Festivals

Varalakshmi Vratham

Varalakshmi Vratham is a popular ritual observed by married women in south India and Maharashtra. This year, it falls on August 12. Goddess Lakshmi – the goddess of wealth and prosperity – is worshipped on this day.

Varalakshmi literally means the boon-granting goddess. Worshipping goddess Lakshmi on this day is equivalent to worshipping Ashtalaksmi – the eight goddesses of Wealth, Earth, Learning, Love, Fame, Peace, Pleasure, and Strength.

Varalakshmi Vratham lore

According to Hindu mythology, once goddess Parvati asked lord Shiva about a vratha that would be beneficial to women. Lord Shiva then mentioned the importance of Varalakshmi Vratham. The conversation on Varalakshmi Vratham between goddess Parvati and lord Shiva takes place in the Skanda Purana.

To illustrate the importance of the vratham, lord Shiva narrates the story of Charumati. Pleased with Charumati’s devotion to her husband and family, goddess Lakshmi appeared in her dream and asked her to perform the Varalakshmi Vratham.

The pious Charumati invited all her neighbours, friends and relatives and performed the Varalakshmi puja as directed by goddess Lakshmi. Soon after the puja, all the people who participated in the puja were blessed with wealth and prosperity.

According to another Hindu legend, the origin of Varalakshmi Vratham is associated with a game of dice played between lord Shiva and goddess Parvati. Goddess Parvati, who was winning all the games, was accused of cheating by lord Shiva. So, they decided to appoint Chitranemi, a Gana of lord Shiva, as the umpire.

Chitranemi ruled in favour of lord Shiva and this angered goddess Parvati who cursed him to become a leper. Lord Shiva asked his consort to forgive Chitranemi and she agreed to revoke the curse if he watched Varalakshmi Vratham performed by pious women. The tradition of Varalakshmi Vratham started from then onwards.

Though Varalakshmi puja falls on a Friday, the preparations begin on Thursday.

People wake up early in the morning on Friday and take a bath. The waking up time for the puja is the brahma muhurtham. Then the designated puja area and house is cleaned well and a beautiful ‘kolam’ or ‘rangoli’.

The puja

Next is the preparation of the ‘kalasam’ or ‘kalash’. A bronze or silver pot is selected and cleaned thoroughly and a swastika symbol drawn and it is smeared with sandalwood paste. The kalasam is filled with raw rice or water, coins, a single whole lime, five different kinds of leaves and beetle nut. The items used to fill the kalasam vary from region to region and include turmeric, comb, mirror, small black bangles and black beads.

The kalasam is sometimes covered with a cloth and mango leaves are placed on the mouth of the kalasam. Finally, a coconut smeared with turmeric is used to close the mouth of the kalasam. To this coconut, an image of Goddess Lakshmi is fixed or the image of Lakshmi is drawn using turmeric powder. Now the kalasam symbolically represents goddess Lakshmi.

The kalasam is usually placed on a bed of rice. First lord Ganesha is worshipped. Then begins the Varalakshmi puja. The puja consists of singing slokas dedicated to goddess Lakshmi like the ‘Lakshmi Sahasranamam’. Arati is performed to the kalasam. Different types of sweets are offered. Some people offer pongal. In some areas, women tie yellow thread on their hands.

The woman observing the vratham abstains from eating certain kinds of food and this varies from region to region. In some regions, women fast till the puja period.

Thamboolam – betel leaf, areca nut and slaked lime – is offered to women in the locality and in the evening an arati is offered.

The next day, after taking bath, the kalasam is dismantled and the water in the kalasam sprinkled in the house. If rice is used, then it is mixed with rice stock in the house.

Special prayers to be chanted on Varalakshmi Vratham day:

  • ‘Lakshmi Ashtotram’ and ‘Lakshmi Sahasranamam’

Varalakshmi nombu saradu or thread

  • Yellow thread is prepared with nine knots and a flower is placed in the centre. It is tied on the right hand.
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