CHICAGO: The Hindu Mandir of Lake County, Grayslake, a Chicago suburb celebrated Govardhana-pūjā, also known as Annakut or Annakoot (mountain of food)on Sunday, November 7, 2021 and Tulsi Vivah (TulasiKaḷyāṇaṁ) on Sunday, November 14, 2021) in which a ceremonial marriage of the Tulsi (Holy Basil) with God Shaligram or Amla branch (personifications of Vishnu) was performed with much devotion and fervor.
It is observed that our Vedic traditions and great heritage are rigorously followed and maintained by both the temple management and the priest. Devotees worshiped Govardhan Hill built out of cooked rice by the temple pries Pt. Anil Joshi Ji. Devotees prepared a large variety of more than 100 Satvik homemade foods for Lord Krishna as a mark of gratitude.
Pt. Joshi Ji offered Annakut Naivedyam set on the Banana leaves and juices filled in the earthen pots that were placed in the midst of Mango leaves and flowers after performing the Puja of Giriraj Govardhan that was adored with miniature cows, calves, bulls, and families in the village by following all the Vedic rituals and Mantras. This day commemorates the incident in the Bhagavata Purana when Krishna lifted Govardhan Hill to provide the villagers of Vrindavan shelter from torrential rains. He presented a brief discourse on the importance and origin of Govardhan Puja and Annakut.
Pt. Joshi Ji also conducted Tulsi Vivah, the marriage of Tulsi with Vishnu/Krishna that resembled the traditional Hindu wedding very majestically with Var and Kanya side sponsors and devotees by following all the Vedic Vivah rituals and Mantras. He performed Swagatam (Welcome)of the Baraats to the ‘Mandap’ (ceremonial stage), Sankalpam, Ganesh Pujan, Madhurparka (A mixture of yogurt and honey is offered to the groom), Jaimala(The bride and groom garland each other), Kanyadaan (Giving away of the bride to the groom),Gath Bandhan (The bride and groom’s stoles are tied into a knot).
Then, Sindoor and Mangala Sutra, (the groom welcomes her as his eternal partner by placing Sindoor on bride’s hair parting and tying Mangal Sutra around her neck), Saat Phere (Seven circumambulations around the sacred fire) and Bidai (Farewell) that marked the completion of the wedding.
In his discourse on the history of Tulsi plant, he said that Vrinda (Brinda; a synonym of Tulsi) was married to the Asura (demon) king Jalandhar, who due to her piety and devotion to Lord Vishnu became invincible. He was a real brother of Ma Lakshmi. With Vrinda’s Sankalpa destroyed when she met with Lord Vishnu who disguised himself as Jalandhar, 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 then drowned herself in the ocean, and then God (Vishnu himself) transferred her soul into a plant, which was henceforth called Tulsi. As per a blessing by Vishnu, Vrinda married him in her next birth in form of Shaligram on PrabodhiniEkadashi.
Pt Joshi Ji blessed all the devotees for their excellent health, abundant wealth and great success in life. He thanked all the sponsors and the devotees of both programs for their support and active participation. He also acknowledged the dedicated service of Bhajan singers Narendra Acharya, Rita Patel, and Sangeeta. He also appreciated the services of Vineet Kapoor and team who prepared Maha Prasadam and served to all the devotees on both celebrations.