Sri Vara Lakshmi Vratam

Friday, August 16, 2013

 

Varalakshmi Vratam is an important prayer to propitiate Goddess Varalakshmi (Mahalakshmi) who is the abode of all mangalam (auspiciousness), prosperity and wealth.This Hindu festival is celebrated on Shravana Shukla Shukra Varam, which is the last Friday of the Ashadha month (Shravana masam) which corresponds to the Western months of July-August. It is also the Friday immediately following the full moon day (Purnima).

"Varalakshmi" means that Mahalakshmi is ever ready to grant boons (varam) to her true devotees and to fulfill their noble wishes when we invite her into our home and worship her on Varalakshmi Vratam.

 

Asta Lakshmi

 

  • Adi Lakshmi : Four-armed, carries a lotus and a white flag - She is the supreme mother goddess and therefore she is also known as Adi Shakti and she existed before everything else. She is beyond description and understanding. She is the womb that contains all life.
  • Aishwarya Lakshmi : Four-armed, in white garments, carries two lotuses - Prosperity Lakshmi. Goddess of riches.
  • Dhana Lakshmi : Six-armed, in red garments, carries chakra (discus), shankha (conch), kalasha (water pitcher with mango leaves and a coconut on it) or Amrita kumbha (a pitcher containing Amrita- elixir of life), bow and arrow, a lotus and an arm in abhaya mudra with gold coins falling from it to represent provider of money and wealth.
  • Dhanya Lakshmi : Eight-armed, in green garments, carries two lotuses, gada (mace) paddy crop, sugarcane, bananas, other two hands in abhaya mudra and varada mudra to represent provider of agricultural wealth.
  • Gaja Lakshmi : Four-armed, in red garments, carries two lotuses, other two arms in abhaya mudra and varada mudra, surrounded by two elephants bathing her with water pots. Represents provider of animal wealth such as cattle and elephants. Can also be interpreted as giver of royal power.
  • Santana Lakshmi : Six-armed, carries two kalashas (water pitcher with mango leaves and a coconut on it), sword, shield, a child on her lap, a hand in abhaya mudra and the other holding the child with a lotus. This represents giver of progeny or one that bestows offspring.
  • Veera Lakshmi : Eight-armed, in red garments, carries chakra, shankh, bow, arrow, trishul , gold bar or book. Bestower of valour in battles and courage and strength for overcoming difficulties in life.
  • Vijaya Lakshmi : Eight-armed, in red garments, carries chakra, shankh, sword, shield, lotus, pasha, other two hands in abhaya mudra and varada mudra. Giver of victory, not only in battles but also in conquering obstacles in the way of success.

Eight forces or energies are recognized during Varalaksmi Vratam and they are known as Sri (Wealth), Bhu (Earth), Sarasvati (Learning), Priti (Learning), Kirti (Fame), Shanti (Peace), Tushti (Pleasure) and Pushti (Strength). ), Priti (Love), Kirti (Fame), Shanti (Peace),

) and Pushti (Strength).

Each one of these forces is called a Lakshmi and all the eight forces are called the Asta Lakshmis or the eight Lakshmis. Vishnu is also called Asta Lakshmi Padhi which is equivalent to saying that he is the abode for the eight Lakshmis or forces. Vishnu who represents the preservative aspect of the universe, radiates these forces from within Him. These forces are personified and worshipped as Lakshmis. The different types of boons granted by Mahalakshmi by performing the Varalakshmi puja are Dhan (Money), Dhanyam (Gains or Food), Arogyam (Health), Sampath (Property), Sathsanthanam (Virtuous offspring) and Dheerga saumangalyam (Longevity of the husband) and these depend on the rythmic play of these Asta Lakshmi forces.

 

There are a number of legendary stories about the history and significance of Varalakshmi Vratam.

Legend# 1

Goddess Parvati once asked Lord Shiva to recommend her a vratam, which would be beneficial to the women folk on earth who seek prosperity, good health and general welfare for their family. Lord Shiva informed the Goddess about Varalakshmi Vratam (as mentioned in Skanda Puranam). To illustrate the sanctity of this vratam, Lord Shiva then narrated the story of a brahmin woman named Charumati who lived in the town of Kundina, located in the kingdom of Magadha.

Charumati was a true pativrata (devoted to husband in all sincerity). She also devotedly served her husband's family. Pleased with her piety and true and undivided devotion to her husband, Mahalakshmi appeared to her in a dream and advised her to undertake the Varalakshmi Vratam to fulfill her wishes on the auspicious day of Shravana Shukla Shukra Varam. In the same dream, Charumati chanted the following sloka in praise of Mahalakshmi and then performed pradakshima (circumambulation which consists of walking around in a 'circle' around the deity as a form of worship).

                                                    
"Padmaasane Padmakare sarva lokaitha pujithe

Narayana priyadevi supreethaa bhava sarvada"

The next day, Charumati narrated the dream to her husband and his family and found them encourging her to perform the puja. She also narrated the dream to all other women folk in her town who also decided to join Charumati in performing the vratam. On the auspicious day, they performed Varalakshmi vratam as prescribed to Charumati by Mahalakshmi. With deep devotion, they prayed and offered prasadam of sweet dishes to the Goddess. Then some miracles took place. Dazzling gold ornaments appeared on them and as they stepped outside, they saw their houses decked with riches and gold with a golden chariot awaiting them outside Charumati’s house. The women expressed their gratitude to Charumati who shared her dream and helped them become prosperous. Since then. this puja has come to be practiced annually by women. Done with devotion, it is said that boons would be granted and thus many wishes would be realized.

Legend# 2

On one occasion, Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva were engaged in a game of chess. Parvati was winning game after game, but Lord Shiva is said to have claimed the victory after each game. Not amused by Lord Shiva's antics, Goddess Parvati requested an umpire to referee the games. Chitranemi, who was created by Lord Shiva was chosen as the umpitre.. As a creation of Lord Shiva, Chitranemi sided with him unjustly. This provoked Parvati’s anger and she cursed Chitranemi that he should become a leper for performing his duty in an unfair manner.

When Chitranemi begged for Parvati’s forgiveness, she is said to have relented and modified the curse by adding that he would be cured of his leprosy by observing the Varalakshmi Vratam. By doing this Chitranemi was cured of the disease.

 

The Worship

The rituals of worship during the Varalakshmi Vratam differ from region to region in India, but they all have the same basic format. The devotee begins the day with a holy purification bath, and wears clean clothes. The puja area is decorated with kolam (rangoli). A geometrical design known as mandalam is then drawn on the clean surface of the floor with a picture of a lotus upon it. A sacred water pitcher (kalasha) is filled with pure water and rice (akshata), topped with fresh mango leaves, and a coconut (unbroken, with its kudimi on) smeared with turmeric powder is placed on top. Sandalwood paste and kumkumm are also applied to the kalasha, and a cloth is tied around it before placing it on the mandalam. Some people further beautify the kalasha with a picture of Varalakshmi drawn on it and decorated with jewels.

After performing the initial worship of Lord Ganesha to seek removal all obstacles, Varalakshmi is invoked. Fresh flowers and grains are used in the worship, indicating growth and prosperity. Prayers are offered to the kalasha. A toram (which consists of nine threads and nine knots) is tied to the Goddess. The thread known as raksha is then worshipped. Now the main worship of Varalakshmi begins, with a second worship of the sacred thread. Finally, it is tied around the right hand of the worshipper. Alankaranam (adornment of deity) with jewelery is performed and saree offered together with prasadam/ naivedyam of different varieties of fruit and thamboolam – betel leaf, areca nut, flowers, fruit, turmeric, kumkum, coin, khajoor. Prayers in the form of Lakshmi Ashtottarashatanama and Sahasranama are then chanted. The puja concludes with the reading of the Charumati legend and the chanting of mantras and slokas in praise of Varalakshmi followed by arati.


A Special Vara Mahalakshmi Homa with Lotus flowers will be performed at Amma's Penusila ashram in India on Friday, August 16.  Please click here for sponsorship details.

 

Let the Divine Mother grant you boons and shower you with prosperity and happiness by participating in this homa.

 

 

              Om Shanti Shanti Shanti

               May All Be Peaceful

              Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu

                 May All Be Happy



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