Aug 28, 2015

Varalaxmi Vratam

My loving Mother-in-law and me on the occasion of Varalaxmi Puja

Being married inter-caste has its own excitement associated to it. Apart for the initial turmoil of adjustments, it exposes one to a sea of traditions that are beyond the regular. This is true to my own situation. I come from a 'Probashi-Bangali' home and married a Vaidiki Vellenadu Telegu Brahmin. Sounds so chatoic...

Well, not really. As a couple we have embraced our traditions with complete open arms and are happy that our son is being exposed to a series of traditions that will hopefully keep him anchored to his roots...

Here are some glimpses from my 'in-laws' home celebrating the auspicious occasion of Varalaxmi- a festival to propitiate the goddess Lakshmi, the consort of Vishnu, one of the Hindu Trinity.

Varalaxmi- The one who grants boons!

Varalaxmi Vratam is the celebration of Goddess Laxmi in her 'Ashtalaxmi' avataar. It is believed that praying to her on the occasion of Varalaxmi is equal to praying to all 8 forms of her that are worshiped as Siri (Wealth), Bhu (Earth), Sarasvathi (learning), Prithi (Love), Keerthi (Fame), Shanthi (Peace), Santhushti(Pleasure) and Pushti(Strength). This is the 'Diwali' equivalent of the Southern States of India.

Laxmi has 8 forms in which she is worshiped. 

It is a regional festival performed by married women from states of Andhra, Telengana, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu & Maharashtra. The puja is performed on all Friday's in the fortnight known as Sukla paksha, preceding the full moon day of the month of Sravan. The most preferred of the Friday is the one that is closest to the Poornima (full moon), and it is the one that my family celebrates.

Handcrafted idol of Goddess Laxmi, she is known as 'Padmasini- One who sits on a Lotus & one who holds the lotus'.

Day of the celebration:

Decoration of the Goddess and her mandapam is kept ready a day prior to the festival. On the morning of the Puja a collective time is spent in getting the Neivedyam and floral decorations ready. True to its nature, while the puja is performed by the women the family chips in only to get treated to lip smacking neivedyam which typically includes a variety of South Indian delicacies.

The face of the Laxmi is placed on a coconut adorned with Silk in the form of a saree. Once she is placed on her throne she is decorated with Gold ornaments and flowers. It is quiet a creative job and its amazing to see the devotee pour her heart into decorating her Laxmi. 

Once the rituals are completed the family gets ready for guests, typically married women who come home for 'Haldi-Kunku'. The lady of the house welcomes the other married women with the turmeric & vermilion powder followed by handing her guest fruits, a sari, neivedyam & a sweet smelling jasmine flower garland for her hair. The ritual is very warm and inviting especially since there is tremendous camaraderie among the community who celebrates this together. It is one time when all the women chit chat and catch up, a welcome break from the mundane.

My Mother-in-laws Varalaxmi in her full glory.

Evening Deepam

The 'Mushunuri' family after a happy Varalaxmi celebration- August 2015

I am journeying through a lot of these beautiful moments as the Daughter-in-law of the house and each passing year is drawing more intrigue & participation from me in this beautiful annual celebration.

As I continue to learn under the able guidence of my Mother-in-law, a capture from my Husband that defines my being!

Until the next one, signing off!


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