Friday, August 4, 2017

Varalakshmi Vratham: A Sacred Day for Women

The Kojagiri or Sharad Purnima is a harvest festival celebrated on the day of the full moon of the lunar month of Ashwin in September-October. It marks the end of the monsoon and the passage from summer to winter. In Bengal Kojagori Lokkhi Puja is done in the Ashwin Sharad Purnima, the first full moon after the autumnal durga puja.

It is more a feast for joy over the beginning of harvest time and less of a harvest feast, so that the grain can mature for some time until they could be harvested. Man wanted to assure himself with the ritual that the harvest was not endangered by a late hailstorm.

Extensive preparations are made to please Lakshmi and Prasad is distributed to devotees at the end of worship with the special preparation of assorted Khichuri, Narkel Naru, made with coconut and fresh fruits. Alpana is painted in footprints with Alta in the homes. Women generally fast during the day.

During the night the devotees stay awake and sing songs in the moonlight. They observe a fast consuming only liquids such as water, coconut milk, and milk. In some areas, this fast is known as Kaumudi Purnima. The custom during Sharad Purnima is to prepare a kheer, a preparation of hot milk thickened and flavored with spices, saffron, and cardamom that must be kept under the moon to absorb the divine nectar of the Harvest moon, blessed by protective and benevolent lunar rays.

Lakshmi is represented wearing a red sari seated on a lotus, dressed in sparkling clothes and jewels and has a benevolent attitude and a maternal aspect. She is surrounded by two white elephants. Her name derives from the word luck. She is venerated by Ganesha. She was also considered the propitiator of motherhood. This deity was also called Annonaria.

Laxmi is worshiped by offering flowers, fruits, and sweets along with Puspanjali. Kojagori or Ko jagra-ti, means, the one who is awake. Devotees believe Lakshmi comes at night with wealth and knocks the door of the house and the one remaining awake is entitled to the treasures. Lakshmi is the presiding deity of fortune and wealth with the owl being her Bahan. Almost every Hindu household worship Lakshmi in the evening. Lakshmi is the consort of Vishnu and the mother of Kamadeva.

Lakshmi is often referred to as the attribute of Shree. She was added to the Rig Veda between 1000 and 500 BC. She is referred to at the time of the war between the Devas and Asuras during the Samudra Manthan.

Her Roman equivalent is the Fortuna. Fortuna was a late creation that arose as a courtesan and humble reaction to the moralizing character of Venus. Fortuna is an archaic divinity and that appears frequently linked to the rites of passage, but whose cult disappear. Later when the patronage of the party passed to Venus, only the incense offering remained for Fortuna eclipsed by the prestige and popularity of Venus.

Lakshmi does not find a clear characterization even after examining the ancient sources. She was later identified with the Anatolian Cybele, the Gallic Rosmerta, as well as with the Greek Demeter, Rea and Tyche, and Laima, a Baltic goddess.

Such multiplicity of figures can be largely attributed to the fact that the archaic Indie cult, rather than being polytheistic thought too many of the divine essences of the invoked beings. The devotees did not know much more than the name, functions, and the numen of these beings that is their power that manifested itself in highly specialized ways.

Since the cultivation of land and harvesting of the crops occupied a central role in the life of that time, it follows the interest, the profusion of rituals, ways of prayer and even the number of cited figures. Lakshmi is incorrectly identified with wealth.

In ancient times Lughnasadh, a full moon festival was the first of three harvest festivals when the peasants lived from harvest to harvest. Lughnasadh was always looked for as the end of the involuntary fasting. It was in its essence a celebration of the joy of life, characterized by the knowledge that darker times (winter) are in suit.

The feast day was dependent on the full moon, which was closest to the actual harvesting start since there were regional differences. It was next to the other festivals of Mabon and Samhain and was also the first of the three pagan harvest festivals. The beginning of the harvest marks the end of the maturing season. From now on, the period of the harvest begins and the days become much shorter.

Lughnasadh was celebrated by Germans in honor of Thor. The corresponding Skálskarparmál describes how the fire god Loki cut off the hair of Thor's wife Sif. The first grain harvest was also consumed by the Saxons and Germans during a ritual meal on the occasion of the bread festival.

Among the Germans, Hausblot (harvesting sacrifice) was primarily a harvest festival or a sacrifice for good harvest with the blessings of Vanengotter. Thor was particularly venerated as the patron of the peasants, and Freya was thanked for the fertility of the earth. At this time, the people met and arranged weddings.

Varalakshmi Puja or Varalakshmi Vratham is an important ritual observed by married women in South India in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra for the prosperity and well-being of their families. People wake up early in the morning and take a bath. Traditionally speaking the time to wake up for the puja is the Brahma Muhurtham.

Next, comes the preparation of the kalasham or Kalas. A bronze pot is selected and is thoroughly cleaned and a symbol of the swastika is drawn and coated with sandalwood paste. The Kalasham is filled with raw rice or water, coins, a lime, together with five different types of leaves and betel nut. The elements used to fill the Kalasham vary from region to region and include turmeric, comb, mirror, small black bracelets and black pearls.

The Kalasham is sometimes covered with a tissue and mango leaves are placed in the mouth. Finally, a coconut smeared with turmeric is used to close the mouth of the Kalasham. An image of Lakshmi is drawn using turmeric powder. Now, the Kalasham symbolically represents Lakshmi. In some areas, women place a mirror behind the Kalasham. Today there are also specially designed Varalakshmi pots available in the market.

Kalasham is usually placed on a bed of rice. First Ganesha is revered. Then begins the Varalakshmi Puja. The puja consists of singing slokas dedicated to the goddess Lakshmi as Lakshmi Sahasranamam. Arati is performed on the Kalasham. Different types of candy are offered. Some people offer Pongal. In some areas, women tie yellow yarn on their hands.

The woman who observes the Varalakshmi Puja abstains from eating certain types of food and this varies from area to region. Thamboolam is offered to women in the locality and in the evening an Arati is offered. The next day after taking a bath, the Kalasham is disassembled and the water in the Kalasham is sprinkled in the house.


dishantparikh said...

amazing photographs...!!!

Angad Achappa said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog.. :) These are some lovely images here... Nice blog!!

Angad Achappa

EG Wow said...

I would try to stay awake all night to make sure I didn't miss Goddess Lakshmi. :)

ladyfi said...

Beautiful photos to go with this lovely tradition.

Desiree said...

You have the most wonderful rituals and traditions steeped in your ages old culture that make my own look like an infant!

Leovi said...

A picture with fine lines and exquisite shades of color, a delight.

Eden said...

Wonderfully captured photo. Thank you for sharing.

Krishna said...

nice ritual...

beautiful photos...

Kala said...

Beautiful series of images. Thanks for sharing.

kalaiselvisblog said...

nice post buddy... everytime iam so excited to visit ur blog as i can aware of many such wonderful information... thanks 4 sharing...

Red Nomad OZ said...

Everyday actions are enhanced by ritual - it turn making them memorable. Particularly like the lights to drive away the evil spirits!

T. Becque said...

Nice. And sounds great, I'd love to see it myself.

Erika said...

Very interesting custom and nice shot.
Bye-bye from Italy.

Charu said...

Thanks for the nice comment on my blog! And you really have a beautiful blog here with lovely photographs :)
Take care...

Magia da Inês said...

♥ •˚。
°°Olá, amigo! 。♥。
● ♥• Passei para uma visitinha!!!
Essa imagem é muito bonita.
˚。˚ Boa semana!
♥ •˚。Beijinhos.

Kungsfiskaren said...

Lovely images.
greetings from Sweden

Nimi SunilKumar said...

mind blowing clicks...and what a space:)

kankana said...

One of those time of the year when I miss India the most!

Pria said...

beautiful shot!

Hope said...

what a beautiful blessing! I will remember this every full moon thank you!

and thank you for your visit and comment