| Sri Varalakshmi Vratham
Sri Mahalakshmi Vratham also known as Varalaksmi Vratham is one of the holiest rituals in Hinduism. This year it falls on 20th August. This festival is very popular among married ladies. The Varalakshmi Vratham is to be performed on the Friday immediately following the full moon day (Purnima) in the auspicious month of Shravanam (corresponding to August - September). This Vratham is undertaken by the sumangalis (whose husbands are still living) for good progeny, good health, and wishing long life for the husbands
Lakshmi is symbolic of eight forces - wealth (sri), earth (bhu), learning (sarasvati), love
(priti), fame (kirti), peace (santi), pleasure (tushti), and strength (pushti). Each of these
forces is called a Lakshmi, and collectively they are known as Ashta Lakshmulu. Worship of Varalakshmi is equivalent to the puja for Ashta Lakshmulu. Since she is ever ready to grant boons to her true devotees, she is usually referred to as "Vara Lakshmi". Only a woman can sympathise with women. Lakshmi Devi is a goddess. So she will more readily sympathise with women. Hence this festival is observed by women, invoking the blessings of Lakshmi on them, their husbands and their children.
As the legend goes, this is a pooja that was pronounced by none other than Lord Parameswara to be
performed by his consort Parvathi to seek prosperity and happiness for the family. Thus it came to
be emulated by married women who sought boons (varam) for the health, wealth and knowledge for the entire family. In some cases, women prayed for being blessed with children.
On one occasion, Parvathi and Parameswara were engaged in a game of chess. Parvathi was winning game after game, but Parameswara is said to have claimed the victory at each games, wantonly, to her
intense chagrin. So Parvati wanted to have an umpire and one Chitranemi, a creation of Parameswara,
was chosen. As an underling of Parameswara, he sided with him most unjustly. This provoked Parvati's
anger and she cursed Chitranemi that he should become a leper for discharging his duty in most
unfair manner. When Chitranemi begged Parvati's forgiveness and Parameswara also added his entreaties to it, she is said to have relented and modified the curse by adding that he would be cured of his leprosy by observing the Vara Lakshmi Vrata. By doing this Chitranemi got rid of the loathsome disease.
In the kingdom of Magadha of yore, there lived a brahmin woman called Charumathi in a town named
Kundina. The prosperous town was the home of Charumathi and her husband. She devotedly served her husband and her parents-in-law. Impressed by her piety, Goddess Mahalakshmi appeared in her dream and asked her to worship Vara-Lakshmi (literally, boon granting - goddess of wealth) and seek to fulfill her wishes. Varalakshmi is yet another form of Lord Vishnu's consort, Lakshmi, the goddess
of wealth. Thus was prescribed the Friday of Sravana month preceding the full moon day for the
worship.When Charumathi explained her dream to her family, she found them encouraging her to perform the pooja. Many other women of the town also joined her in performing the pooja in a traditional way and offered many sweet dishes to the Goddess Varalakshmi. They prayed with deep devotion:
"Padmaasane Padmakare sarva lokaika poojithe
Narayana priyedevi supreethaa bhava sarvada"
The well dressed women made offerings of delicious feast with utmost devotion. As they went round
the deity in prayer, dazzling jewelry is said to have appeared as ornaments on the bodies of these
worshippers and their houses filled with riches. They rewarded the priest who assisted them in
performing the pooja and they all partook in the feast. The women expressed their gratitude to
Charumathi who shared her dream and helped them become prosperous. This pooja came to be practiced year after year by women. Done with devotion, it is said that boons would be granted and thus many wishes would be realized.
This pooja can be done by everyone with no restriction to caste or creed.
|Significance of the puja:
Rainy season starts with Ashadha month, that is followed by the month of Sravana. The onset of monsoon can cause fungal infection in the feet. The application of haldi (pasupu) for the feet during the Sravanam protects women from these infections.
The nutritious offerings of Varalakshmi Pooja - poornalu - consists of chana, jaggery, ricepowder and black gram dal. All these are rich in proteins. Even the sprouts of chana distributed in the perantam, are rich in C vitamin. All these give good health to the women, who usually neglect their food intake.
Many buy silver articles and gold jewelry during this puja. Thus money is saved from meaningless spending. Some people place 108 coins made of gold or silver or minted ones in puja and chant the ashtottara stotram. Later these coins are collectively packed and placed in the lockers. Observing the same every year is believed to increase their wealth and save one from bankruptcy and melt-downs. Think... this year's Varalakshmi Vratam could save us from the effects of melt-down. Lets pray for it too...