Celebrated in Kartik month, Tulsi Vivah marks the beginning of the wedding season in India. At this festival, a marriage ceremony of the Tulsi plant and Lord Vishnu takes place. It signifies the unification of two souls and the oneness of every soul with the Lord. Tulsi Vivah symbolizes purity and the beauty of marriage which connects two beings. Tulsi is also known by another name Vishnupriya which means the one who is dearest to Lord Vishnu. She is revered in every Hindu home and it is the most sacred plant of all. It is considered to be extremely auspicious to place and worship a Tulsi plant.
The story behind Tulsi Vivah
According to the narration in Padma Purana, the Tulsi plant was a woman who was originally called by the name of “Vrinda”. She was married to an Asura named Jalandhara, the demonic King. Due to Vrinda’s devotedness towards Lord Vishnu, Jalandhara became indestructible and began to invade the world. He also tried to harm the Gods but they could not bring him down. The Gods approached Lord Vishnu to protect and save them from the demon. While Jalandhar was off to the war, Vrinda promised that she would not stop praying until he was victorious. To defeat him, Lord Vishnu came disguised as Jalandhar and as soon as Vrinda saw him, she stopped praying. Because of this, Jalandhar became weak and could not fight any further. Lord Shiva killed him and his head fell right in front of Vrinda. With this, she realized that Lord Vishnu had appeared as Jalandhar. An angered Vrinda cursed Lord Vishnu that He will turn into a stone (later called “Shaligram”) and will be estranged from His consort. Vrinda drowned herself in the sea and Lord Vishnu moved her soul to a plant. This plant came to be known as “Tulsi” and according to a blessing, Lord Vishnu married Tulsi in the next birth.
Tulsi Pooja Vidhi
The puja setup is decorated with sugarcane sticks and a photo frame of Lord Vishnu is established. Items like sweet potato, radish, gooseberries, Singhada (water chestnut), and other seasonal fruits are offered during worship. Mantras are chanted to invoke Lord Vishnu’s presence and further the Tulsi marriage rituals begin. The Pooja Vidhi may differ from region to region as per the various customs of individual communities.
Tulsi Vivah Rituals
Tulsi Vivah is celebrated on a grand scale in the state of Maharashtra. A marriage ceremony for the Tulsi plant is organized in almost every Maharashtrian household and different regions. There is a proper setup for the ceremony with decorations and traditional lighting. Invitation cards are printed and distributed to the people in the surrounding area and neighbors. The Tulsi plant is married to a boy (usually younger boys are a part of this marriage). It is conducted for fun and enjoyment along with religious significance. The Tulsi plant is adorned with a saree and jewelry. A face made of paper or any round object is attached to the plant. It is decorated in such a way that it resembles a fully dressed-up bride. Alongside the Tulsi, another figurine is made which represents the groom, Lord Vishnu. Mangalashtaka is recited exactly like a real marriage as per the Maharashtrian tradition. Everyone at the ceremony enjoys to the fullest. After the marriage, firecrackers are burst and food and other sweets are distributed among everyone present in the ceremony.
In other parts of India like Bihar, Tulsi Vivah is a three-day-long festival starting from Ekadashi to Trayodashi in the Kartik month as per the Hindu calendar. The recitation of Ramcharitmanas is done on the first day where all the villagers gather together. It is a spiritual environment filled with the spirit to celebrate the festival. On the second day, Shobha Yatra is conducted and Prasad is distributed. The third day of this special event is dedicated to Vivahotsav i.e. marriage of Lord Vishnu and Vrinda Devi. It is said that the Tulsi plant is alive with the soul of Vrinda on this day and She leaves on the next day of marriage. Chhappan Bhog is prepared and offered during this ceremony which includes 56 types of food items. Especially, there is a big ritualistic ceremony at Prabhu Dham located in Saunja (towards the southern part of Bihar). Sages and hermits from neighboring villages also visit Saunja to be a part of this occasion.