The Hindus regard Tulsi plant(Basil) very sacred,as it is beleived to be the incarnation of Mata Mahalaxmi who was born as Vrinda.Tulsi is venerated as a goddess in Hinduism.She is often referred to as Vishnupriya, the beloved of Lord Vishnu and also considered as a wife of Lord Vishnu.
Tulsi vivah is celebrated on the next day of Kartiki Akadashi(November).The festival of Tulsi Vivah is celebrated in many households of Goa and Maharashtra.
It is the ceremonial marriage of the Tulsi plant with Lord Vishnu.This ceremony is performed any time between the eleventh lunar day of the bright fortnight of the Hindu month Kartik(Prabodhini Ekadashi) to the full moon of the month (Kartik Poornima).Generally it is performed on the eleventh or the twelfth lunar day,which varies from place to place .
The Tulsi Vivah signifies the end of the monsoon season and begining of the Hindu wedding season.
On this day deliceous sweet dishes are prepared at home which the house ladies start well in advance.A parcel of sweets called 'Ojhe' is sent to the married daughter alongwith the 'Waati'(cotton threads used for lighting the ghee-lamps)On this auspiceous day the tulsivrindavan is painted and decorated as a bride.Sugarcane and branches of Tamarind and Amla trees are planted along with the tulsi plant.In the noon, a 'Naivedya'(food offering) is offered to TulsiVrindavan.
The Naivedya is made up of rice, puri, kheer of sweet potato,red pumpkin vegetable cooked with the pieces of sugarcane,amla and tamarind.Tulsi vivah ceremony takes place in the late evening.Various poha dishes are offered to Lord Vishnu.Then 'Prasad' is given to the family members and friends.
This occasion falls soon after Diwali,hence the people mentain the Diwali decorations and lighting till the end of Tulsi Vivah.Lot of fire crackers are burned by the people .
The Tulsi Plant (Basil)
It is believed that the soul of Vrinda exists in the plant at night and leaves in the morning.The bride Tulsi is clad in a sari with ornaments like ear-rings and necklaces.Sometimes a picture of a human paper face with a bindi and nose ring is attached to theTulsi plant.
Lord Vishnu or Krishna,is the groom,as a brass image or picture or more frequently the Shaligram stone.The image is clad in a dhoti.Both Vishnu and Tulsi are given a sacred bath and decorated with flowers and garlands. Later,both of them are linked with a cotton thread.Then the main ceremony begins.A white cloth(Antarpat) is held between the bride and the groom and the priest chants the "Mangal Ashtaka" Mantras formally complete the wedding.
"Akshatas" (Rice mixed with vermilion) are showered by the attendees on the couple at the end of the last mantra with the word "Savadhan" ("be careful new life starts now).The white curtain between the couple is also taken off.The attendees show their approval to the wedding by applause.Lord Vishnu is offered sandalwood-paste,sacred threads and clothings.Tulsi is offered a sari,turmeric,vermilion and a Mangal-sutra,a necklace worn by married women.
This ceremony is mostly performed by women.The 'Prasad' of coconut,sugar-cane, coconut,fruits and groundnut is distributed to the attendees. Generally,the wedding cermony is performed at the cost of a couple who doesn't have a daughter and they act as the parents of Tulsi in the wedding rituals.The 'Bidai' of the daughter Tulsi (kanyadaan) to Vishnu or Krishna is considered as meritorious for the couple.
In two of Saurashtra(India) temples, the ceremony is more ceremonial.An invitation card is sent to the groom's temple by the bride's temple.On Prabodhini Ekadashi,a bridal procession of "Lalji" an image of Vishnu sets off to the bride's temple.
Lalji in a palanquin is accompanied by singing and dancing by the devotees.The 'barat' is welcomed on the outskirts of Tulsi's village and the ceremonial marriage is performed at the temple. At the bride's side, Tulsi is planted in an earthen pot for the ceremony.
Couples anxious for children perform the Kanyadaan ritual from Tulsi's side,as her parents.Bhajans are sung throughout the night and in the morning the barat of Lalji returns to their village with Tulsi.Loud music is played with the burning of fire-crackers,throughout the night.
The legend behind Tulsi Vivah and its rites are told in the scripture Padma Purana.The Tulsi plant was a woman named Vrinda, a synonym of Tulsi.She was married to the demon-king Jalandhar. Tulsi was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu.Her husband,Jalandhar was very powerful and unbeatable,to the extent that Lord Shiva also could not defeat Jalandhar.
So Shiva requested Lord Vishnu to find a way out and get relief.To this request,Vishnu disguised himself as her husband, Jalandhar and violated Vrinda and Jalandhar was killed by Shiva.The angry Vrinda cursed Vishnu to become black incolour and be separated from his wife.
Thus, he was transformed into the black Shaligram stone.Vrinda then burnt herself on her husband's funeral pyre,immolating herself due to the shame.From
her body the Tulsi plant got emerged.
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