INDIA. Mumbai: “Tulsi Vivah”, the ceremonial marriage of the “Tulsi” plant (holy basil) to Lord Vishnu or his Krishna Avatar, was performed on Wednesday with traditional rituals in households and temples across Mumbai, and other parts of Maharashtra.
At the ceremony organized at Shree Swami Samarth Mandir in Andheri West i.e., North West Mumbai, the devotees assembled in large numbers to offer prayers and participate in the ceremony. The team of priests led by Mahesh Natekar performed the rituals.
For the Tulsi Vivah, the temple was illuminated with electric decorative string lights and a huge attractive rangoli was drawn in the temple complex.
The legend of Tulsi Vivah
The Tulsi Vivah is performed between “Prabodhini Ekadashi”, which is the eleventh lunar day of the bright fortnight of the Hindu month “Kartik” to the full moon of the month (Kartik Poornima). On this occasion, the Tulsi plant is decorated with sugarcane and marigold flowers.
It is believed that the soul of “Vrinda” resides in the plant at night and leaves in the morning.
According to a legend, Tulsi was a woman named “Vrinda” who was married to a demon king “Jalandhar.” Jalandhar’s devotion to Lord Vishnu made him invincible and even lord Shiva could not control the demon king. Lord Shiva sought Vishnu’s help, who disguised as “Jalandhar” and tricked Vrinda and violated her. With her chastity destroyed, Jalandhar lost his power after which Vrinda cursed Vishnu to become black in colour (Shaligram stone) and to be separated from his wife Devi Lakshmi.
Vrinda then drowned herself in the ocean and Lord Vishnu transferred her soul to a plant, and ever since came to be worshipped as Tulsi. As salvation, Vishnu agreed to marry Vrinda in her next birth. Accordingly, Vishnu in the form of “Shaligram” (the sacred stone used to worship Vishnu in an abstract form) got married to Tulsi on “Prabodhini Ekadashi”. The Tulsi Vivah ritual is performed to commemorate this event.
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Tulsi holds a very sacred place in Indian households as most of the women worship the plant daily, particularly in rural areas. As goes down in mythological history, on the day of Tulsi Vivah, the plant is ceremonially married to Shaligram. The ritual also signifies the return of Lord Vishnu to Vaikuntha (celestial home) after his four-month rest from the kingdom of Bali.
This year the ritual of Tulsi, which began on Monday, will conclude on Friday, marking the end of the Diwali festival and the beginning of the Hindu wedding season. An important ritual in the ceremony is the “Antarpat” (a white cloth) held between the groom (Vishnu) and the bride (Tulsi), with the priest reciting the Mangal Ashtakas. These Mantras which formally complete the wedding are designed to ensure that the couple lives a long and happy life.
At the end of the recitation of the mantras, rice mixed with vermilion is showered by the attendees on the Tulsi and Vishnu, simultaneously, the word “Savadhan” (literally ‘be careful’ implying ‘You are united now’) marks the completion of the Tulsi Vivah. The ceremony is not just restricted to Tulsi and Vishnu, but the legacy of this event is akin to usual wedding ceremonies performed as per Vedic rites.