Varalakshmi Vratham is the festival ascribed to Sri Mahalakshmi. It occurs on the Friday just prior to the Shravan Purnima day. For the Year 2023, it occurs on Friday, 25th August 2023. The festival is also celebrated as Sravan Sukravar by mostly Telugu / Kannada speaking people. Some Tamil families also observe this Vrat.
The term ‘’Vara’’ means boons. The Varalakshmi Vrat is being observed as the festival to seek boons from Sri Lakshmi. Married women observe this Vrat for seeking long-life, well-being and health for their husbands and welfare for their families.
As per the legend, the significance of this Vrat is said to be narrated by Bhagwan Shiva to Sri Parvathi Devi. Bhagwan Shiva had explained the importance when Sri Parvathi Devi asked Him about the Vrat to be followed by married women for the family welfare.
Once there was a golden town which was full of all types of wealth. There, a woman named Charumathi was living. Though her family had all the wealth, she kept thinking that she should observe some Vrat / festival to seek the welfare for the family.
One day, Charumathi had a dream in her sleep. Sri Mahalakshmi had appeared in her dream in all splendor. When Charumathi told Her about her wish to follow a Vrat, Sri Lakshmi had advised her to observe the Vrat on the Friday occurring just prior to Shravan Purnima. In the dream itself, Sri Mahalakshmi had mentioned the rituals. Charumathi did manasika Puja to Sri Lakshmi in the dream itself.
Soon on waking up, Charumathi had informed her mother-in-law and father-in-law about her dream. They were elated that their daughter-in-law was blessed by Sri Lakshmi Herself.
They had informed all their relatives. On the appointed day, they had collected all the requisite materials for the Puja. Charumathi had done the Puja as prescribed.
From then onwards, Varalakshmi Vrat is being observed.
As per belief, Sri Mahalakshmi is said to have attained puberty on this day. Hence, the upachara, archana and neivedyam are done as could be ascribed to a girl child.
There are varied rituals followed for the observation of the Vrat.
There are several ways in which the Puja mandap is set. In some places, the picture of Sri Mahalakshmi is drawn on the wall at the Puja place. In some other places, the framed pictures are used.
A wooden plank is taken and cleaned. Auspicious rangolis are drawn on the plank with rice flour. A silver / copper / brass / bronze plate is filled with rice. At times, even a plantain leaf is used. The plate / leaf is kept on the Rangoli.
On the rice, the Kalash made of either silver or bronze or brass or copper is kept. The pot is filled with rice, turmeric, silver or plain coin and a small gold ornament. Some have the practice of putting small little black bangles. There is also a practice of keeping kalash without ingredients as well.
Some follow the practice of drawing the picture of Sri Mahalakshmi on the kalash. On the kalash, a sprig of mango leaves and the turmeric smeared coconut are kept. The silver image of Sri Mahalakshmi’s face is kept on the kalash as an insertion between the coconut and the kalash. Some people make the eyes, nose and ears of Sri Lakshmi on the coconut itself with the help of rice flour and turmeric.
A new blouse cloth (in any color other than black) is kept on the Kalash. The entire Kalash is placed within a desk or stool to make the whole set as a mandap. The legs of the stool / desk are tied with plantain shoots. The mango leaves are decorated around the desk / stool.
Some people simply keep the kalash on the plank itself.
The ritual of setting the mandap is done at the evening of Thursday itself at some places. If it is so, then a neivedyam of rice Pongal made of rice and thur dal is offered as neivedyam.
Women wake up very early in the morning. After bathing and other rituals, they collect the flowers, turmeric rice, Kumkum, Chandan, turmeric etc., for the Puja. The entrance of the house is decked up with auspicious rangolis drawn with red borders.
They make yagnopavitham with cotton and turmeric. Vasthram is also made with cotton and turmeric.
Lamps and incense sticks are made ready. Water is kept in Pancha-patra. Another bowl is kept ready for argyam.
The fruits, pan leaves, coins, banana, betal nuts and coconuts are kept ready. According to the number of women, turmeric smeared cotton threads are made ready. The count is the sum of number of women / girls plus one. Each of the threads is done with eight knots. The ninth knot is done with a flower.
As Varalakshmi Vrat falls on Friday, the Puja should start either before 10.30 A.M or after 12.00 noon (before or after Rahukaalam). The first step should be to lit the lamps and incense sticks.
The method of Puja is as per Sri Suktham. The Puja starts with invocation to Bhagwan Sri Ganesh. A small mound of turmeric is placed atop a betal leaf and it is worshipped as Sri Ganesh as per the ritual.
After completing Ganesh Puja, Sri Varalakshmi Devi is worshipped. After Dhyan, Puja is done to Sri Lakshmi by submitting flowers, Chandan, water, Kumkum and turmeric as upachara. This is the welcome Puja.
Then flowers are offered ascribing the same to the parts of Her person (attributes). This is called as Anga Puja.
After Anga Puja, the one hundred and eight names of Sri Mahalakshmi are chanted and the Ashtothara Sathanama Puja is done. After this, Neivedyam of Vada, Payasam, Rice dumplings, broken coconut etc., is made.
Then the knotted turmeric threads are kept on a plate and Puja is done to the same. This is called as Thora grandhi Puja. For doing the Puja, the names of Sri Lakshmi are chanted. After this thora Puja, the eldest lady in the family ties the thread on the right wrist of the younger women in the house. For the eldest lady, her husband ties the thread. While tying the thread, the half coconut, betal leaves and nuts and some flowers are to be kept in the right palm on the person to whom the thread is tied up.
After the thread tying rituals, some turmeric rice is kept in the right palm and the Vrat Katha is recited and listened to. Then, karpura aarti is taken to Sri Varalakshmi.
The Slokams / Stotrams pertaining to Sri Mahalskhmi are recited. The Neivedyam is distributed to all the family members.
In the evening, girls and women in the neighborhood are invited and are given gifts. Karpura Aarthi is taken on the plate filled with turmeric and lime mixed water. The mixed water is then poured on the rangoli drawn in front of the house. This ritual is said to ward off evil.
The shorter version of Puja is to be done before removing the Kalash. In some places, the Puja is done on the same day while in other places, it is done on the next day.
Hence, Sri Varalakshmi Vrat is the festival inviting and invoking Sri Mahalakshmi to bless us prosperity, health and welfare. This is also considered as thanks giving to Sri Lakshmi for Her blessings.