Sanatan Dharam Sabha, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Tulsi Vivah

The Tulsi plant, sacred to the Hindus, is regarded as an incarnation of Mahalaxmi and was born as Vrinda.

Vrinda was married to the demon king Jalandhar. She prayed to Lord Vishnu for her husband's protection, with the result that Jalandhar was free from any kind of harm. However, at the request of the other Gods, Lord Vishnu took the form of Jalandhar and lived with the unsuspecting Tulsi. When the truth finally emerged after Jalandhar's death, Vrinda cursed Vishnu and turned him to stone (Shaligram). She then collapsed, and from her body emerged the Tulsi plant. That is why Vishnu pooja is considered incomplete without including some tulsi leaves.

The festival of Tulsi Vivah is celebrated on the next day after Kartik Ekadashi. On this day Tulsi is married to Shaligram. This festival is widely celebrated in Goa. A special feature of the festival is the preparation of various sweet dishes at the homes of devotees. A typical Goan load of sweets, known as ojhe, is sent to the daughter's home from her parents along with jodi (cotton threads used to light the lamp when performing aarti).

On the day of this festival, Tulsivrindavan is coloured and decorated as a bride. Sugarcane and branches of tamarind and amla trees are planted alongside the Tulsi plant. Only vegetarian food is cooked and served on this day. At midday, a full meal consisting of rice, moongachi gathi, puri, sweet potato kheer, and red pumpkin (cooked with pieces of sugarcane, amla and tamarind) is offered to Tulsivrindavan. Tulsi Vivah ceremony takes place in the late evening. Various poha dishes are offered to Lord Vishnu. Finally prasad is distributed among family members and friends.

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