month is an auspicious month and on the ekadasi day (eleventh day from no-moon
day) a unique festival called Kartik Puja is performed by women on the banks of
the Ganga in Varanasi.
happens to be the day of celestial marriage of Tulsi with Saligram Shila. Tulsi
is a plant (Ocimum basilicum or Ocimum sanctum). There are two types of Tulsi –
one is Rama Tulsi with light green leaves and the other is Krishna Tulsi with
dark green leaves. Its is a prerequisite for the worship of Vishnu and Narayan.
A Saligram Shila is an ammonite fossil can generally be classified under
Cephalopoda class which is roughly 425 million years old. This stone is one of
the most sacred stones for Hindus.
The origin of the Saligram Shila goes back to the Puranic or mythological era.
Vishnu and Lakshmi once had a terrible quarrel and cursed one another.
Sarawati’s curse transformed Lakshmi into a Tulsi plant destined to live on
earth forever. Vishnu, however, intervened and said, “Lakshmi, you will live in
the world as a holy Tulsi plant and when the curse has been completed you will
come back to me. On that day a river named Gandaki will start from your body
which will be in the shape of a Tulsi plant. On the bank of that river I will
remain as a stone image (Saligram). There will be many worms with strong tusks
and teeth which will pierce the stone into the shape of the sudarshan chakra
(quoit) and it will create numberless Saligram.” Puranic sources further state
that Tulsi and Saligarm Shila are married on earth on Kartik Purnima day.
Womenfolk celebrate the celestial marriage. One group adopts Saligram as
Krishna and the other Tulsi. The celestial marriage is a unique phenomenon
during which women forget their human existence and merge with the celestial
figures. The women behave as if they have found oneness with God. During the
marriage ceremony they sing marriage songs numbering around 50. They verbally
fight amongst themselves – one group taking the side of Krishna and the other
that of Tulsi. Both groups trade allegations against each other. For instance
the group that adopts Tulsi says. “Your Krishna has no character as he roams
around with many gopis (milkmaids)…” Even priests are not spared and they are
termed as a “greedy lot” .