Varlaxmi Vrat

The Hindu festival, 'Vara Lakshmi Vrata' is celebrated on the last Friday of the bright fortnight in the month of 'Shravan',in hindu calendar.It is also called Aadi, which corresponds to the English months,July-August.The Varalakshmi Vratam is an important pooja performed by many women,in the states of Andhra Pradesh,Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.This Vratam is marked with strict observance of certain practices and austerities.

Sri (Wealth), Bhu (Earth), Sarasvati (learning), Priti (love),Kirti (Fame), Santi (Peace), Tushti(Pleasure) and Pushti(Strength)are the eight forces and energies which are recognised as the "Ashta Lakshmis" (the eight Lakshmis) by the Hindus.Vishnu is called the 'Ashta Lakshmi Padhi',means the asylum for the eight-Lakshmis.

In fact, the Lord Vishnu radiates these forces from him,which are worshipped as Lakshmis, since abstract force is beyond the comprehension of the ordinary people.It is beleived that the worship of Lakshmi gives the energies of health, wealth and prosperity.Since Lakshmi is a woman,she will surely sympathise with women and bless them with these forces and energies.Hence this Vratam is observed largely by women, invoking the blessings of Lakshmi on them and their families.This vratam has also blessed many women with children.

Rituals

On this festival,the house is cleaned and rangoli is drawn in front of the houses.Women and girls tie yellow threads around their wrists. Thamboolam is given to other married women, who are invited to the house on the occasion.The woman performing the puja observes a fast and different types of sweets are offered to the Goddess. A coconut smeared with turmeric and vermilion on the kalasha (bronze or silver vessel) is decorated the with a new cloth.

Some people decorate the kalasha with many kinds of jewels to make it look more beautiful. They place this kalasha on a plate filled with rice.A kalash filled with rice or water, coins, turmeric, a whole lime, betel leaf and nut is prepared.The Goddess Lakshmi decorated with jewels is placed against the coconut.The next morning the Goddess is welcomed to the specially installed pandal ,by singing the songs of "VaraLakshmi".

The main puja begins by worshiping Lord Ganesha,who is believed to remove all the obstacles and evil forces.Later, goddess Mahalakshmi is invoked into the kalasha.Then a couple of torams (a bunch of nine threads with nine knots) is worshipped and tied one to the kalasha while the other one is tied around the right hand wrist of the lady performing the pooja.

Later,the "Lakshmi Ashtottara Shatanamam" is chanted,followed by offering nine varieties of delicacies including both sweets and savories.Finally,prayers are sung, in the praise of goddess Varalakshmi and also other married woman is invited honouring her as a goddess Varalakshmi and offer her sweets. In the evening,all the neighboring laides are invited to their homes and "Tamboolam"(an offering consisting of betel leaves, fruits, betel nuts, vermilion, turmeric and dakshina) is offered to them.The women together sing the songs in praise of goddess Varalakshmi.

The Legend

* On one occasion, Parvati and Parameswara were engrossed in playing a game of chess.Parvati was winning all the games succesively,but Parameswara claimed the victory of each game.Parvati was very much upset with this and she wanted a refree to witness the victory.A creation of Parameswara,named 'Chitranemi' was made the refree. However,he everytime sided Parameshwara with partiality.This provoked Parvati's anger and she cursed Chitranemi that he should become a leper for misusing the power and discharging the duties in most unfair manner.

When Chitranemi apologised and begged for Parvati's forgiveness and Parameswara added his entreaties to it,her anger got cooled down and she the further added that he would be cured of his disease by observing the VaraLakshmi Vratam.On observing the Vratam, Chitranemi got rid of the dangerous disease.

* As per one more legend,Mata Lakshmi is said to aapeared in the dream of a pious woman named, Sarmadi,who was living in the city of Kuntinapura in Magadha (Bihar),India.Mata lakshmi expressed her satisfaction at her devotion to her children.

When she got up from her sleep, she took a bath and worshipped Lakshmi to ensure her blessings.When the other women came to know of her dream and her getting blessed by Mata Lakshmi, they also started to worship Lakshmi.Soon,the custom speard over the whole capital and the VarLakshmi Vratam was observed by all the women.

* In one more legend,the kingdom of old Magadha desh,had a prosperous town,named Kundina.where lived a brahmin woman named Charumati with her husband.She devotedly served her husband and her parents-in-law.Goddess Mahalakshmi got impressed with her and appeared in her dream and asked her to worship Vara-Lakshmi,who is the another form of Lord Vishnu's consort, Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth.

Charumati was also advised to worship and observe the Friday of Shravana month preceding the full moon day.When Charumathi told about her dream to her family and others,she was encouraged by all to perform the Vratam.Soon,several other women also joined her in performing the pooja in a traditional way and worshipped Goddess Varalakshmi.

The women made offerings of delicious feast with utmost devotion.As they circumbulated (went round) the deity in prayer,glittering jewelry appeared on the bodies of these women and they got prospered very soon.The women rewarded the brahmin priest,who guided to perform the pooja. The women were highly thankful to Charumathi who shared her dream of VarLakshmi Vratam and helped them become prosperous.

This Vratam has no restriction of any caste or creed.It is also learned that this Vratam is being observed by the women of this modern world,who are getting the positive results of this VaraLakshmi Vratam.