Varalakshmi Vratam or Varamahalakshmi Vrat is a popular festival for Goddess Lakshmi. Devotees of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Maharashtra fast on this day to appease Goddess Lakshmi (Goddess of wealth and prosperity). Varalakshmi Vratam falls during Shukla Paksha of Hindu month Shravan and it is observed on the first Friday before Shravan Purnima.
Shravan Purnima is observed as Raksha Bandhan in most Indian states. Varalakshmi Vratam also happens to be the second Friday in Shravan month. Currently, it falls in the month of July or August in the gregorian calendar. This year Varalakshmi Vratham falls on 20th August 2021.
The Significance Of Vara Lakshmi Vratham
Vara in Sanskrit means boon and Lakshmi means wealth, thus the Goddess Varalakshmi blesses her devotees with boons they wish for. Varalakshmi Puja is performed by married women for the well-being of the husband and the other family members. It is believed that worshipping Goddess Vara-Lakshmi on this day is equivalent to worshipping Ashta-Lakshmi – the eight Goddesses of Wealth (Sri), Earth (Bhu), Learning (Saraswati), Love (Priti), Fame (Kirti), Peace (Shanti), Pleasure (Tushti) and Strength (Pushti). Each force is considered as Lakshmi and all 8 forces as Ashta Lakshmi. Lord Vishnu is also considered as the asylum for the Ashta Lakshmi.
The rainy season starts with Ashadha month, which 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, rice powder, 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.
The festival of Varalaxmi Vratam is celebrated by women in order to invoke the blessings of Goddess Lakshmi to be showered on the husbands and children of these women.
Varalakshmi Vratam Story
Once Goddess Parvati asked her husband, Lord Shiva, to help her with a ‘Vrat’ which makes people get relieved from sorrows and mangalya balam (husband’s long life). Then Lord Shiva will dole out the Pooja Vidhanam of ‘Varalakshmi Vratam‘ and also says that ladies who observe this vratam will stay happy and get relieved from all types of financial issues and health problems too.
It is also said that a highly pious housewife and devotee of Goddess Lakshmi, Charumati regularly offered prayers to the Goddess. Goddess Lakshmi was impressed by her devotion and appeared to her in the dream and asked Charumathi to worship Varalakshmi to fulfill all her wishes. Charumathi, narrated her dream to her family and other women along with the procedure to perform a pooja. As a result, many other women of the town also joined her in performing the pooja as narrated by goddess Lakshmi in the dream. Since then Varalakshmi Vratham was a practice by married women for the well-being of their family and for the long life of their husband.
Slowly, ‘Varalakshmi Vratam’ got spread all over and it became a traditional vidhi for all the married ladies to perform this Pooja every 2nd Friday of Sravana Masam.
The lady of the house should wake up early and after ablutions, bathe, wear a new dress, dress up and proceed for the Pooja. It is best if she can fast, but if unable to fast due to any reason, then she may have some fruits. Lord Ganesh should be prayed first, to clear all obstacles from the way. Kalasha (A copper/silver pot filled with sanctified water, the brim is covered with mango leaves and a coconut is placed on top). This is known as Kalasha and it has to be placed in a flat plate (or a new cloth) covered with white rice. Kalasha Pooja has to be performed then.
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 Devi.
It is essential to have a picture or a small statue of Goddess Lakshmi. This is to be placed on the main altar in the center position. Then she is to be invoked with ‘Sankalapa’, Placed (Sthapana), and prayed with all the Shodasha Upacharas (16 Upacharas – 16 essential forms of services). Then, Sri Lakshmi Sahastra Nama along with Sri Vishnu Sahastranama is recited. It is very important to note here that praying to Goddess Sri Lakshmi without praying to Lord Sriman Narayana (Who is Her Dear Husband and most beloved thing for Her) will not please her and She will not accept any such prayers offered to her. They are a Divine couples and must be always prayed together. Vrata is then followed by reciting or telling the above-told story to the other family members and friends attending the Pooja. After the Pooja is done, the prasadam that is offered to Goddess Lakshmi is then distributed among the family members.