Tulsi Vivaha

Tulsi Vivah Festival

The Hindus follow many customs that are rooted since the creation of the universe. It is strange and pleasing to see that time factor has not diminished the essence of festivals. Moreover, India takes pride in its tradition. No wonder stones, statues, animals, trees and plants are so adored by people even today. One can see and feel the intensity of their belief through the Tulsi Vivaha, which means the marriage of Tulsi, which is a basil plant.

Tulsi is a sacred plant for Hindus. This plant is exalted not only for its connection with Lord Vishnu and Goddess Mahalaxmi, but also for its medicinal and healing properties. No Hindu home is complete with having the Tulsi plant in the courtyard. Every Hindu woman offers prayer to this holy plant regularly, except during the menstrual period. The leaves of this plant are so sacred that they are used to consecrate the offerings to the god.

Tulsi Vivavha is the marriage ceremony of Lord Vishnu with the Tulsi plant. It is conducted in the Kartik month according to the Hindu calendar. It comes on the the eleventh or twelfth lunar day. And it indicates the end of monsoon and the start of the Hindu wedding season.

Legend of Tulsi Vivaha

Tulsi is called Vishnupriya, which means the beloved of Vishnu. According to Padma Purana, it is an incarnation of a woman called Vrinda. She was a consort of a demon king called Jalandhar. She was an ardent devotee of Vishnu and wished that her husband be granted with immense power. The Lord has to sanction her wishes seeing her devotion. However, granting of wishes turned her husband invincible. This made it difficult for the other gods in defeating him. Lord Shiva also had his limitations because of Visnu's blessings.

Therefore, the responsibility to destroy Jalandhar rests on Lord Vishnu. However, it was not an easy task to kill a husband so strongly guarded by his wife's fidelity and faith. The only way Vishnu saw it appropriate was by destroying the chastity of Vrinda so that her husband will lose all the power bestowed upon him. Finally, Vishnu succeeded in his mission by disguising himself as Jalandhar, who eventually gets killed by the hands of Lord Shiva.

After knowing the ghastly trick played by the god she devoted her life to, she cursed Vishnu that he will never be able to stay with his wife happily and for a longer time. Her curse even turns Vishnu into a black stone called Saaligram. To get out of the guilt of cheating her husband, Vrinda performed sati on her husband's pyre. Vishnu then transferred her soul into the basil plant and promise to marry her in her new birth. Hence, Tulsi Vivaha is remembered and celebrated to perform the wedding ceremony between Lord Vishnu and Tulsi.

Tulsi Vivaha Celebration

This festival is celebrated in a traditional Hindu marriage style. It is conducted in temples and households. Women fast for the day and break it upon the ending of the marriage ceremony. Tent is erected with canopies in front of the house. Women from the locality gather at one place where they keep all the Tulsi plants planted in a vase. A priest is also called to perform the marriage rituals. To decorate the stage where the wedding is to be performed, branches of sugar cane and tamarind are used as pillars.

The bride, Tulsi is covered with red sari. She is also decorated with necklaces, bangles and earrings just like a girl would do her makeup during her marriage. To give it the look of a girl, a face is prepared with the help of white paper. A red bindi worn at the centre of the head above the eyebrows by girls is also stuck to the face. Then a photo or an idol of Lord Vishnu, the groom, is placed next to the bride. The groom is then covered with a white dhoti. Both the bride and groom are given a bath before the wedding ceremony. Flower garlands are then placed on both of them as the priest keeps reciting the wedding mantra. A cotton thread is used to link the couple. Vegetable foods from all the households participating in the wedding ceremony is brought as prasad. It is distributed among all the people invited. Rice, puri, sweet potato, kheer, and red pumpkin vegetable are offered to the couple.

Tulsi Vivaha is usually conducted during the evening time. In places where people could not gather under one single mandap, the wedding is conducted at home and the family members participate in it. In Saurashtra, this ceremony is held with elaborate details. Wedding cards are printed and given to the temples of the groom. A marriage procession, barat, is also held and the wedding is solemnized in the temple.