What is ‘VARALAKSHMI VARTHAM’?
If married women in North celebrate Karwa Chauth with best of the finery, then the South Indian women are not left behind. They too, have the best of the reason to celebrate. They equally rejoice ‘Varalakshmi Vartham’ with religious prayers to Goddess Lakshmi and fasting.
Varalakshmi Vratham—is celebrated on the last bright fortnight during Ashadha (Adi), which usually falls in July-August. On this day, women pay obeisance to Goddess Lakshmi, the consort of Lord Vishnu. It is widely celebrated in many temples in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Among the numerous religious temples, it is highly popular at the seashore Ashtalakshmi Temple in Beasant Nagar. According to the legends, Lakshmi will enter the house of anyone who thinks of her and bless them. It is marked by strict observance of certain practices and austerities.
Legends of Varalakshmi Vratham’
According to legend, it is believed that Lord Parmeswara pronounced this puja. It was to be performed by his consort Parvati, to seek happiness for the entire family. This later on was followed 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.
Significance of Varalakshmi Vratham
The name ‘Vishnu’ means pervading everywhere. Goddess Lakshmi, consort of Vishnu, is symbolical of the forces found everywhere. There are eight forces or energies are recognised. These are known as Sri (Wealth), Bhu (Earth), Sarasvati (learning), Priti (love), Kirti (Fame), Santi (Peace), Tushti(Pleasure) and Pushti(Strength). Each one of these forces is called a Lakshmi and all the eight forces are called the Ashta Lakshmis, or the eight Lakshmis.
Varalakshmi Vratham Rituals and Customs
Varlakshmi Vartham pooja can be performed irrespective of caste and creed. Anyone can seek the blessings of Goddess Lakshmi. An evening prior to the festival, the preparations are carried out by married women. They clean and whitewash their homes. At the pandal, they fill bronze or silver kalasam (pot) with rice or water, coins, turmeric, a whole lime, betel leaf and nut. It is decorated with sandal paste and kumkum, with coconuts and mango leaves all smeared around.
They adorn Goddess Lakshmi with sparkling gold jewellery. A special aarti is performed at night with she is offered white Pongal as ritual offering. The next day, women sing beautifully the popular “Varalakshmi Raave ma intikki’ song to welcome Goddess Lakshmi. They begin the pooja by reciting Ganesha mantras, followed by the chanting of Lakshmi Sahasranamam and other slokas follows this.
After seeking the blessings, women and girls tie yellow threads called ‘saradu’ around their wrists. Thamboolam is given to other ‘sumangalis’ (married women) who are invited to the house that evening. The woman performing the puja observes a fast called ‘Nonbu Fast’. They eat only certain food items that are offered to the Goddess. After the pooja, the next day, holy water is sprinkled through out the house or the rice is added to the storage.