Tulsi Vivah is one of the Hindu festivals in India. The festival takes place after Diwali. People celebrate it by holding a marriage between Tulsi (basil) plant and Lord Vishnu. We can find the legend behind Tulsi Vivah in Padma Purana.
Once lived a demigod by the name of Jalandhara. He was born out of the energy from Lord Shiva’s third eye. Varuna, the god of oceans, raised him. Since childhood, Jalandhara was destined to do great things. Later on, Jalandhara studied under sage Shukracharya. The sage hated devas (gods). He often spoke about how Asuras (demons) would rule the three worlds one day.
Jalandhara had heard the stories of the war between gods and demons from Varuna. He knew the power that the gods possessed. Thus, he was against Shukracharya’s views and wanted no part in this fight.
But his perspective changed due to Samudra Manthana. Jalandhara detested how gods fooled Asuras and took hold of most of the treasures. They even denied Asuras of Amrita, the nectar of immortality. He believed that the ocean’s jewels didn’t belong to the gods. His hatred for gods grew when he saw Rahu’s head, severed by Vishnu. These reasons propelled Jalandhara to battle gods. He dreamt of ruling the three realms.
Jalandhara was married to Vrinda, the daughter of Asura Kalanemi. Vrinda was a noble lady who loved her husband deeply. Due to this love, she had turned a blind eye to his cruel deeds. Ironically, Vrinda was an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu. She always wished for her husband’s win and good health. Vishnu was pleased with her devotion and selflessness. He granted her wish.
Jalandhar attacked the heavens. He defeated Indra, driving out the gods. The gods called Vishnu for help. But Vishnu was bound by his boon. He couldn’t fight Jalandhara. With Vrinda on his side, Jalandhara was invincible. He conquered the three realms. His rule was filled with violence. Blind with arrogance, he locked horns with Shiva. He insulted Shiva by passing lewd remarks at Parvati. Lord Shiva was enraged. He challenged Jalandhara for battle.
Jalandhara prepared his army to conquer Kailash mountains, Shiva’s home. Vrinda was worried to see him leaving for battle. Although Vrinda knew that Jalandhara was a great warrior, she was wary of almighty Shiva’s power. To save her husband, Vrinda prayed to Lord Vishnu. She made up her mind that she wouldn’t stop praying until Jalandhara returned.
For the greater good, Vishnu created an illusion that Jalandhara had died at the hands of Shiva. Vrinda got this news. Hysterically, she just kept chanting Vishnu’s name. Then Vishnu took the form of Jalandhara, stood before her, and told her that he was still alive. Relieved, Vrinda ran up to him and embraced him. Her prayer was broken. Vishnu no longer had to protect Jalandhara.
Eventually, Vrinda came to know of Vishnu’s disguise. She was hurt. Livid Vrinda cursed him that he would meet the same fate. Vrinda couldn’t bear the shame. So, she entered the fire to sacrifice herself.
Jalandhara heard of Vrinda’s demise. He fiercely fought with Shiva. In the end, Shiva finished the demigod with his Trishula (Trident).
Some legends say that due to Vrinda’s curse, Vishnu’s avatar, Rama had to depart from his wife, Sita.
In popular culture, this tale has been recreated in the movie Tulsi Vivah starring Jayshree Gadkar.