Fast, Fairs and Festivals of India Fast, Fairs and Festivals of India
Celebrated In : October-November

Kartik 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.


This also 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” .