Women have a special position in the family. Their devotion and sacrifices for their family are uncountable. They worship the God and try to appease through fasting and prayer. The Varalakshmi Vratam is a festival especially in which they worship goddess Lakshmi for family's prosperity and long life of husbands.
This festival is celebrated in the second week of the Shravan month on Friday that appears in either July or August. It is an important occasion for all the Hindu married women. It is mostly celebrated in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and some parts of Maharashtra. The Tamil meaning of this festival is a boon from goddess Lakshmi through fasting. The word 'Vara' means boon and Vratam is the kalash resembling the goddess. Fasting and praying to the goddess of wealth on this day is auspicious for married women. This single day worship is similar to worshipping all the eight goddesses that bestow wealth, happiness, life, education, love, fame, peace, strength and pleasure in one's life. This day is also special for those women who are facing fertility problems. It is said that appeasing goddess Lakshmi through prayer and fasting on this day helps in receiving a child boon.
Legend of Varalakshmi Vratam
India is as old as the universe. All festivals celebrated throughout the year have some significance to the ancient time. Thanks to the collection of the Vedas and Puranas that have served as a guide and preceptor to the Hindus in following festival rituals.
The history about this festival goes back to the ancient period of Magadha. A Brahmin married woman called Charumathi was the most devoted wife and family oriented person residing in village Kundina. Goddess Mahalakshmi was impressed with her devotion and appeared in her dream. The Goddess told her to worship Varalakshmi for longer life of her husband and the family's prosperity. The day on which Charumati has to pray to the goddess was also mentioned in the dream.
The family too was involved in her dream and helped to perform the pooja after knowing about her dream. Many women joined her after knowing about the dream and helped her in performing the pooja. Quickly, the story about the dream and the ceremony spread to the neighborhood and people started conducting special worship ceremony of Varalakshmi on the second Friday of the Shravan month.
Another story talks about the chess game between Lord Vishnu and his consort. His wife won every game. However, Vishnu claimed otherwise. In order to avoid the confusion, his wife called an umpire to judge the game. Since the umpire was loyal to Vishnu, he gave the decision in the Lord's favour. This unfair judgement incited the goddess to curse the umpire with leprosy. However, when the umpire explained the reason and asked for forgiveness, she guided him to perform the Varalakshmi Vratam that helped in getting out of the curse.
Varalakshmi Vratam Celebration
Lord Vishnu initiated this practice by asking Parvati to perform it for the happiness and prosperity of the family. Hence, all the married women started praying to the goddess of wealth, health, and prosperity on the second Friday. Many women conduct the prayer on this day to receive the boon of a child. The Skanda Purana says that Parvati once asked Shiva how women could be benefited. Shiva replied that let all women follow a fast and pray to goddess Lakshmi to fulfill their wishes. Since then, all the Hindu women on planet Earth conduct this ceremony.
Women get ready for the ceremony with a bath, and by donning a new dress and all the jewelry. They clean the home and make a decoration with Rangoli. Then, the sacred pot known as kalasha filled with water and rice is kept on the worship place. The pot is covered with mango and betel nuts leaves. A coconut is placed in the pot with a sacred mark of 'Swastik' drawn by vermilion. A pinch of turmeric is sprayed on in with hands. A medium-sized plate is taken filled with rice and the kalasha is kept on it.
First, Lord Ganesh is addressed to. After that, prayers are chanted to appease goddess Lakshmi with an aarti. The next procedure includes the pooja of a toran which is a sacred thread used in Hindu ritual ceremonies. One end of the thread is tied to the woman's right wrist performing the pooja and the other end to the kalasha. The ritual then continues with the chanting of mantras. When the prayer is finished, a special meal prepared with nine vegetables is offered to the goddess. After the consecration of the meal, it is distributed to the family members as Prasad.
Varalakshmi Vratam is important for married women and those who are not blessed with children. Practicing the ritual with extreme devotion helps in gaining boon from Maa Lakshmi for the longer life of husbands and prosperity of the family.