All geared up for Greater Diwali
Known as ‘Vhodli Diwali’ the season of Tulsi Vivaha that follows Diwali celebrations is celebrated with great splendour in Goa. Tulsi Vrindavanas are painted afresh as the wedding ceremony of Tulsi is performed with VIshnu. Backed by intriguing Puranik legends and rooted in cultural significance, Tulsi Vivaha is perhaps one of Goa’s greatest cultural treasures.
09th November 2019, 02:05 Hrs
The myth behind the festival
It is said that there was once a demon named Jalandhar who was an enemy of the gods. However, his wife Vrinda was a devotee of Lord Vishnu, and was also dedicated to her husband. Due to the spiritual power of Vrinda, her husband Jalandhar became invincible in battle, and even Lord Shiva could not beat him. Then, Shiva requested Vishnu for help.
Vishnu disguised himself as Vishnu disguised himself as Jalandhar and tricked Vrinda by touching her. She realized it was not her husband but Vishnu. This destroyed her chastity.
With her chastity destroyed, Jalandhar lost his power and was killed by Shiva. Vrinda cursed Vishnu to become Shaligram and to be separated from his wife, Lakshmi. This was later fulfilled when he was transformed into the black Shaligram stone, and in his Ram avatar, was separated from his wife Sita, who was kidnapped by the asura king Ravan. Vrinda then drowned herself in the ocean, and the gods (or Vishnu himself) transferred her soul to a plant, which was henceforth called 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. This festival also heralds the beginning of the wedding season in India.
Significance of Tulsi plant
The Hindu tradition associates tulsi plant with purification, protection, love and eternal life. In the old days, women of the house were required to light a sacred lamp and circle the Tulsi plant in the morning and evening. Research has proved that Tulsi plant gives out oxygen for 20 hours a day and ozone for four hours. In earlier days, women spent most of their time in the kitchen around fire where there was lots of carbon. Spending time around Tulsi ensured they got fresh oxygen. This line of thought offers scientific basis to why it was considered important to have a tulsi vrindavan at every household.
This year, as per our annual tradition, we are going to head to our native village of Cuncolim. Watching the tulsi vrindavan being painted is one of my favourite things about the festival, apart from the abundance of sugarcane. This year, we are going with a dark colour scheme for the vrindavan.
—Sayli Kuncolienkar, Vasco
I have come home to Goa from Mumbai specially for Greater Diwali. Tulsi Vivaha is a long tradition that still brings many childhood memories. Personally for me, the ritual underlines the importance to connect to nature amidst growing urbanization. Also, it’s the season when sugarcane is ready for harvesting, and today, it is presented to the gods before being headed to markets and factories for sale and processing.
—Sen Bandodkar, Mumbai
At our place, Tulsi Vivaha is marked especially by sweet poha which is cooked in jaggery and ghee, with extra sugar sprinkled on top. We have around 40-50 guests attending every year, and it’s a good opportunity to socialise with friends and family, near and far
—Vinaya Alawani, Ponda
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