Sri Vara Maha Lakshmi literally means, boon granting a form of the Goddess of Wealth & Prosperity. Sri Vara Mahalakshmi Vrata or Pooja is one of the prominent and important Hindu festivals. It’s primarily celebrated in the South States of India, like Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu. It is celebrated on Friday preceding Full Moon day in the month of ‘Sravana’ (around July-August in Gregorian Calendar) and is therefore popularly as ‘Sravana Sukravara Maha Lakshmi Pooja’.
It is a festival to propitiate the Goddess Vara Lakshmi, the consort of Vishnu, as this is one of her special forms where in, She is in the form who grants desired boons (‘Varam’ or ‘Vara’ means boon).
It is said that Goddess Vara Lakshmi will bestow the house of anyone devotee who thinks of Her and worships Her on this auspicious day and blesses them. There are many festivals in the Hindu calendar year dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi. But, Varalakshmi Vratham is considered is exclusive, special and very auspicious because it is marked by strict observance of certain practices and austerities. It is therefore known as ‘Vratham’.
The name Vishnu really means pervading everywhere, and Lakshmi, his consort, is symbolical of the forces found everywhere. Eight forces or energies are recognized and they are known as Sri (Wealth), Bhu (Earth), Saraswati (Learning), Preeti (Love), Keerti (Fame), Shanti (Peace), Tushti (Pleasure) and Pushti (Strength). Each one of these forces is called a Lakshmi and all the eight forces are called the Ashta Lakshmis or the eight essential forms of Maha Lakshmi to lead a complete successful and prosperous life as per by Vydic Sacred texts. As health, wealth and prosperity depend upon the rhythmic play of these forces, the worship of Lakshmi is said to obtain these three. Hence this festival is celebrated by invoking the blessings of Sri Vara Maha Lakshmi for the welfare of their marital bliss (Sowbhagyam), children (Santana) and to have all the material as well as spiritual desired boons will be fulfilled (Sakala Ishta Kamya Phala Siddhi).
Story in relation with this Vrata or Pooja:
In the kingdom of Magadha of yore, there lived a Brahmin woman called Charumathi in a town named Kundinpura. The prosperous town was the home of Charumathi and her husband. She devotedly served her husband and her parents-in-law. Impressed by her sincerity and piety, Goddess Mahalakshmi appeared in her dream, blessed her and asked her to worship Vara Lakshmi (literally means, boon granting form of the Goddess of Wealth & Prosperity) and seek to fulfill her wishes. Varalakshmi is yet another form of Lord Vishnu’s consort, Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. Thus was prescribed the Friday of Sravana month, proceeding the full moon day for the worship.
When Lady 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:
“Padmaasane Padmakare sarva lokaika poojithe
Narayana priyadevi supreethaa bhava sarvada”
Meaning: One who is sitting in the lotus, holding lotuses, one who is prayed by the entire universe, One Who is very dear to Lord Narayana, Please always be benevolent to me.
The well dressed women make offerings of a verity delicious cooking of sweet dishes with utmost devotion. As they went round the Deity in prayer, dazzling jewelry is said to have appeared as ornaments on the bodies of these worshippers and their houses filled with riches. They rewarded the priest who assisted them in performing the Pooja and they all partook in the feast. The women expressed their gratitude to Charumathi who shared her dream and helped them become prosperous. This Pooja came to be practiced year after year by women. Done with devotion, it is said that boons would be granted and thus many wishes would be realized.
Nivedana (Naivedya or Offerings)
The Pooja is followed with the offerings. Devotees offer all the freshly cooked food, primarily ‘Kshirannam’ (Rice cooked with milk & sugar, as this is Goddess Lakshmi’s favorite dish), many other sweets, fruits, new dresses, ornaments are offered to Goddess first and are accepted by all as her Prasad later.
Offerings are generally followed by singing various songs in the praise of Goddess Varalakshmi, Lakshmi Stotras and Bhajans. Various devotees sing, even some times tell many stories from Vedas and Puranas in reminiscence of Her glory once again. This is done based on one’s deep devotion, convenience, availability, strength (Yetha shakti) as is possible. Pooja concludes with Mangal Aarti for the Goddess Varalakshmi Devi.