Why do you put Tilak?
Tilak is a traditional mark to identify devotees of Krishna. Tilak is made with sacred clay from a holy place in India, and it marks the body as a temple.
It is worn to remind the wearer, and everyone else, that within the body resides the individual soul and the Supreme Soul, Krishna.
It is a stamp of Lord Krishna’s lotus feet and His great devotee Tulasi on one’s body declaring that this body is the property of Krishna and should be used in His service only.
What are those beads around your neck?
The neck beads that Krishna devotees wear are meant to symbolize submission to God. They serve to remind the person wearing them and those who see them that we are all servants of God, or Krishna.
The beads are made from Tulasi wood (basil plant). Although Tulasi appears in the material world as a plant, she is a great devotee of Krishna. So by wearing Tulasi beads, we please Krishna.
Q. Why do you worship Tulasi plant?
A. Worshiping Krishna’s devotees is an essential feature of devotion to Him. Sometimes great devotees appear in forms other than the human form. One such devotee, whose worship is central to the worship of Krishna, is Tulasi. She serves Krishna in the form of a plant, and devotees worship her in that form. Full of love for Krishna, she can give it to others.
Srimad-Bhagavatam (3.15.19) explains the special position of the Tulasi plant: “Although there are numerous flowering plants full of transcendental fragrance in the spiritual realm, they are aware that Tulasi is given special preference by the Lord, who garlands Himself with Tulasi leaves.”
In her form as a plant, Tulasi always stays at the Lord’s feet and around His neck. (Her leaves and flowers decorate His feet and are strung into garlands to be worn around His neck.) The Vedic scriptures say, “Krishna gives Himself to a devotee who offers Him merely a Tulasi leaf and a palmful of water.”
The wood of dead Tulasi plants is used to carve sacred beads devotees wear around their necks and use for chanting the Hare Krishna mantra.