Chaturmaas has passed, and the festive duration of Diwali will bid us farewell soon; finally, it is the onset of ceremonial unions. “Marriages are made in heaven” — who did wish to deny this realistic concept despite the youth refuses to attribute any importance to the phrase. It is indeed complicated yet very simple to sustain with one another’s temperaments as well as tantrums (Lol). You will agree to the fact that relationships need “labor of love” effort so as to harmoniously live as well as experience the peaceful familial atmosphere.
Chirpy, merry, and decorative Mehendi rasam, turmeric-covered faces of bride and groom, loud music, the vibrant and jhagmag hued-apparels adorning the sangeet sandhya evening, pheras and kanyadaan, etc are not the only features that describe an Indian marriage system. The roots of age-old rituals and customs run deep in the rich Indian tradition. Having said that the wedding season begins with the traditionally celebrated Hindu Tulsi Vivah. Let us know more about the importance and symbolic-mythological narrative of this wedding.
What is Tulsi Vivah?
Tulsi plant (Holy Basil) represents purity and sacredness by the spiritual Indian tradition. It possesses multiple medicinal properties. Thus, Indian families tend to grow Tulsi plant in their houses to use them according to their need.
Tulsi Vivah is the ceremonious wedding (vivah) of Tulsi plant with Shaligram stone, a representation of Lord Vishnu or his incarnation (avatar) Lord Krishna. The whole traditional wedding procedure comprising rituals and customs is sincerely followed during this wedding. The plant is endearingly decorated just like the bride is groomed on her big day. They cover the plant with a red dupatta and ornaments. There are many variations developed in the ritual since the old times in various regions of India. Few follow it in a simple manner while others make it a grand celebration.
Tulsi Vivah ritual is held on the day of Dev Uthani Akadashi or Prabodhini Ekadashi of Kartik Month (falls in October or November every year). This auspicious day arrives after 11 or 12 days of Diwali. After this occasion, the Indian families begin to plan and arrange the marriages. The day also symbolizes the end of the evil as well as negativities and beginning of happiness in everyone’s lives.
An auspicious ceremony of Tulsi Vivah.
Mythic Legend of Tulsi Vivah
Padma Purana explicitly states an interesting story behind this holy wedding-ritual. A woman named Brinda was married to a king of the asuras (demon), called Jalandhar, who could not be defeated or killed due to a vow. A vow was about his wife’s faithfulness (pativrata) towards their relationship. Due to this, Jalandhar was very proud and thus he desired to capture and rule the Trilok (the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesh). This scared Lord Shiva (the god of destruction) who immediately asked Lord Vishnu (the god of preservation) to try and stop him in some way.
At the command of the Gods, Lord Vishnu then schemed a plan. Subsequently, he appeared in front of Brinda in the disguised form of Jalandhar to which she did not recognize him. Eventually, she lost her chastity, by spending a night with Lord Vishnu. Consequently, as the vow was broken, Jalandhar was immediately defeated in the war and his head fell in front of Brinda. Seeing this betrayal by Lord Vishnu, he cursed and transformed him into a Shaligram black stone, owing to the black or impure attitude of his. Brinda, realizing that she could no longer protect his husband, jumped in the funeral pyre of Jalandhar (sati).
Vishnu highly regretted his behavior towards Brinda. He transmigrated her soul into Tulsi plant as an act of compensation. He also promised her, as a boon, that he shall marry her in the next birth. Lord Vishnu in the form of Shaligram stone married Tulsi plant on Prabodhini Ekadashi, a day of Kartik month. Hindus, thus celebrate Tulsi Vivah every year to celebrate the purity of the Tulsi plant.
Significance to the Hindu Wedding
Marriage by its definition is oneness of two souls. The Tulsi Vivah states the union of God with earthly life or embodied soul (jiva). The myth also expresses the significance of faithfulness in marriage. The vow actually represents the strength of the bond between the couple.
Tulsi Vivah thus signifies the purity and energy of the feminine soul.