Varalakshmi Vratham~वरलक्ष्मी व्रत - Preparation for Varalakshmi Vratham
Ancient texts say that those who perform the puja have to observe fast on the eve of Varalakshmi Vratam. The preparation for the puja begins few days before the actual puja day. Women shop gold ornaments and new clothes (that are placed before the Goddess Lakshmi on the puja day). Goddess Lakshmi loves cleaner and tidier homes. Hence, it is a general practise to make the house clean and tidy the day before the puja day itself. Puja related vessels are cleaned and polished. The actual puja day will be a very busy one. Women gets up early in the morning (during Brahma Kalam) and take bath. The household should be cleaned and the entrances of the house are smeared with turmeric powder. Kum kum marks are applied. A small Mantapam (or mandapam) is set up by drawing rangoli. Rice is spread on the rangoli and a kalasa is placed on the rice. The kalasa comprises of a small pot on which a coconut is placed. The coconut is applied with turmeric and is richly decorated with kumkum. Atop the coconut, a cloth is placed to look like a cap. The features of the Goddess are also drawn on the coconut to make the image of Her to facilitate worship. Jewelry is put round the coconut. Flowers are used to enhance the decoration.
Lord Ganesh is worshipped first which is the usual practice before any puja or ritual. The main puja of Varalakshmi Vratam is performed after that. Special eateries (called pindi vantalu) are cooked. According to the legend, a brahmin woman Charumathi, an ideal housewife serving her in laws and husband dutifully has a dream in which Goddess Mahalakshmi appears and asks her to perform puja to Varalakshmi. She, therefore, organizes the puja and invites her friends and relatives to the puja, after which Charumathi as well as all those who attend were bestowed wealth.