Varalashmi Pooja, more popularly known as the Varalakshmi Vratham, is a festival celebrated to worship Vara Lakshmi, the boon-giving form of Lakshmi, the Supreme Goddess of Wealth.
This festival is celebrated mainly in the Southern parts of the country and observed with faith by married women. It is believed that by propitiating the Goddess on that auspicious occasion, devotees can receive the beneficial blessings of Ashtalakshmi, all the 8 potent forms of the Wealth Goddess.
This festival falls on the second Friday of Shukla Paksha, the Moon’s waxing phase, or on the Friday before the Full Moon day in Shravana month (July-August). Varalakshmi Vratham 2021 occurs on 20th August this year.
Varalakshmi Vratham Pooja Items
It is to the image, more specifically, to the face of the Goddess, that Varalakshmi Vratham Pooja is performed on the occasion. Varalakshmi’s face studded with ornaments is carved on a sheet of silver or other metals in all its splendor and is traditionally used in the families, year after year and generation after generation.
This deity is installed on top of a Kalash, a sacred pot, also made of silver or bronze, and these two remain the principal objects of worship on the day.
These apart, the items required for performing the Pooja can be broadly taken as under:
Saradu, the sacred threads soaked in turmeric paste. These are also placed near the deity, worshiped, and are later worn by the women in their right wrists. These sanctified threads are believed to provide them with the Goddess’ blessings of protection
Colorful pieces of cloth, generally in silk, for dressing up the deity. People also make little Saris for the Goddess, with cloths.
Jewelry, usually made of gold, and other accessories like false hair for adorning the Goddess and decorating her face. Some people also keep a mirror behind the deity to show the decorations done on her rear side
Flower garlands and loose flowers, both for decorating the deity and also for performing the Pooja to her
A raised wooden plank for placing the sacred pot and the deity for worship
Other materials for use in the Pooja like coconuts, fruits including banana, betel leaves, and nuts, turmeric sticks, paste and powder, sandal paste, saffron or Kumkum, Akshata, rice grains mixed in turmeric, raw rice, rice flour for drawing Rangoli, colorful Rangoli powders, traditional oil lamps, incense sticks, camphor, and trays for keeping Pooja materials and for other use
Special preparations and food items made on the occasion for offering to the deity in the Pooja
Varalakshmi Vratham Pooja Process
Vratham denotes austerity and generally refers to fasting. Hence, fasting remains a principal part of the observance of the Vratham in honor of Goddess Varalakshmi by the women undertaking the worship. They thus refrain from food on that day till the completion of the Pooja and break the fast only by consuming the Prasad.
Women get up very early in the morning, clean and sweep the house, take bath, prepare food items, and make preparations for the Pooja. They draw Rangolis at the entrance, other places in the house, and at the Pooja spot, put the wooden plank there, spread rice grains on a banana leaf placed over it, and install the scared pot on it filled with water or rice and spices, facing the East. A coconut with its tail up is then placed over the mouth of the pot covered with mango leaves, and the Goddess’ face is installed in front of the coconut for worship. The deity and pot are decorated with accessories, turmeric paste, kumkum, sandal paste, dress materials, ornaments, flower garlands, etc. The mirror is then placed behind the deity. The yellow Saradu threads are also kept near the deity for worship.
Oil lamps and incense sticks are then lighted and kept in front.
Varalakshmi Pooja begins with Ganesha worship, with the chanting of slokas in praise of Ganapathi and seeking his grace for the successful completion of the Pooja.
The Goddess is then invited to the house by performing the Varalakshmi Avahan Pooja and the reciting of the hymns meant for her welcome. Anga Pooja follows with the chanting of the hymns in praise of the Goddess and praying to her body parts, from head to foot.
Varalakshmi’s 108 or 1000 names are then taken with devotion in the form of her Ashtothra or Sahasranama, along with the offering of flowers and Akshata. The devotees can then offer flowers to the deity and pray to her sincerely, seeking her grace for the all-round wellbeing of the devotees and their families.
Arti worship is performed to mark the conclusion of the Pooja, with the women singing the Arti songs and waving of lighted camphor in front. Special food items and fruits are then offered to the deity.
Some items denoting auspiciousness like the coconut, betel leaves and nuts, turmeric, kumkum, flowers, and fruits are distributed as Thamboolam to the assembled ladies, along with the food offerings, as Prasad. The women also wear the Saradu, the sacred thread, as a form of divine protection.