With a vast mix of different cultures and traditions, India is quite a salad bowl. There is a very famous, and very ancient ritual that is still practiced by members of the Hindu community. This ritual, known as Tulsi Vivah, is the ceremonial marriage of the Tulsi plant (holy basil) to the Hindu God Vishnu, or to his avatar, Shri Krishna.
In India, this mythological wedding also signifies the end of the monsoon season, and the beginning of the wedding season for Hindus.
This ceremonial festival is celebrated between the eleventh or twelfth lunar day in the Hindu month of Kartik (also known as Prabodhini Ekadashi) and the Full Moon Day of the month (also known as Kartik Poornima). Some Hindu communities celebrate the festival for a period of five days, ending celebrations on the Full Moon Day of the Kartik month.
Tulsi Vivah is performed on the 12th day (also called Dwadashi).
In the Hindu community, the Tulsi plant is considered to be a holy plant (the Holy Basil), as it symbolises purity. In ancient times, it was also famous for its medicinal properties, and so, it is commonly found in almost every Hindu house.
Since the Tulsi plant is believed to be an incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi, who is believed to be Lord Vishnu’s wife, she is often referred to as ‘Vishnu Priya’, literally meaning ‘the beloved of Vishnu”.
The festival is mostly celebrated by either unmarried women looking for a suitable match, or women who are having trouble getting married or whose marriage may be getting delayed for some reason, or for couples having problems getting pregnant.
Legends associated with the festival
According to Hindu mythology, the Tulsi plant was a woman named “Vrinda”, who was married to the Asura king, Jalandhar. A true devotee of Lord Vishnu, she was blessed by the Lord for her piety, and was given the power of invincibility.
Being unable to defeat King Jalandhar, Lord Shiva sought help from Lord Vishnu, who is believed to be the preserver of the Trinity. Disguised as Jalandhar, Lord Vishnu tricked Vrinda by destroying her chastity.
With Vrinda’s chastity destroyed, King Jalandhar lost his power, and Lord Shiva was able to defeat him. Vrinda, feeling cheated, tried drowning herself in the ocean. Lord Vishnu saved her and to honour her, transferred her soul to a plant, which has, since then, been called Tulsi.
According to another legend, it is believed that on the day of Tulsi Vivah, Goddess Lakshmi defeated a demon, and remained on Earth by residing in a Tulsi plant.
Customs and Rituals
As part of the tradition and custom, a Tulsi plant is dressed in a red saree. The branches of the plant are adorned with red and green bangles. Kumkum, and red bindi are applied on the main stem. A mangalsutra (a necklace married women wear to represent their marital status), made of dried turmeric root, is also placed on the plant.
An image or idol of Lord Vishnu or Lord Krishna is placed next to the plant to represent the ‘groom’. The idol is dressed in a dhoti, and bathed and decorated with flower garlands before the ceremonial wedding.
The Tulsi plant and the idol of the Lord are tied together in matrimony with a Holy thread (called molli).
Female members of the family often observe a fast during the day of the festival, and only break it before the celebrations begin in the evening.Consult our expert astrologers online to learn more about the festival and their rituals.