By Priyanka Mahajan
Varalakshmi Vratam 2011 date is 12 August. It is one of the most auspicious pooja performed by women in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka and some parts of Tamil Nadu. This Hindu festival falls during the Shravan month, on the Friday of the bright fortnight or the Shukla Paksha, immediately prior to the full moon day (months of July and August).
Significance of Varalaksmi Vratam
Eight forces or energies are acknowledged and they are known as Sri (Wealth), Bhu (Earth), Sarasvati (learning), Priti (love), Kirti (Fame), Shanti (Peace), Tushti (Pleasure) and Pushti (Strength). Each one of these forces is called Lakshmi and all the eight forces together are known as Ashta Lakshmis or the eight Lakshmis. Vishnu is also entitled as Ashta Lakshmi Padhi which is equivalent to saying that he is the shelter for the eight-Lakshmis or forces. While Vishnu representing the preservative aspect of the universe, radiates these forces through him. These forces are embodied and worshipped as Lakshmis, since abstract force is beyond the conception of the ordinary people.
As health, wealth and prosperity depend upon the rhythmic play of the fore mentioned forces, the worship of Lakshmi is said to be to obtain these three. It is said that only a woman can sympathise with women. Lakshmi is a woman. So she will more readily sympathise with women. Hence this festival is observed largely by women, invoking the blessings of Lakshmi on them and their family.
Legend behind Varalaksmi Vratam
The history of the origin Of the Varalakshmi Vrata is rather interesting. Lakshmi is said to have visited a religious woman by name Sarmadi, living in the city of Kuntinapura in Magadha (Bihar), in one of her dreams the goddess herself expressed her satisfaction at her love and devotion towards her children. When she woke up, she worshipped Lakshmi to ensure her blessings. When the other fellows heard of her dream and her worship of Lakshmi, they too began to worship the goddess, and the custom is then said to have spread everywhere throughout the land in course of time. Now it is celebrated as festival.
Other stories linked with Varalaksmi Vratam
In the kingdom of Magadha, there lived a brahmin woman called Chaturmati in a town named Kundina. The prosperous town was the home of Chaturmati and her husband. She devotedly served her husband and her parents-in-law. Impressed by her devoutness, Goddess Mahalakshmi appeared in her dream and asked her to worship Varalakshmi and seek to fulfill her wishes. Varalakshmi is yet another form of Lord Vishnu's wife, Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. Thus was prescribed the Friday of Sravana month prior to the full moon day for the worship.
When Charumathi explained her dream to her family, she found them encouraging her to perform the pooja. Many other women of the town also joined her in performing the pooja in a traditional way and offered many sweet dishes to the Goddess Varalakshmi. They prayed with deep devotion:
Another story linked to this pooja, on one occasion, 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 at each games, went only, to her intense disappointment. So Parvati wanted to have an umpire and one Chitranemi, a creation of Lord Shiva, was chosen. As an underling of Lord Shiva, he sided with him most unjustly. This provoked Parvati's anger and she cursed Chitranemi that he should become a leper for discharging his duty in most unfair manner.
When Chitranemi begged Parvati's forgiveness and Lord Shiva added his entreaties to it, she is said to have relented and modified the curse by adding that he would be cured of his leprosy by observing the Vara Lakshmi Vrata. By doing this Chitranemi was relieved of the loathsome disease.
This pooja can be done with no restriction to caste or creed. The believer's of this festival celebrate it with great fervour and joy.