EXPLORING CULTURES &TRADITIONS: Diwali Festival in Goa- Tulshiche Lagn (Part 3/3)

Author: Gauri Kshirsagar

As mentioned in my first article in this series of ‘Diwali Festivalin Goa’, the Goan tradition of making “Narkasur’ effigy marks the beginning of the Diwali festival and in the same way ‘Tulsi Vivah’ or ‘Tulshiche Lagn’ marks the end of the Diwali festival and initiates the Hindu wedding season. The ceremonial festival is performed anytime between Prabodhini Ekadashi (the eleventh or twelfth lunar day of the bright fortnight of the Hindu month of Kartik) and Kartik Poornima (the full moon of the month). The day varies regionally.

Tulsi is the object of more adoration than any other plant worshipped in India, and is believed to be a destroyer of demons and evil spirits. Tulsi is considered as a goddess in Hinduism and is sometimes considered as a wife of Lord Vishnu.. Famous for its therapeutic value, the plant is a common sight in Hindu households. Usually the plant is grown in a special planter called the Tulsi Vrindavan, which is placed the courtyard of the house. The planter which is usually a small square pillar with a hollow at the top to grow the plant had its four sides facing the four cardinal points.

As the legend goes, the Tulsi plant was a woman named “Vrinda”. She was an incarnation of the Goddess Lakshmi. She was married to the Asura king Jalandhar, who due to her devotion to Vishnu, became invincible. Even the gods could not defeat Jalandhar, so they requested Lord Vishnu to find a solution.

When leaving for war Vrinda promised Jalandhar that she will perform penance till he wins the war. But Lord Vishnu disguised himself as Jalandhar and when she saw him ,she left her penance and touched his feet. With her penance destroyed, Jalandhar lost his power and was killed by Shiva and his head fell in Vrinda’s palace. Seeing this she realized it was not her husband but Lord Vishnu. Vrinda cursed Lord Vishnu to become Shaligram and to be separated from his wife, Lakshmi. Vrinda then drowned herself in the ocean, and the gods 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. To commemorate this event, the ceremony of Tulsi Vivah is performed every year on this day.

The day starts with cleaning the ‘Tulsi’ and painting it with new bright colours. A beautiful ‘mandap’ or the wedding tent made out of banana trunk.

While the tulsi plant is a bride, Vishnu is represented by a jino badi or a stick which is decorated with handmade carvings. A small lamp is lighted over it.  Sugarcane represents the best man (dhedo) and tamarind stalk the bride’s maid (dhedi). 

In the afternoon the tulsi is presented with a wedding feast comprising of different delicious dishes.

The puja is performed by the eldest in the family. The marriage is ritually solemnised. A sense of sanctity is accorded to the ceremony with the chanting of holy hymns known as mangal-ashtakas.

Here is a small video of the festivities…..

After the celebration ‘hari jagar’ – a mixture of puffed rice (chirmulyo), sugarcane pieces, green tamarind pieces, pieces of ‘avale’ and coconut kernel – are served to those attending the lagn.

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