Vara Lakshmi Vratham or Maha Lakshmi Puja
Vara Lakshmi Vratham
Varalaksmi Vratham or Mahalakshmi Puja is an auspicious day in Hindu religion to worship Goddess Lakshmi for Wealth and Prosperity. The Vara Lakshmi Vratham is celebrated on the Second Friday of the Shravana month(this year on12th August 2016) before the full moon day as per the Hindu calendar.It is celebrated by the married women for the welfare of the family members, especially for the husband and to get children as per the wishes of the women with utmost devotion. Those who cannot perform it on that day, can perform on any other Friday of that month. It is an important Vratham for married women.
Puja Timings for the Vara Lakshmi Vratham:
There is a fixed Lagnam to worship Goddess Lakshmi which is considered the most appropriate time and believed that if Lakshmi Puja is done during that fixed Lagna would bestow long lasting wealth and prosperity.There are four Puja timings in a day when fixed Lagnam prevails, and among these the evening time which overlaps with Pradosha Kaalam is considered the most appropriate to worship Goddess Lakshmi.The fixed Lagnas are as follows:
1)In Simha Lagnam from 06:32 to 08:34 (morning)
2)In Vrishchika Lagnam from 12:41 to 14:53 (afternoon)
3)In Kumbha Lagnam from 18:54 to 20:36 (evening)
4)In Vrishabha Lagnam from 24:05 to 26:08 (midnight)
All these four Lagnams have minimum 2 hours duration time when puja can be done to Goddess Lakshmi.
Origin of Vara Lakshmi Devi:
Varalakshmi devi is the consort of Lord Vishnu, and one of the forms of Goddess Mahalakshmi. She was incarnated from the milky ocean known as 'Kshira Sagara' and thus have the complexion of milky ocean and adorns similar colour clothes.Legend says that,this puja was suggested by Lord Shiva to his consort Parvathi to gain wealth, prosperity and happiness for their family.
Legend Behind The Vara Lakshmi Vratham:
Before celebrating Vara Lakshmi Vratham, one must know the legend behind it. Once there used to live a Brahmin woman named Charumathi in the Kingdom of Magadha. She was living in a small village of Kundina with her husband. She was very much devoted to her family to a great extent. It was one fine day that Goddess Lakshmi being impressed by her devotion appeared in her dream one night and suggested Charumathi to worship Vara Lakshmi and seek blessings to fulfill all of her wishes. Vara Lakshmi is none other than Goddess Lakshmi, the consort of Lord Vishnu. Goddess Lakshmi is considered the Goddess of Wealth. It was this day that Goddess prescribed her to fast on Friday in the month of Shravana, preceding the Full Moon Night ie.Shravana Pournami.
When Charumathi woke up early in the morning,she narrated about her dream to her family members and everyone encouraged her to perform this Vara Lakshmi Puja. The other women in the village also showed interest and joined her in the Puja. They all performed this Puja with utmost devotion and heart and seeked the blessings of Vara Lakshmi Devi.
The Significance of Vara Lakshmi Vratham:
Varalakshmi Vratham is celebrated mostly in the South India like Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. This Puja is performed mostly by married women for the well-being of their husband and entire family members.This is the most important festivals of all for women and is celebrated and observed mainly by the women with a great belief that worshipping Goddess Vara Lakshmi on this day is equivalent to worshipping 'Ashtalakshmi',the eight forces of energy known as Wealth (Sri), Earth (Bhu), Learning (Saraswati), Love (Priti), Fame (Kirti), Peace (Shanti), Pleasure (Tushti) and Strength (Pushti).They are all together knwon as Ashta Lakshmi or Eight Lakshmi.These eight forces are worshipped as Lakshmi, as the eight abstract forces cannot be identified, so they are identified and personified in Goddess Maha Lakshmi.
Ashta Lakshmi offered Puja on Vara Lakshmi Vratham
The other eight divine forms of Goddess Lakshmi or Ashta Lakshmi are as follows:
1. Aadi-Lakshmi or Maha Lakshmi(Prime Goddess of Ashta Lakshmi)
2. Dhana-Lakshmi or Aishwarya Lakshmi (Goddess of Prosperity and Wealth)
3. Dhaanya-Lakshmi (Goddess of Food grains)
4. Gaja-Lakshmi (Elephant Goddess)
5. Santana-Lakshmi (Goddess of Progeny or childbirth)
6. Veera-Lakshmi or Dhairya Lakshmi (Goddess of Valor and Courage)
7. Vidya-Lakshmi (Goddess of Knowledge)
8. Vijaya-Lakshmi or Jaya Lakshmi (Goddess of Victory)
Celebration on this Day:
The preparations for the festival starts a day before the celebration.On the day of Varalakshmi Vratham, Women give a thorough wash to their homes in advance to the day and decorate their front yards with mango leaves(toranam on house doors) and put rangolis (colorful designs on the floor with rice powder). The women get ready for puja after bath wearing new clothes and jewellery. The Kalasham is filled with water or raw rice and is placed on a swastik symbol rangoli with turmeric and kumkum and have mango leaves and coconut on it ,which is a must for the puja of Varalakshmi devi.The items used to fill the kalasham for the puja vary from region to region and includes turmeric, comb, mirror, small black bangles and black beads.It is then that a coconut is smeared with turmeric and used to close the mouth of the Kalasham upon which an image of Goddess Lakshmi is fixed or the image of Lakshmi is drawn using turmeric powder and put kumkum on it. Now this Kalasham symbolically represents and is accepted as Goddess Lakshmi to which puja is performed.
Vara Lakshmi Puja
Nowadays,in market we are getting ready made Kalashams and face of Goddess Lakshmi to which women decorate by putting new clothes,jeweleries and flowers like Lotus,Rose,Chamanthi,etc are meant sacred to offer to the Goddess. People who don't have a custom of keeping Kalash can perform puja to the photo of the Goddess. Before starting the puja women tie a sacred yellow thread known as Kankanam(thread tied with betel leaf or mango leaf or turmeric piece)or Dorak on their left hand.On this day women perform puja first to the Lord Ganesha(the wet haldi idol kept on betel leaf),then a Golden Rupa(Lakshmi kaasu) with kumkumarchana. The Mantras like Ashtalakshmi Stotram,Ashtalakshmi Ashtotaram,Lakshmi Sahasranamavali,Shri Suktham,Kanaka Dhara Stotram,etc...related to Goddess Lakshmi are chanted to make her happy and seek her blessings.
Different types of Prasadams or Naivedyam are prepared for the Goddess like Pulihora(rice made up of tamarind or lemon),Daddojanam(curd rice)Booralu(sweet made of jaggery,chana dal and dosa batter),Payasam,Vada(Urad dal),Chakrapongali(sweet made of jaggery,rice and ghee),Kesari(sooji rawa, dhalia or wheat rawa),Vada pappu(soaked moong dal),Panakam(a mixture of Jaggery,Black pepper,and Cardamom in water)etc.... The preparation of prasadam varies from region to region. After puja is done women invite their neighbouring laides in the evening to their homes and offer them 'Tamboolam' or 'Vayanam', an offering which consists of betel leaves, fruits, betel nuts, kumkum, turmeric,senagalu(soaked chana),flowers,glass bangles and dakshina (money) by which they get the blessings of Goddess Lakshmi on them, their husbands and their children.
Vayanam or Tamboolam given to women after Puja
Married women does puja to Varalakshmi devi on this day, with a belief that the goddess bestows boons and fulfills all desires of her devotees. Hence the goddess is well known as Vara + Lakshmi i.e. Goddess Varalakshmi who bestows boons.The Varalakshmi Vratham fasting is observed on the Second Friday during Shravana Shukla Paksha which falls just few days ahead of Rakhi and Shravana Purnima.
Happy Varalakshmi Vratham to all the Women!
Image Courtesy:bujjiphotos,tasty appetite,nandyala.org