers. In Odisha, the famous Jagannath temple’ deities are made up of Neem heartwood along with some other essential oils and powders. Neem was also declared as the ‘National Tree of Hyderabad’.