Thursday, Octobery 29

Today is Thursday of WEEK 10 of the class. If you have not turned in your Week 9 Storybook assignment yet, you may still do that UNTIL NOON today for partial credit. For those of you in Myth-Folklore or World Lit, Thursday morning, until noon, is the grace period if you forgot to do any of the assignments that were due on Wednesday.

Storybook Stack. I've still got some items left in the Storybook stack. You can check to make sure you assignment is in the stack here. If you turned something on Monday, you should have comments back from me; if you turned something in on Tuesday or Wednesday, it is probably still in the stack, and I will get to it today or tomorrow, Friday. If you want to get comments back before the weekend, please turn your assignment in by Friday at noon so that I can get comments back to you on Friday afternoon.

My Thursday schedule. Today, Thursday, happens to be the day this week when I have some out-of-office appointments that will keep me away from my computer for at least part of the day. As a result, I may be more slow to answer your emails, but if you have a question about anything, send me an email, and I will get an answer to you by the end of the day on Thursday at the latest.

October 29: Tulsi Vivah. This year (2009), the Hindu holiday of Prabodini Ekadasi in honor of Vishnu falls on October 29, and it is also the occasion for the celebration of the Tulsi Vivah, the symbolic wedding of Tulsi (which is also the name of the basil plant) to Vishnu in the form of the Shaligram (a dark-colored stone, symbolizing Vishnu). There is an amazing legend that accompanies this ritual, and the story will probably remind those of you in Indian Epics about the legend of Ahalya - but this time it is Vishnu in disguise! Here is the story: A woman named Tulsi was married to a demon named Jalandhar. Jalandhar had obtained a boon from the gods that he would remain immortal as long as his wife was chaste. So, without fear, he tormented the gods and the holy men. In desperation, they prayed to Vishnu for help. Vishnu took on the form of Jalandhar and stayed with Tulsi, who did not realize he had replaced her husband. He was able to seduce her, which meant Jalandhar was able to be killed. When Jalandhar died, Tulsi found out the truth: Vishnu had deceived her. Tulsi was angry and turned herself into a basil plant. Vishnu decreed that he would marry Tulsi (basil) in a symbolic ritual: in the Tulsi Vivah, Vishnu in the form of a dark-colored stone called the Shaligram marries Tulsi, the basil plant. This sacred symbolic marriage is performed every year and marks the beginning of the Hindu wedding season. Here is a photo taken of a Tulsi Vivah ritual - if you look closely, you can see the Shaligram stone representing Vishnu!