Festival of south Indian Women: Varalakshmi Vratam
Vara Mahalakshmi Vrata is festival to please the Goddess Lakshmi, the consort of Lord Vishnu. Varalakshmi is the goddess who grants boons( vara). It is a very important puja performed by women in all south Indian states except Kerala. It is celebrated on second Friday in the month of Shravan, which is in august. This Shravan month is the favorite month of Lord Vishnu. This year it is celebrated on August 9th. It is believed that worshipping the goddess varalakshmi on this day is equal to worshipping the Ashtha Lakshmi, the eight manifestations of the goddess.
This festival goes by different names in different southern states. It is called Varalakshmi vratam, Varalakshmi Nombu, etc.
This festival also has a story behind it like any other festival. According to the story, there lived a woman called Charumathi in Amaravathi district, Maharastra. Impressed by her devotion to her family, the goddess Mahalakshmi appeared in her dream and asked her to worship Varalakshmi and seek her blessings to fulfill her wishes. When Charumathi explained her dream to her family members she was encouraged to worship Varalakshmi and many other women joined her in performing puja.
Another legend goes, this was Pooja performed by Parvathi to seek prosperity and happiness for the family. Thus all married women who sought boons for health, wealth and wisdom for family started performing this Puja.
As I mentioned earlier Varalakshmi is equal to all the eight Lakshmi. Each Lakshmi is recognized as Wealth, earth, wisdom, love, fame, peace, contentment and strength. All these eight forces together are called the Ashta Lakshmis.
- Aadi Lakshmi ( protector)
- Dhana Lakshmi ( wealth)
- Dhairya Lakshmi ( courage)
- Sowbhagya Lakshmi (prosperity)
- Vijaya Lakshmi ( victory)
- Dhanya Lakshmi (nourishment)
- Santaana Lakshmi ( fertility)
- Vidya Laksmi. ( wisdom)
This is a day celebrated by observing the ritualistic fast, that’s why it is varalakshmi vrat. A Kalash or a brass/silver pot, which represents the deity is decorated with a beautiful saree. A swastika is drawn on the pot with vermilion and sandal paste.
The pot is filled with raw rice or water, coins, five mango leaves, and beetle nut. This decoration varies from region to region.
The way it is celebrated also varies from region to region. But what is common is the Thambulam. It is an offering to all the women who come join the puja. It consists of betel leaf, betel nut, and a fruit. An aarti is performed in the evening, and the water from Kalash is sprinkled around the house and rice is cooked as prasadam the next day.
There are few myths, doubts around this Pooja. Like can a pregnant woman perform this Pooja? What are the rules for fasting? Is there a particular way to decorate kalasha, or perform puja? Let me answer a few. Anybody can perform puja including pregnant women, however, fasting is not advisable. For others, there are no rules for fasting. Usually, fasting begins early morning and ends when Pooja ends or till evening. If you missed varalakshmi vratam, it can be observed the following Friday or on Friday during Navaratri. There is no particular way to perform this puja. You can worship the way you normally do, but during Varalakshmi Vratam, Kalash is a must.
So, ladies, it is time to appease the goddess, Varamaha lakshmi, may she grants you all the boons. Thank god Its Friday..!!