INDIA. Mumbai: ‘Tulsi Vivah’, the ceremonial marriage of the ‘Tulsi’ ( basil plant) to Lord Vishnu or his Avatar Krishna, was performed with traditional fervour in households and temples in Maharashtra, including Mumbai, on Sunday night.
The Tulsi Vivah ritual, which began on Saturday, will conclude on Tuesday, marking the end of the Diwali festival and the beginning of the Hindu wedding season.
At the ceremony organized at Shree Swami Samarth Mandir in Andheri West, in North West Mumbai, the devotees offered prayers and sought God’s blessings.
Chief Priest Mahesh Natekar performed the puja, accompanied by other priests. The ceremony was akin to the usual wedding ceremonies of Hindu families performed as per Vedic rites.
The temple complex was gaily decorated with flowers and electric string lights. Besides, a huge attractive rangoli was drawn.
In neighbouring Thane, a skit gives a message that the basil plant gives out oxygen for 20 of the 24 hours in a day. It also absorbs harmful gases like carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and sulphur dioxide was enacted as part of the 15th Konkan Mahotsav.
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 the occasion, the Tulsi (a manifestation of the goddess Lakshmi) is decorated with sugarcane and marigold flowers. Like usual Hindu weddings, an ‘Antarpat’ (a white cloth) is held between the groom Vishnu (symbolised by the Shaligram stone, a non-anthropomorphic representation of Vishnu) and the bride (Tulsi), with the priest reciting the ‘Mangalashtak’ mantras.
Rice mixed with vermilion is showered by the attendees on the Tulsi and on Vishnu at the end of the recitation of the mantras with the word “Savadhan” (literally “be careful, you are united now”).
As per Hindu mythology, Tulsi was a woman named Vrinda who was married to a demon king, Jalandhar, who, due to devotion to Vishnu, became invincible, and even lord Shiva could not control him. As such, Lord Shiva sought Vishnu’s help. Vishnu in turn, 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 a counter move, Vishnu agreed to marry Vrinda in her next birth. Accordingly, Vishnu married Tulsi on ‘Prabodhini Ekadashi’. Tulsi Vivah is performed to commemorate this event.
It is believed that the soul of Vrinda resides in the plant at night and leaves in the morning.
Tulsi holds a very prominent place in the Hindu households and the plant is worshipped daily, especially in rural areas. The tradition of planting at least one basil sapling in/near the house is followed even in urban areas.