Tulsi Vivah at Bhagini Samaj
The end of monsoon season in India and the advent of the Hindu wedding season is something related to the Tulsi Vivah in many parts of India as well as around the world among the Hindu community at large. The word Tulsi signifying the Holy Basil Plant and the word Vivah meaning Wedding the day of Tulsi Vivah witnesses the ceremonial wedding of the Tulsi ( a manifestation of Mata Lakshmi) with Shaligram (a manifestation of Bhagwan Vishnu) in several Hindu households and places of worship.
In Nairobi too every year this ritual symbolic ceremony is conducted on the Dev Uthayani Ekadashi which happens to be the eleventh day of the ascending moon of the Hindu Kartik month usually occurring in the English month of November. This year the Tulsi Vivah was marked on 5th November and The Bhagini Samaj in Westlands experienced a solemn yet pompous ceremony.
The Bride Tulsi Mata became the daughter of Sonia & Manish Shah and Hiral & Jagat Shah and the groom Shaligram Lalaji became the son of Kalpana & Kalpesh Patel.
In an interesting turn it appears a lot like getting the dolls married but this has lot of spiritual aspect attached to the ceremony and the religious sentiment is very visible among those conducting, participating and witnessing this Vivah. Though it is not visible in the pictures shared, The actual Tulsi plant is placed behind the female doll idol and Shaligram (black stone form that comes from Nepal and is not commonly found) is behind the male doll idol.
The bride isusually waits covered in her veil till the appropriate time and the groom enters with pomp and splendour (in this case in his decorated car). The rituals are performed to welcome the groom by the bride’s parents as led by the priest. The symbolic wedding scene is held in lot of fervour and festivity and then the bride is brought in by the maternal uncle followed by the females in the family in a sacred procession.
Post the Vivah ceremony the attendees line up to go and place their shagan ( token of love/gift envelopes) for the bride and groom. This collection then goes to the upkeep of the temple premises.