The Legend of Tulsi Vivah – Wedding of the Gods
Worshipping Nature is a common occurrence around the world and is seen in every great mythology, right from the Romans who have Neptune and Jupiter to the Greeks who have Artemis, Poseidon and Demeter, to name just a few. In India, worshipping Nature takes on a whole new meaning, with marriages being conducted not only between gods and goddesses, but even between gods and plants. The holy basil or tulsi as it is known in India, is considered sacred and is present in most Indian homes. But did you know that the Tulsi is also believed to be the wife of Lord Vishnu? We bring you the legend of this great mythological wedding.
Tulsi was originally a woman named Vrinda, who was an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu and was married to a powerful demon-king named Jalandhar. Due to Vrinda’s sincere devotion to the Lord, Jalandhar was blessed with a boon which made him invincible. But it so happened that this very boon became a menace for the gods, who could not defeat him in battle. They approached Lord Shiva, the Destroyer and also Jalandhar’s father, to annihilate him. But even his might was no match in front of Jalandhar’s invincible powers.
But as you may have heard, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Vrinda’s husband was dead and she wanted her revenge. She cursed Vishnu that he would turn black and like her, would be separated from his ladylove, Lakshmi. Her curse was fulfilled when he became a black Shaligram stone and was separated from Lakshmi, and also during his seventh avatar as Rama, when Ravana abducted his wife Sita. Meanwhile, unwilling to live anymore, Vrinda committed suicide by drowning herself in the ocean. However, Vishnu could not allow his once-faithful devotee’s life go to naught just like that. He blessed her that in her next birth, she would marry him and also brought her to life in the form of the tulsi plant, as an incarnation of his darling Lakshmi.
Finally, Shiva met Lord Vishnu and asked him to find a solutions to the problem. Lord Vishnu was unable to kill Jalandhar directly since his consort Lakshmi considered him her brother. So all he could do was take back Jalandhar’s powers of invincibility, which he had gained only due to Vrinda’s purity. Vishnu disguised himself as Jalandhar in front of Vrinda and made her believe that he had died in battle against Shiva, but was resurrected after death. Overcome with happiness, she embraced him quickly, only to then realise she had embraced someone who was not her husband. But the damage was done. Her chastity was defiled. Naturally Jalandhar’s invincibility too vanished into thin air and he was then killed by Shiva.
As promised, Vishnu married Tulsi in his Shaligram form on the day of Prabodhini Ekadashi and since then, devotees conduct the ritual of Tulsi Vivah or Tulsi’s Wedding on the twelfth day of the Kartik month of the Hindu lunar calendar.