Tulsi or the basil plant is considered highly sacred in Hinduism and is one of the most worshipped plants. It holds a great significance not only in rituals but also holds medicinal values.
Tulsi Vivah or the marriage of Tulsi with Lord Vishnu or his Krishna avatar is celebrated on the Prabodhini Ekadashi, the eleventh day of Shukla Paksha or the twelfth day in the Hindu month of Karthika. The day signifies the end of the monsoon month and the beginning of the Hindu wedding season.
According to the Hindu scriptures, a woman named Vrinda was married to demon king Jalandhar. He became powerful because of his devotion to Lord Vishnu and Vrinda’s piousness. Even gods couldn’t destroy Jalandhar and hence they approached Lord Vishnu for help. In order to break Vrinda’s chastity, Vishnu disguised himself as Jalandhar and tricked her. Jalandhar lost all his powers and was killed by Lord Shiva.
Vrinda got furious and cursed Vishnu that he will become black in colour and would be separated from his wife. Her words became reality after he turned into the black Shaligram stone and got separated from his wife in his Rama avatar from Sita. Vrinda drowns herself and the gods transform her soul to Tulsi plant. Lord Vishnu blesses her that in her next birth she will marry him. Hence, to celebrate the event Tulsi Vivah is performed.
The rituals performed on the day is the same as of a Hindu wedding. The ceremony is performed either at home or at temples. A mandap is installed around the courtyard where the Tulsi plant is planted. The Tulsi Vrindavan is decked up as a bride with red saree, jewellery, and flowers. Some people even attach a paper face to the Tulsi plant.
The groom is a brass idol or a picture of Lord Vishnu or Krishna. The idol or the picture is draped in a dhoti and decorated with flowers. During the ceremony, Vishnu and Tulsi, are tied together with a cotton thread also called as mala.
In Maharashtra, Mangala Ashtaka, mantras are sung during the marriage ceremony, is recited by the priests by holding a white cloth between the bride and the groom. Akshada, rice coloured with vermilion, haldi, and kumkum, are showered on the couple and later the white cloth is removed signifying the approval to the wedding.
Devotees are offered sugar-care, fruits, and groundnuts. Tulsi is offered saree, vermilion, and mangalsutra while Vishnu is offered men’s clothing, sacred thread, and sandalwood.
Tulasi Vivah falls on Thursday, November 26, 2020. As per the Drik Panchang, the Ekadashi tithi begins at 2:42 am on November 25 and ends at 5:10 am on November 26.