The monsoons are not just a thirst-quenching relief from hot sweltering summers. The onset of monsoons rushes with it the spring of nature, spreading blossoms of hope and blessings all around. The auspicious month of Aashada is symbolic because it holds the calendar date of the Varamahalakshmi festival - the festival heralding gaiety and prosperity till the conclusion of the next year.
This benevolent festival is celebrated on the last Friday of the Hindu month of Aashada, the month that sets in soon after summer - the months of July-August as per the English calendar year.
The very onset of this sacred festival is a fervour of bright flowers, colours and bright coloured rangoli everywhere. The market holds abundant varieties of decorative items - ranging from threshold decorations to small and intricate jewellery for the decoration of the Goddess of Wealth - Sri Mahalakshmi.
Brisk commercial business and activities are in great galore, while every household and business gear themselves up for this joyous welcoming of Goddess of wealth - Sri Mahalakshmi.
The young and the old alike fondly await this festival of colour and prosperity. The women consider this day to be very auspicious to welcome the Goddess to their house and pray for the well-being and long life of their beloved and their progeny.
In India, the southern states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh participate in this festival and welcome the Goddess and seek her benevolence.
The Goddess Of Wealth - Sri Mahalakshmi And The Legend Associated With Her Birth
Lord Vishnu's beloved and consort is Goddess Maha Lakshmi and the revered Mother Earth. Her sacred seat is the Lotus Flower and Her very posture on the Lotus seat is the Padma asana or the Lotus pose.
The birth of the Goddess is traced to the Padmapurana. Defeated by the demons, the Gods approached Lord Narayana and prayed to be redeemed from the torture of the demons. Lord Narayana advised the Gods to churn the Mandara Mountain in the ocean - Ksheera Sagara.
He also advised that the mountain be churned with the help of the demons and bound the Mandara with Sheshnag, the sacred snake bed of the Lord, as the rope. The Mandara was placed on the back of the Koorma - Tortoise.
The Gods held the tail end, while the demons held the head of the large snake. The tortoise was none the less - the Lord Himself. As the mountain started to churn, the Ksheera Sagara brought out Kamadhenu or Holy Cow, Varuni (intoxicating drink), Airavat, Parijat, Chandra and Goddess Mahalakshmi.
The Goddess resplendent in Her captivating beauty emerged seated in the Padma asana style on the Lotus flower. As the Gods chanted the Sri Sukta, the Goddess entered the heart of Her Beloved - Lord Narayana or Vishnu. The demons were defeated in the battle and the Gods retrieved all that was lost.
Varamahalakshmi - The Eternal Truth
Vara means "good wishes" and Maha Lakshmi is the personification of the Ashta Lakshmi. Hence, celebrating the Varamahalakshmi festival symbolizes the entry and longevity of the eight forms of abundance of life. The festival is celebrated by all to welcome the Goddess of abundance and good wishes.
The Ashta Lakshmi Forms
The Goddess in Her eight bountiful forms or the Astha Lakshmi are:
- Adi Lakshmi - The Primal
- Dhanya Lakshmi - The Goddess of Grains
- Dhairya Lakshmi - The Goddess of Courage
- Gaja Lakshmi - The Goddess of Power and Authority
- Santana Lakshmi - The Goddess who blesses couples with progeny
- Vijaya Lakshmi - The Goddess of Victory
- Vidya Lakshmi - The Goddess of Knowledge
- Dhana Lakshmi - The Goddess of Monetary Wealth
Legends Of The Festival
Lord Shiva and His consort Parvati were playing a game of dice and had a small dispute as to who was the winner. An a honest Brahmin, Chitranemi was asked to give his judgement, when he pronounced Lord Shiva to be the victor.
Much annoyed by this judgement, Parvathi cursed Chitranemi that he may suffer with leprosy. Lord Shiva pleaded her to redeem the Brahmin, and then Parvathi conceded and observed that his deliverance would be on the sacred day of the Varamahalakhmi puja.
The women observed fast and invited Mahalakshmi to their homes on this sacred day of the last Friday of the month of Aashada, and Chitranemi got his deliverance.
Another belief is that in the Maratha Kingdom, a lady by name Charumathi led a very pious and righteous life. She was duty-bound and took a good care of her parents-in-law while according them due respect in her actions and speech.
She looked after her husband and children with love, care and affection. Above all these worldly duties, she rendered her heart and soul in true worship of Goddess Maha Lakshmi. One night the Goddess appeared in her dream and asked her to perform the Varamahalakshmi puja. Charumathi shared this dream with her husband, in-laws and other ladies in the village and all of them performed this puja and attained the blessings of Goddess Lakshmi.
Continuing with this legend, let us welcome Goddess Maha Lakshmi on this auspicious day into our homes and pray that Ashta Lakshmi remains with us at all times.