‘Thulabharam’ was in the news after Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered the ritual with lotus flowers at Sree Krishna Temple in Guruvayur. The ceremony, which involves weighing a devotee on a balance, is a major ritual in several Hindu temples. While the devotee sits on one side of the balance, an item of equal or more weight is place on the other side. This item is then offered to the deity.
As per belief, the devotee is submitting himself to the deity through this ritual. Conducting the ritual without making any wish to the deity is considered ideal. However, devotees can hope to fulfill many of their needs by this offering. The item kept on the balance differs according to the need. Thulabharam is offered seeking a relief from distress, for achieving a dream or deliverance from an ailment.
As per belief, it was Lord Krishna who conducted the ritual for the first time. Krishna sat on one platform of the balance. Several items were placed on the other side but none could move the platform on which Krishna sat. Finally, when the Lord’s wife Rugmini Devi took a leaf of sacred basil and reverentially placed it on the other side, the platform on which Krishna sat was raised.
According to the Puranas, the thulabharam was meant to demonstrate Rugmini Devi’s boundless love for Krishna. The episode stressed that the devotion with which an item is offered is more important than the item itself.
Devotees can keep any auspicious object of their liking on the balance. However, each offering produces a different result. The following are among the main items placed on the balance during thulabharam and the benefits they bring:
Lotus flowers: Long life; profit at work or advancement related to an employment; improvement of mental strength
Paddy, rice flakes: Escape from poverty.
Jaggery: Relief from a stomach ailment
Sugar: Recovery from diabetes.
‘Kadali’ banana: Recovery from diseases
Sesame seeds: Long life, relief from the curse of Saturn.
‘Manjadi’ (red lucky) seeds: Mental peace, long life
Elephant foot yam: Relief from skin diseases
Salt: Prosperity, recovery from skin diseases and relief from the evil eye.
Coins: Progress in business
Butter: General progress