Varalakshmi Vratham~वरलक्ष्मी व्रत - Importance of Varalakshmi Vratam
The month of Sravanamasam marks the beginning of festival season in Andhra Pradesh. Varalakshmi Vratam is one of the eight most prominent and widely celebrated festivals. It is the festival of prosperity and well being. Varlakshmi refers to Goddess Lakshmi who grants boon to all her devotees and vratam meaning prayer offered to God. Thus this festival of Varalakshmi Vratam connotes prayer offered to Goddess Lakshmi, the Hindu Goddess of wealth and riches, the one who bestows her worshipers.
Varalakshmi, the household Goddess of most Hindu families is portrayed as women of golden complexion, with four hands, sitting or standing on a full bloomed red lotus. The lotus symbolizes fertility, purity and beauty. Her four hands denote righteousness, desire, wealth and liberation from life. Gold coins are seen pouring from her hand, signifying that her devotees are conferred with wealth and divine blessings, Goddess Lakshmi is seen wearing a gold embroidered red Saree, where red symbolizes luck and gold represents affluence. As a Goddess of wealth, she is always seen decked with opulent gold jewellery. Like Goddess Mahalakshmi, who signifies aiswaryam, South Indian women during all puja and other religious occasions, customarily dress themselves in gold jewellery to impersonate goddess Lakshmi. There is even a trend of purchasing gold jewellery for occasion like Varalakshmi Vratham among certain sections of the society as it is considered appropriate and auspicious.
Varalakshmi Nomu believed to be the day in which Goddess Lakshmi was born from Sea. Praying to Goddess on this day is said to be equivalent to worshiping Ashtalakshmi (the eight goddess of wealth, earth, learning, love, fame, peace, pleasure, and strength) especially Dhanalakshmi. That is the reason why families also have a habit of buying gold jewellery or gold coins during Varalakshmi Vratam, as a sign of welcoming Dhanalakshmi into their houses. Varalakshmi Vratam is performed by married women for the welfare of their husband, children and household. It is believed that if one worships Goddess Lakshmi on this day, she will present the entire family the gift of health, wealth, peace and happiness.
After cleansing themselves, married women prepare the puja room for the celestial celebrations. The front yard of the house and the puja room where the mandapam will be set is cleanly mopped and decorated with muggu bordered with a thick maroon border. A mandapam or a small wooden structure resembling temple tower is set on the main kolam inside the puja room and is decorated with Young plantain trees and Mango leaves inside mandapam, a bed of raw rice is set on the plantain leaves and it is on this rice bed Lakshmi is placed. The holy kalasam is prepared and decorated as the Goddess.
One method of making kalasam exists where only gold jewellery is placed within the kalasam and is partially filled with holy water from any river. This method is gaining ground among the society as this also adds to the families riches in the form of jewellery. After the holy kalasam is filled, it is topped with mango leaves and a coconut smeared all over with turmeric powder. To this coconut, face mould of Mahalakshmi Ammavaru is fixed. The kalasam, now symbolically representing Goddess Lakshmi is further decorated with gold ornaments old and new, silk and fresh flowers. After karpoora harathi, kalasam is carried from the front door to the pooja room, placed inside the Mandapam and Devi is invoked in the kalasam. From now on Kalasam is called as Devi. On the next day, Lord Ganesh is worshipped first and then begins the Varalakshmi puja. The puja usually comprises of Kalasa puja, archana, ashtothra puja and Kanakana puja. Ladies wear the kankanam (yellow thread) in their right hand wrist. After worship Thamboolam consisting of betel leaf, areca nut, turmeric, gold coin or currency, blouse piece and flowers are given to married women who in turn bless the household. Let us all in this propitious day, welcome Goddess Mahalakshmi, the abode of all auspiciousness and prosperity into our lives.