TULSI VIVAH - SIGNIFICANCE AND CELEBRATIONS
Tulsi Vivah is the solemn marriage of holy Tulsi (basil) plant and Lord Vishnu or his incarnation Lord Krishna. According to the Panchang and Hindu Calendar, this ceremonious celebration is performed in the month of Kartik (Shukla Paksha). The celebrations of Tulsi Marriage begin on the eleventh lunar day i.e. Prabodhini Ekadashi and continue till the full moon night or Kartik Poornima. However, in many parts of India, the festival is celebrated only on eleventh or till the twelfth lunar day. As per the Indian calendar, this festival falls either in October or November.
What is the Significance of Tulsi Vivah?
Tulsi Vivah is considered as one of the most auspicious days in Hindu Calendar. This day marks the beginning of Hindu wedding season in India. Tulsi Vivah Vrat and Puja is done religiously by married women for marital bliss and well being of their husband and children while unmarried women perform it to get married to good husbands.
The holy plant of Tulsi is believed to be the incarnation of Devi Laxmi and this sacred plant is placed in every Hindu household. As per the popular legend, Goddess Tulsi was born as a woman, Vrinda, who got married to an evil king named Jalandhar. She was an ardent devotee of God Vishnu and ceaselessly prayed for her husband's health and long life. As a result, Jalandhar became invincible. Lord Shiva requested Lord Vishnu to weaken Jalandhar's power. So Lord Vishnu took the form of the evil king Jalandhar and deceived Vrinda. Consequent to which Jalandhar became powerless and was killed by Lord Shiva. Vrinda, on knowing the truth, cursed Lord Vishnu and drowned herself in the ocean. Lord Vishnu and other gods placed her soul in the plant which later came to be known as Tulsi. Also, Lord Vishnu married Tulsi in the next birth in the form of Shaligram (black stone) on the day of Prabodhini Ekadashi. This is the reason why Tulsi Vivah is celebrated on this day with such exuberance.
TULSI VIVAH - RITUALS AND CELEBRATIONS
The rituals of Tulsi Marriage with Lord Vishnu resemble the traditions and customs of any Hindu wedding ceremony. It can be performed at temples as well as in homes. On this day, Tulsi Vivah Vrat is kept which can be broken only after ceremonies begin in the evening. Similar to any Hindu marriage, a beautiful 'Mandap' bedecked with flowers and rangoli is created. The beginning of the ceremony is marked with giving a bath to Tulsi plant as well as the idol of Lord Vishnu and adorning them with flowers or garlands. During the ceremony, Tulsi is ornamented similar to a bride with a bright red sari, jewelry and bindi among others. The brass idol of Lord Vishnu or even a Shaligram stone (Lord Vishnu's symbol) is made to don a traditional dhoti. The couple is then linked with a thread for the ceremony. The marriage ceremony can be performed by a priest and also by women of all age groups. The end of the ceremony is marked with devotees showering the couple with vermilion and rice. After the ceremony, 'Prasad' or 'bhog' is distributed to all the devotees present.
This festival is quite lavishly celebrated in Saurashtra region's two Rama temples. The celebrations begin the day when an invitation card is sent by the bride's temple to the groom's temple. On the day of the wedding, a grand baraat or a procession is taken from Lord Vishnu's temple to Goddess Tulsi's temple. The baraat is gladly received by Tulsi's villagers and the ceremony then concludes at the temple with bhajan recitals throughout the night and Lord Vishnu taking Tulsi home the next day. In some places, Tulsi Aarti is also sung after the end of the marriage ceremony.
It is a tradition in some parts that the expenses of the Tulsi Vivah are borne by childless couples or couples without a daughter. They even perform the 'kanyadaan' ceremony on this day. All the bridal offerings are then given to a priest. It is also a common belief that couples who perform the kanyadaan of Goddess Tulsi are soon blessed with a child.