Ocimum tenuiflorum, also known as Holy Basil, Tulsi/Tulasī/Thulasi. Tulsi is an aromatic plant in the family Lamiaceae which is native throughout the Eastern World tropics and widespread as a cultivated plant and an escaped weed. It is an erect, much branched subshrub, 30–60 cm tall with hairy stems and simple, opposite, green leaves that are strongly scented. Leaves have petioles, and are ovate, up to 5 cm long, usually slightly toothed. The flowers are purplish in elongate racemes in close whorls. The two main morphotypes cultivated in India and Nepal are green-leaved (Sri or Lakshmi tulsi) and purple-leaved (Krishna tulsi).



Tulsi is cultivated for religious and medicinal purposes, and for its essential oil. It is widely known across South Asia as a medicinal plant and an herbal tea, commonly used in Ayurveda, and has an important role within the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism, in which devotees perform worship involving holy basil plants or leaves. For centuries, the dried leaves have been mixed with stored grains to repel insects.

Tulsi has been used for thousands of years in Ayurveda for its diverse healing properties. It is mentioned in the Charaka Samhita, an ancient Ayurvedic text. Tulsi is considered to be an adaptogen, balancing different processes in the body, and helpful for adapting to stress. Marked by its strong aroma and astringent taste, it is regarded in Ayurveda as a kind of "elixir of life" and believed to promote longevity.

Tulsi extracts are used in ayurvedic remedies for a variety of ailments. Traditionally, tulsi is taken in many forms: as herbal tea, dried powder, fresh leaf, or mixed with ghee. Essential oil extracted from Karpoora tulsi is mostly used for medicinal purposes and in herbal cosmetics, and is widely used in skin preparations.

Tulsi or tulasi is a sacred plant for Hindus and is worshipped by Hindus as the avatar of goddess Lakshmi. Water mixed with the petals is given to the dying to raise their departing souls to heaven. Tulsi, which is Sanskrit for "the incomparable one", is most often regarded as a consort of Krishna in the form of Lakshmi. According to the Brahma Vaivarta Purana, tulsi is an expression of Sita. There are two types of tulsi worshipped in Hinduism: "Rama tulsi" has light green leaves and is larger in size; "Shyama tulsi" has dark green leaves and is important for the worship of Hanuman. Many Hindus have tulsi plants growing in front of or near their home, often in special pots. Traditionally, tulsi is planted in the center of the central courtyard of Hindu houses.


According to Vaishnavas, it is believed in Puranas that during Samudra Manthana when the gods win the ocean-churning against asuras, Lord Vishnu comes up from the ocean with Amrita in hand for the gods. Lord Vishnu sheds happy tears and when the first drop falls in Amrita it forms Tulasi. Which is also a well known reason for Tulasi being very lovable for Lord Krishna.

Tulsi Vivah:

Tulsi Vivah is the ceremonial marriage of the Tulsi plant (holy basil) to the Hindu god Vishnu or his Avatar Krishna. This ceremony can be performed any time between Prabodhini Ekadashi - the eleventh lunar day of the bright fortnight of the Hindu month Kartik to the full moon of the month (Kartik Poornima) but usually it is performed on the eleventh or the twelfth lunar day. The day varies from region to region. The Tulsi wedding signifies the end of the monsoon and the beginning of the Hindu wedding season.

Legend

Tulsi is venerated as a goddess in Hinduism and sometimes considered a wife of god Vishnu. She is often called as Vishnupriya, the beloved of Vishnu. The legend behind Tulsi Vivah and its rites are told in the scripture Padma Purana.

According to Hindu mythology, the Tulsi plant was a woman named Vrinda (Brinda), a synonym of Tulsi. She was married to the demon-king Jalandhar. Due to her piety and devotion to Vishnu, her husband became invincible. Even god Shiva, the destroyer in the Hindu Trinity could not defeat Jalandhar. So Shiva requested Vishnu - the preserver in the Trinity - to find a solution. Vishnu disguised himself as Jalandhar and violated Vrinda. Her chastity destroyed, Jalandhar was killed by Shiva. Vrinda cursed Vishnu to become black in colour and he would be separated from his wife. Thus, he was transformed into the black Shaligram stone and in his Rama avatar, his wife Sita was kidnapped by a demon-king and thus separated from him. Vrinda then burnt herself on her husband's funeral pyre or immolated herself due to the shame. The gods or Vishnu transferred her soul to a plant, henceforth which was called as Tulsi. As per a blessing by Vishnu to marry Vrinda in her next birth, Vishnu in form of Shaligram - married Tulsi on Prabodhini Ekadashi. To commemorate this event, the ceremony of Tulsi Vivah is performed.

Another minor legend narrates that Lakshmi - the chief consort of Vishnu - slew a demon on this day and remained on earth as the Tulsi plant.

Rituals

The marriage of Tulsi with Vishnu/Krishna resembles the traditional Hindu wedding. This ceremony is conducted at homes and also at temples. A fast is observed on the Tulsi Vivah day till evening when the ceremony begins. A mantap (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 clothed 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 sometimes Balarama or more frequently 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.

In Maharashtra, an important ritual in the ceremony is when the white cloth is held between the bride and the groom and the priest recites the Mangal Ashtaka mantras. These mantras formally complete the wedding. Rice mixed with vermilion is showered by the attendees on Tulsi and Vishnu at the end of the recitation of the mantras with the word "Savadhan" (literally "be careful" implying "You are united now". The white curtain is also removed. The attendees clap signifying approval to the wedding. Vishnu is offered sandalwood-paste, men's clothing and the sacred thread. The bride is offered saris, turmeric, vermilion and a wedding necklace called Mangal-sutra, worn by married women. Sweets and food cooked for an actual wedding are cooked for Tulsi Vivah too. This ceremony is mostly performed by women. The prasad of sugar-cane, coconut chips, fruits and groundnut is distributed to devotees.

The expenses of the wedding are usually borne by a daughter-less couple, who act as the parents of Tulsi in the ritual wedding. The giving away of the daughter Tulsi (kanyadaan) to Krishna is considered meritorious to the couple. The bridal offerings to Tulsi are given to a Brahmin priest or female ascetics after the ceremony.

In two Rama temples in Saurashtra, the ceremony is more elaborate. An invitation card is sent to the groom's temple by the bride's temple. On Prabodhini Ekadashi, a barat bridal procession of Lalji - an image of Vishnu - sets off to the bride's temple. Lalji is placed in a palanquin and accompanied by singing and dancing devotees. The barat is welcomed on the outskirts of Tulsi's village and the ceremonial marriage is carried at the temple. At the bride's side, Tulsi is planted in an earthen pot for the ceremony. People desirous of children perform Kanyadaan from Tulsi's side acting as her parents. Bhajans are sung throughout the night and in the morning the barat of Lalji returns to their village with Tulsi. 

Date of Tulsi Vivah 2012: Sunday, 25-11-2012


Photo Gallery


 Tulsi Vivah in Karnataka

Photos: Shriharsha.B.S.
Information Courtesy: Wikipedia

Categories:

One Response so far.

Facebook plugin by sutthonabanni.com Enhanced by PRAVEEN MANGALORE

Leave a Reply