Tulasi Vivah is the ceremonial marriage of the Tulsi plant (holy basil) to the Hindu god Vishnu or his Avatar Krishna. In 2023, it will be celebrated on Friday, 24th of November which will also mark the beginning of Holy Wedding season of Hindus. This holy ceremony is performed anytime between the Prabodhini Ekadashi and the Karthik Purnima in the month of Karthik. It is believed that Tulsi is an incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi, who is the beloved of Lord Vishnu. This plant possesses different healing qualities that improve the brain and body.
It is believed that every person who follows the tradition of marrying Tulsi to Lord Vishnu earns the credit of performing Kanyadaan (to marry off one's daughter). Tulsi plant is dressed up and decorated with traditional ornaments to make her look like a bride. An image of Lord Vishnu or a stone is taken to depict the groom. To begin the marriage ceremony, the couple is joined by cotton thread. With all the Mantras the marriage is commemorated and rice mixed with vermilion (Roli Chawal) is showered on the holy couple of Tulsi and Shaligram.
Maa Tulsi is venerated and paid special admiration from the bottom of heart as a goddess in Hindu culture and sometimes considered a wife of Vishnu and sometimes with the epithet Vishnupriya who is the beloved of Lord Vishnu. As per Padma Purana, Tulsi was the incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi who was born as Vrinda. She was married to demon King Jalandhar. She prayed with all the vigor and protected her demon husband from all the Gods. Since every bad thing has to end one day, Jalandhar's end also came. At the request of all the Gods, Lord Vishnu converted himself as Vrinda's husband (Jalandhar) and started living with her. On discovering the truth, she cursed Lord Vishnu and converted him into a stone which was named Shaligram. She also cursed him to get separated from his wife in the next birth as Lord Rama. This actually came true when he took his avatar as Lord Rama, he soon lost his wife, Goddess Sita as the demon king Ravana kidnapped her. Vrinda then drowned herself in the ocean, and the gods or Vishnu himself transferred her soul to a plant, which was henceforth called as Tulsi. Now, Lord Vishnu eagerly wanted to get back in his original form and for this matter in his next birth married Tulsi on Prabodhini Ekadashi. To commemorate this event, the ceremony of Tulsi Vivah is performed. Another minor legend narrates that Lakshmi slew a demon on this day and remained on earth as the Tulsi plant. From then, it is believed that Lord Vishnu is worshiped using Tulsi leaves and this started the custom of Tulsi Vivah. She is very dear to Lord Vishnu and a ceremonial marriage takes place every year.
As per another Legend, Tulsi incarnated as a princess who fell in love with Lord Krishna. This displeased his beloved Radha and she cursed Tulsi.
In another story, Lord Krishna was weighted by gold by his wife Satyabhama. Even after using all the gold he could not be outweighed. His other wife Rukmani placed a Tulsi leaf on the weighing scale which outweighed him instantly.
Customs of Tulsi Vivah :
The marriage of Tulsi with Vishnu resembles the traditional Hindu wedding. In Kalyug, marriages take place the same way. The ceremony should be conducted at homes and also at temples but nowadays in new customs, it takes place at halls as well as hotels. Fast is observed on this day. A mandap (marriage booth) is built around the courtyard of the house where the Tulsi plant is planted. The Tulsi plant is usually planted in centre of the courtyard in a brick plaster called Tulsi vrindavana. It is believed that the soul of Vrinda resides in the plant at night and leaves in the morning. The bride Tulsi is draped with a sari and ornaments including earrings and necklaces. A human paper face with a bindi and nose-ring - may be attached to Tulsi. The groom is a brass image or picture of Vishnu or Krishna or the Shaligram stone - the symbol of Vishnu. The image is clothed in a dhoti. Both Vishnu and Tulsi are bathed and decorated with flowers and garlands before the wedding. The couple is linked with a cotton thread (mala) in the ceremony.