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How to perform Varalakshmi Vratam?


Varalakshmi vratam / pooja is one of the most important poojas performed by women of all communities in the Southern states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu and in Maharashtra. 

The pooja is performed on the 2nd Friday before full moon day in the Hindu month of Sravanam which mostly falls in month of August. If you cannot perform the vratam on the 2nd Friday due to unforeseen circumstances, you can perform it on the 3rd or 4th Friday of the month but not on the first Friday. Married women perform the pooja mainly for a blissful and prosperous married life.

Varalakshmi Devi is one of the special forms of  Goddess Lakshmi - the Hindu goddess of wealth and prosperity. The word 'varam' (vara) means boon in Sanskrit and Telugu languages. The goddess is believed to bestow Her devotees with boons and fulfill their wishes, she is worshiped by the name Varalakshmi. 

According to Skanda Purana, Goddess Parvati wanted to perform a pooja / vratam which would be highly beneficial for women to lead a happy, prosperous and blissful marital life. Lord Shiva, then narrated Her the importance of Varalakshmi vratam. In the Varalakshmi Katha (story), it is mentioned that a lady by name Charumathi gets the vision of Ammavaru in her dream and performs the pooja as directed by Ammavaru. It is believed that worshiping Varalakshmi on this special day is equivalent to worshiping Ashta Lakshmi.
  

Preparations for Varalakshmi Vratam

Telugu women of Andhra Pradesh make heavy purchase of gold jewelry, silver articles and pattu saris. Start your preparations well in advance and make all the necessary arrangements the previous day. Do not keep any pending work till the last minute as you might find it difficult to manage things.

Decorating Varalakshmi Ammavaru is one of the most important part of the pooja. In some families, only the face of Varalakshmi Ammavaaru is decorated on the coconut and is placed on the silver / copper pot i.e Kalasam. While in other families, the full idol of Ammavaaru decked with saree and bedecked with jewels is worshiped. This is a time consuming process, so you need to start your preparations well ahead. Complete all the arrangements by Thursday itself for performing a tension-free vratam. Keep all the purchased items like new gold / silver articles, clothes, sari and jewelry for Ammavaru in a specific shelf so that you can easily locate these at the time of pooja.

Tie mango leaves or floral toranam to the main entrance door and pooja mandapam on Thursday evening.

Clean / mop your house and decorate the floor with muggulu i.e floral designs on the floor. You can beautify the muggulu by spreading flower petals on it or coloring it.

North-East corner of the house is the appropriate place to install mandapam and Varalakshmi Ammavaru. Draw astadala padmam (eight-petaled lotus) muggu / rangoli, color it and spread floral petals on it.

Decorate the mandapam and the back wall as per your taste and like. Decoration part is purely your personal thing and not mandatory for the pooja. Place a medium sized silver / brass plate on the mandapam and spread little rice on the plate. Draw small muggu with turmeric powder / vermilion on the spread rice.

Once you are done with the decoration part, make sure that you place Ammavaru facing either West or South direction so that you face East or North while performing pooja.

However in some regions, the face of the God / Goddess should face East / North while you sit facing West / South. You can sit as per your tradition and there is no hard and fast rule for the same.

Find here Telugu Version of Varalakshmi Vrata Kalpam.

How to decorate Varalakshmi Ammavaru

Take a silver kalasam with Ashta Lakshmi impression on it or a brass kalasam. Smear turmeric paste on four sides of the kalasam, apply chandan and kumkum on it. Place the kalasam on the plate full of rice. Fill the kalasam nearly to three-fourths with rice. In some families, the kalasam is half filled with water. So you can do as per your family custom.

Keep mango leaves cluster / dalam on the kalasam. Place the decorated coconut on the kalasam. Scrapping and decorating the coconut can be done the previous night. Do not fully remove the coir but leave a tail of it. Apply 1 or 2 coats of turmeric paste on the entire coconut and then smear sandalwood paste on one side of the coconut to make the face of Ammavaru. Allow it to dry for a while and then stick eyes, nose and lips of Ammavaru.

If you have an aesthetic taste, you can draw these yourself or you can cut the pictures of eyes, nose and lips and stick these on the sandalwood coat. If you wish, you can color these parts. Draw Kalyanam Bottu on the forehead region and place the Ammavaru made of coconut on the kalasam. Take a new blouse piece preferably deep yellow / red / green color one, fold it into a cone or triangular shape and place this as head gear on Ammavaaru and then place a flower on it. Now you can deck-up Ammavaru as per your choice with ornaments.

For making a bigger idol of Ammavaaru, you need to place the kalasam on a steel / brass / hard plastic cylinder and roll a cello tape round these to ensure tightness. Then drape saree to Ammavaaru and decorate Her as per your choice.

Once you are done with the deck-up part of Varalakshmi Ammavaaru, you can make other pooja arrangements and keep the following things handy:
  • turmeric powder / pasupu
  • kumkum powder (vermilion)
  • chandan powder (sandalwood powder)
  • yellow rice grains or akshantalu
  • small pasupu Ganapati on a betel leaf (tamalapaaku)
  • different varieties of flowers - loose as well as garland for decorating ammavaru
  • camphor 
  • different varieties of fruits including coconut 
  • panchamrutam made of cow's ghee, cow's milk, curd made of cow's milk, sugar and honey of nearly equal measures 
  • Agarbatti
  • Betel leaves and nuts (Tamala paaku / vakkalu)
  • A plate, small tumbler of water and spoon for Sankalpam
  • 3 torams made of nine strands and nine knots at equal distances and flowers tied to the knots. After pooja is over, place one thoram near Ammavaru, tie one to your right wrist and the other one, you can tie to your mother or daughter or any other married women or even to small children at home. There is no hard and fast rule for this. You can also make torams for all female members of the family. 
Once you are done with arrangements, you can wear sari as per the custom of your family and then sit on the pooja mat for performing pooja. Separate Varalakshmi pooja vidham books are available and this is also available online. You can go through the book and perform the pooja as directed.

Preparation of naivedyam is important. Generally poornam boorelu, pulihora and garelu (vadalu) are offered to Ammavaaru along with all the prepared recipes for the day as Mahanaivedyam. At the end of the pooja, you can offer 'mangala harati' accompanied with the song ksheerabdi kanyakaku. In the evening, there is social gathering. You can wear your new sari and deck up yourself and invite your friends and relatives for perantam. Offer senagala vaayanam (sprouted grams) along with taambulam to the invited ladies. Other formalities like return gifts is purely your personal thing. 
Next day morning i.e on Saturday, as usual you can perform your daily pooja with deepa, dhoopa (agarbati), naivedyam. Offer a fruit as naivedyam and then slightly move the Ammavarau Kalasam towards East with salutations in mind and requesting Ammavaru to go back to her original place.

Remove the items like sari, jewelry etc from the Ammavaru and keep these in your shelf. Use the hardened turmeric paste for applying it to your 'mangala sutralu' and on your face. Do not use this turmeric on your feet. You can even place this turmeric in a potted Tulasi plant or dissolve it in water sources like river but not in drain water.

Date of Varalakshmi Pooja: August 4, 2017.

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