Paying reverence to plants and trees in India is a common sight, but the most regarded plant is the Tulsi plant. Tulsi or Holy basil is regarded as a very sacred plant in the Hindu belief and has a huge significance in Indian homes.
Hindus regard it as an earthly manifestation of the goddess Tulsi; she is regarded as the avatar of goddess Lakshmi
Tulsi Vivah – The legend behind Marriage of the Tulsi Plant
Tulsi Vivah is a Hindu festival where a ceremonial marriage of the plant is performed with lord Vishnu or to his avatar, Lord Krishna.
The Tulsi wedding signifies the end of the monsoon and the beginning of the wedding season as per the Hindu customs.
Though there are many legends and stories behind the tradition, one of the widely accepted one is mentioned in the Hindu scripture Padma Purana.
Brinda was married to King Jalandhar. Brinda due to her devotion to Lord Vishnu and piousness provided King Jalandhar with incredible powers. Due to Jalandhar’s invincibility, he started attacking other Gods, and none of them were able to defeat him. As a last resort, they requested Lord Vishnu – the preserver in the Trinity – to find a solution.
When leaving for war with Lord Shiva, Brinda went for meditation and prayed for his victory till he returns. Lord Vishnu disguised himself as Jalandhar and went to see Brinda. Seeing her husband return, Brinda left her meditation.
With her meditation interrupted, Jalandhar lost his power and was killed by Shiva and his head fell in Brinda’s palace.
Seeing this she realized it was not her husband but Lord Vishnu. Out of anger, Brinda cursed Lord Vishnu to transform into a black Shaligram stone and to be separated from his wife. Following which, Brinda herself committed self-immolation, and the gods (or Vishnu himself) transferred her soul to a plant, which was henceforth called Tulsi.
Lord Vishnu also blessed Brinda that in her next birth she will marry him. Hence, to commemorate this event, the ceremony of Tulsi marriage (vivah) is performed.
Festivities around the Tulsi Marriage (Tulsi Vivah)
The Tulsi marriage is celebrated with great fanfare and it resembles the traditional Hindu wedding. The marriage ceremony is conducted at homes and at temples, by marrying shaligram stone to the plant.
Lamps, fruits, sugarcane are kept around the plant to celebrate the occasion. The plant is decked up as a bride with bright colored clothes, jewelry, and flowers.
During the ceremony, Vishnu and Tulsi, are tied together with a cotton thread to signify the marriage.
Many people observe fast on this special day, sing songs, and take her blessings so that our lives are filled with purity calmness, and happiness forever.
In many northern Indian cities located on the banks of the river Ganga like Varanasi, Allahabad, Patna, and Haridwar, the devotees as part of the ritual offer prayers and take a holy dip in the river.
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Significance of Tulsi Plant
Tulasi/Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum), commonly known as holy basil, is an aromatic perennial plant in the family Lamiaceae. It is predominantly cultivated in Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent.
Generally, the plant is kept at the entrance of the house or the central courtyard in most Indian households. As a practice, every day, people pay respect to the plant and put water and light a lamp. In many religious ceremonies, leaves of Tulsi leaves are used particularly in charanamrit or the holy water and given as an offering to devotees.
The sacred basil is not only known for its spiritual value but also for its medicinal value. Taking the plant in small doses helps in increasing immunity.
Another brilliant impact of Tulsi is on the environment – it is one of the few plants that release oxygen at night, unlike most other plants that release carbon dioxide.
In conclusion, let Tulsi marriage is an occasion to seek blessings and a day to remind that we should always respect each and every living being on this planet.