Tulsi Vivah

Tulsi (the Holy Basil), the sacred plant of the Hindus symbolizes purity and is famous for its medicinal properties and can be found in almost every Hindu house. "Tulsi Vivah" festival is a traditional wedding (vivah) ceremony of the Tulsi plant to Lord Vishnu. It is celebrated on the day of "Dev Uthani Ekadashi, also known as Prabodhini Ekadashi" of Hindu month Kartik. It is believed that Tulsi is an incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi, consort of Lord Vishnu. She is often referred to as “Vishnu Priya” literally meaning “the beloved of Vishnu”.



The Legend
The story of the "Tulsi Vivah" is found in the Padma Purana. There was a woman named Brinda. She was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu. She was a very pious woman and was devoted to her husband Jalandhar (the demon king). Jalandhar was very powerful and he wanted to fight and defeat all the gods including the Trinity, Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. There was no way to kill Jalandhar as long as his wife Brinda remained faithful to him (Pativrata). At the request of gods, Lord Vishnu decided to take the form of Jalandhar and went to meet Brinda. Brinda was not able to recognize the disguise and spent a night with Lord Vishnu in her husband's disguise.

The devotion and the chastity (Pativrata dharma) of Brinda was thus destroyed by this act of Lord Vishnu. Brinda got extremely upset and angry to know what the Lord had done to her. She cursed him that he would become black stone known as "Shaligram" since he had the heart of stone in destroying her chastity. Even today we find that the "Shaligram" stone found only on the bed of river Gandak near Muktinath, Nepal, is used by devout Hindus (mainly the Vaishnavas) to worship Lord Vishnu, Jalandhar lost the battle with the gods and was eventually killed as his wife could no longer protect him. Brinda jumped into the funeral pyre of her husband.


Transformation to Tulsi Plant and Tulsi Vivah
Lord Vishnu wanted to compensate for what he had done to Brinda. This is why he transformed her soul to the Tulsi plant. Lord Vishnu also said that he would marry Brinda in her next birth to make up for the wrongful act that he did to Brinda. Vishnu in the form of the "Shaligram" stone got married to the Tulsi plant on the day of Prabodhini Ekadashi of Hindu month Kartik. This is the day celebrated in the form of the Tulsi Vivah Festival by the Hindus.

Noteworthy
The Tulsi Vivah signifies the end of the monsoon and the beginning of the Hindu wedding season.

The spiritual significance of the marriage of Tulsi with Vishnu
Holy basil (Tulsi) is the symbol of spiritual purity (sattvika). The marriage (Vivah) of Tulsi with Lord Vishnu means that God likes purity as a quality. The meaning of the word marriage is the merging and oneness of the embodied soul (Jiva) and God .

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