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Tulsi Vivaha
By Vimla Patil, October 2011 []

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Tulsi Vivaha is celebrated on Kartik Dwadashi – A day after the Prabodhini Ekadash. The winter wedding season in India is inaugurated with Lord Krishna’s marriage with the sacred Tulsi plant, a symbol of Rukmini’s devotion and love for him!

The week in which India celebrates Diwali is truly hectic and busy. With poojas and fireworks, sweets galore and family gatherings, time flies before one knows and soon, there are quieter days. With Diwali, the colourful festival season of the year comes to an end and there is a hiatus before the New Year brings its procession of festivals once again.

Indeed, with Kartik Ekadashi, the holy Chaturmas (four holy months) of major Indian festivals comes to an end – and it is significant that these four months are the Monsoon months of India when harvests are planted and reaped in the mild, sunny weather. Perhaps Chartumas is a concept unique to an agricultural economy like India, a country totally dependent on the Monsoon rains for its agriculture and commerce. Even the literature, poetry, art, dance and music of India celebrate the Monsoon as the life giver of India.

It is interesting to know that Chaturmas (four holy months) begins with Devashayani Ekadashi or Ashadh Ekadashi when Lord Vishnu begins a period of rest after providing the earth with plentitude of agricultural produce and greening the earth. Four months later comes Kartik Ekadashi, which is called Prabodhini Ekadashi because Lord Vishnu wakes up to take charge of the world again after having rested for four months.

The day after this Ekadashi, comes the beautiful festival of Tulsi Vivaha which is symbolic of India’s love and respect for plants and trees, even those that grow wild. Tulsi is a plant that grows in the wild and is cultivated only because it is a part of worship rituals for Vishnu or Krishna. It is sacred to all Indians and is called the Holy Basil by Western societies. It has many medicinal qualities too.

Why is it considered holy? There are several traditions about this belief. But one that is relevant today and is touching to the heart concerns Lord Krishna’s love story with his consort Rukmini! It is said that when Krishna’s ‘work and duties’ on this earth were done, he was invited by all the gods to return to Devlok, the abode of divine beings. When he was gone, both his wives Satyabhama and Rukmini (Lakshmi) missed him and requested Muni Narada to bring him back! Narada said that Krishna would return only if either of them could outweigh him and offer something heavier than him to the gods. Satyabhama, arrogant and proud of her looks and riches, agreed instantly. Krishna was brought to the earth and asked to sit in one pan of a specially set up weighing scale (Tula) and Satyabhama quickly began to pile the other pan with her wonderful gems and gold and silverware. As she put more and more jewels, the pan in which Krishna was seated weighed heavier and heavier. The arrogant Satyabhama gave up in the end and retired to her palace.

Rukmini – an incarnation of Lakshmi – came forward, plucked a sprig from the Tulsi plant growing nearby and put it in the pan emptied by Satyabhama, saying, “With all my love and devotion, I weigh this Tulsi sprig against you.” In an instant, the pan dropped, showing that the Tulsi leaves were heavier than Krishna!

Since then, Tulsi leaves are a symbol of love and devotion and are loved by Krishna or Vishnu (Vithala) and offered to him in every ritual. Every Kartik Dwadashi, Krishna and Tulsi are married in ceremonial pomp and splendor! Their wedding starts the winter wedding season of India. Tulsi and Krishna are offered the produce of the season – namely sugarcane, tamarind, amlas and various berries. The markets are full of winter fruits and berries in this season. In fact, sugarcane is used for building the wedding mandap for the divine couple.

What is even more interesting is that in the wedding of any Hindu couple, the father of the bride offers her hand to the bridegroom with a Tulsi leaf placed on it to make it ‘permanent and auspicious’. Putting a Tulsi leaf on any gift makes it final and complete with good wishes. Thus, the saying “Tulsi patra rakh ke diya’ means that the giver has no claim to the gift any longer and that it is given with good wishes! It also signifies the giver’s sense of detachment from whatever is given – an object, a promise, a relationship or even a claim!

The author was Editor of Femina for 25 years. Vimla Patil is among India's senior most Journalists-Media persons. She excels in writing lifestyle pieces, women's concerns, travelogues, celebrity interviews, art-culture pieces about India. .

Also read:
- Sacred Trees of the Hindus
- Holy month of Sravan

Tulsi Vivah with Krishna

Tulsi Vivah with Manjiri
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[5] Comment(s) Posted
  1. Comment By - Dr Satya Pal Bindra Date - 30 Oct 2015 Time - 11:26AM
  2. UNCSD Rio+20 Future We Want salutes wisdom traditions of ancient India, knowledge , insight & true meaning of saga of Tulsi Vivaha. We thank esamskriti to help our one common & interdependent planet connect with heritage to build a glorious future for mankind togather.

  3. Comment By - Dr Satya Pal Bindra Date - 05 Nov 2014 Time - 9:55AM
  4. Wonderful stories that highlight importance of Tulsi.

  5. Comment By - jaya prabha anipindi Date - 11 May 2013 Time - 10:16PM
  6. very interesting story .

  7. Comment By - seema burman Date - 07 Nov 2012 Time - 1:45AM
  8. Beautiful. But in Kartik Mahatmya the name of demon, Tulsi`s husband is Jalandhara. Lord Vishnu is always looking for the best qualities in a soul and the moment He finds a spotless pure soul He attracts them and absorbs them. This is also the reason of His marrying Tulsi. This is the actual meaning of Krishna stealing butter. Butter is pure, spotlessly clean, soft and vulnerable. Butter is whiter than milk and is extracted after lot of hard work. Souls get purified after lot of tapasya and then Vishnu wants them in His close association. That is why symbolically He likes peacock feather(symbol of chastity), murli (symbol of egolessness), cow (symbol of nurturing). The best belongs to Vishnu as He is the burturer, the one who has to run a large family. Siva accepts those who are ignored, but one who has to run a household must have best of everything. Vishnu, palankarta sees the best and plans accordingly.

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