VARALAKSHMI VRATAM AT PRASANTHI NILAYAM
4th August 2006
Speaking on the significance of Varalakshmi Vrata in the year 2000, Bhagavan said, “Since ancient times, the women of Bharat have upheld the dignity and honour of the family and the community at large. The worship of goddess Varalakshmi earned them Her grace and they could accomplish all this. Varalakshmi is one who grants all the boons that women pray for. She confers on women all the eight types of wealth. Noble women like Savitri, Damayanti, Chandramati and Sumati accomplished mighty tasks only due to the grace of Varalakshmi. Worship of Varalakshmi confers wealth, prosperity and bliss.”
Varalakshmi Vratam is a festival to propitiate Sri Varalakshmi (Mahalakshmi) - the consort of Lord Vishnu, who is the abode of all auspiciousness, prosperity and wealth. The Vratam is performed on the Sravana Sukla Sukra Varam, that is, the Friday immediately following the full moon day (Purnima) in the auspicious month of Sravanam (corresponding to August - September). This Vratam is undertaken by the Sumangalis (whose husbands are still living) for good progeny, good health, and wishing long life for the husbands.
On this auspicious day, Bhagawan came to Sai Kulwant Hall at 7.30 a.m. , while a Nadaswaram troupe of musicians followed Bhagawan playing sonorous notes befitting the occasion. The Hall was aesthetically decorated for the festival. A beautifully decorated idol of Varalakshmi adorned the dais of the Hall. Before the Puja commenced, Bhagawan went amidst the seated ladies in the Hall. The head priest elaborated on the significance of the occasion. He informed the gathering of ladies that to perform this Puja in the immediate Divine Presence of Bhagawan was a great boon for all of them. The Puja commenced with worship of Ganapati. Then the priests enunciated the Mantras which were repeated by the vast gathering of 1,600 ladies. All along, the Sri Suktam, which forms an important part of this Puja was chanted by the priests. The ladies tied Toram (sacred yellow thread) on each other's wrist as a mark of protection and blessings of the Divine Mother. As instructed by the priests, they sprinkled Akshata (sacred yellow rice) on each other and also exchanged the customary winnowing pan, which symbolises charity. The priest then explained the legend behind this Puja (mentioned in the next paragraph of this report). At the end, Bhagawan was offered Arati after which an announcement was made that a sumptuous lunch was arranged for the participants in the South Indian Canteen.
There are several legends associated with this festival. Goddess Parvati once asked Lord Siva to suggest her a Vratam, which would be beneficial for the womenfolk on earth who seek prosperity. Then, Lord Siva preached her about Varalakshmi Vratam. To illustrate the sanctity of this Vratam, Lord Siva narrated the story of one Charumati. Charumati was a true Pativrata (devoted to husband in all sincerity). Pleased with her true and undivided devotion to her husband, Goddess Lakshmi appeared in her dream and advised her to undertake the Varalakshmi Vratam on the auspicious day of Sravana Sukla Sukra Varam. Charumati performed this Puja with utmost devotion, the same day, in the dream itself. The next day she narrated this dream to her husband, and with his full consent, to all other womenfolk in town. On the auspicious day, she did not fail to perform Varalakshmi Vratam and reaped immense benefit. Ever since, this Vratam has been regularly performed in households.
On this evening, Bhagawan came to the Hall at 3.10 and sat on the dais listening to the Vedic chants. The devotees and students had a fulfilling Darshan of the Lord. After Bhajans and Arati, the day's proceedings ended and Bhagawan retired for the day.