Women play a significant role in the running of their homes, while many of them also go to work, earn money, and support their families financially. Thus, they carry heavy responsibilities on their shoulders and so may not get time for religious activities or spiritual pursuits. However, there are a few occasions that provide them opportunities to earn divine grace, and one of those is Varalakshmi Vratham.
Varalakshmi Vratham is a ceremonious worship dedicated to Goddess Vara Lakshmi. ‘Vara’ is a boon, and Varalakshmi is the boon-bestowing aspect of Lakshmi, the supreme Goddess of wealth, fortune, auspiciousness, love, and joy. This festival is unique in nature, as it is celebrated exclusively by women with piety, faith, and enthusiasm. Also known as Vara Mahalakshmi Pooja, this festival is confined to the Southern states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana.
The second Friday of the waxing phase of the Moon in the month of Shravana (July-August) or the Friday falling before the Full Moon day is observed as Varalakshmi Vratham. Fridays are special for Lakshmi worship, and the Varalakshmi Vratham Fridays remain all the more so. Hence, the prayers offered to Lakshmi on this occasion are hailed as equivalent to worshiping all the 8 Ashtalakshmi aspects of the Goddess and receiving their combined and profuse grace.
Varalakshmi Vratham 2021, the festival of this year, is celebrated on 20th August 2021.
According to scriptures, none other than Lord Shiva himself spoke about the greatness of Varalakshmi Vratham to his consort Parvathi, who herself observed it for receiving the highly beneficial blessings of Goddess Lakshmi. So, it is no surprise that women, especially married women, in large numbers are offering this worship to seek the grace of the universal divine Mother Lakshmi.
In this festival, prayers are principally offered to an image of Varalashmi, which is set up exclusively for the occasion in the form of her face, sculpted in a sheet made of silver or other material. This is installed on top of a water-filled or rice-filled sacred pot called Kalasam and just in front of a coconut placed on the pot. The Goddess image and the pot are both well decorated with turmeric, kumkum, sandal paste, dress materials, jewels, flowers, etc. This Goddess image, along with the sacred pot, is worshiped as the deity on the sacred occasion, in whose praise hymns are chanted and prayers are offered.
Saradu, the threads made yellow with the application of turmeric paste also form part of the worship. Each of these threads is prepared with 9 knots at equal intervals and contains a flower tied at the center. These threads are kept in the Pooja. So blessed, these are worn by the ladies at the end of the worship as a protective shield.
Many special food items are also prepared and offered to the deity during this Pooja.
Varalakshmi Vratham Pooja includes in it many efficacious spiritual practices, which are observed religiously by the women. These consist of austerities, chanting of hymns, and worships.
Vratham generally refers to the austerity of fasting. Therefore, the women observing Varalakshmi Vratham should preferably refrain from taking any food right from the morning and perform the entire worship on an empty stomach. They can break the fast only on the successful completion of the Pooja, which is done by accepting the offerings made to the Goddess.
The day’s worship begins with Ganapathi Pooja when Ganesha is propitiated with hymns for a successful Pooja. Then Varalakshmi is welcomed to the household with recitations in her praise, and worship is offered to her. Powerful hymns are then chanted, seeking her grace for the devotees and families. Then her 108 and 1000 sacred names are taken with devotion with the chanting of the potent Ashtothra and Sahasranama hymns. Archanas, the light, and sound ceremonies are also done, with the offering of flowers to the Goddess.
The Pooja concludes with Arti worship and showing lighted camphor to the Goddess. The offering of food items made especially for the occasion and fruits are then made to the deity. Sundal or Chana forms an integral part of these and are consumed with great devotion and relish as divine Prasad, as the end of the Pooja.
Saradu, the yellow threads sanctified in the Pooja, are distributed among the women who wear it on their right wrist. Apart from bestowing divine protection, these are believed to bless them with long and healthy lives for their husbands. The auspicious ‘Thanmoolam’ is then offered to the women assembled there.
It is believed that sincere prayers done to Goddess Lakshmi on this occasion with faith can bless the women and their families with eternal health, wealth, prosperity, peace, and joy.
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