One of the important traditions or rituals that are part of the Diwali festival is Lakshmi Pooja. The Pooja is performed on the day of Diwali, which is a 5-day festival, which begins with Dhanteras and ends with Bhai Dooj.
Lakshmi is the Hindu deity of wealth, good fortune, and prosperity. She is the consort of Vishnu, who preserves the Universe as per Hinduism. She is also one of the Tridevis, along with the goddesses Saraswati and Parvati.
Goddess Lakshmi, says Hindu mythology, emerged from the Milky Ocean when the gods and demons churned it for Amrit, the divine elixir of immortality. She is said to incarnate along with Vishnu whenever he takes an avatar to restore Dharma on earth.
Many Hindus worship Lakshmi as she is the bestower of 8 kinds of wealth (that are regarded as essential for a happy and abundant life), as embodied in the concept of Ashtalakshmi.
Hence, Lakshmi Pooja is an important tradition for Hindus who do not wish to lack anything in their lives. By performing Lakshmi Pooja on the auspicious occasion of Diwali, they hope to attract abundance, good fortune, success, and prosperity into their households and businesses. Lakshmi brings them hope, auspiciousness, and positive energies.
The Story Behind Diwali
Diwali is the day on which Rama (the 7th avatar of Vishnu) is said to have returned to Ayodhya with Sita and Lakshmana after killing Ravana. The people of Ayodhya lit earthen lamps (diyas) and decorated their homes with Rangolis to welcome him.
Each of the 5 days of Diwali has its own meaning and associated rituals. The first day is Dhanteras. This day is highly auspicious day for purchasing gold, silver, and other things. Narak Chaturdashi is the second day. On this day, Krishna, along with his wife, Satyabhama, and Goddess Durga, supposedly slew the demon Naraskasura. People bathe early in the morning and light diyas to ward off evil spirits on Narak Chaturdashi.
The third or main day is Lakshmi Pooja or Diwali. People wear new clothes, light diyas, and draw beautiful Rangolis on the floor. They offer prayers to Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth and prosperity. A lot of firecrackers are also burst on this day. People meet relatives and friends and exchange greetings and sweets. The fourth day is Govardhan Pooja. The day is dedicated to Krishna. People make small mounds using cow dung that signify Mt. Govardhan. It was under this mountain that the villagers of Gokul took refuge when Indra unleashed a terrible torrential rain and thunderstorms against them. They also offer prayers to Mt. Govardhan. On the fifth and final day, people celebrate Bhai Dooj. It celebrates the bond between brothers and sisters.
Now, here is a step-by-step description of how to do Lakshmi Pooja at home.
Before starting the Pooja, clean the house well and decorate it tastefully. On the day of Lakshmi Pooja, take a bath in the morning and sprinkle some Ganga Jal throughout the house and on the people in your house as a mark of purification.
On a table/platform, spread a red cloth. Place a few grains in the center of the cloth. Then, draw a lotus in the center of the grains with some haldi/turmeric powder. Keep idols/pictures of Lakshmi and Ganesha on the grains on the pedestal.
Fill a copper or silver kalash/pot with three-fourths of water. Put some coins, betel nut, raisins, clove, dry fruits, and cardamom inside the kalash. Arrange some mango leaves on the neck of the pot in a circular fashion. Arrange a coconut on the kalash. Now you have installed the kalash. Place it on the pedestal along with the idols of the deities and adorn it with sindhoor (vermilion) and flowers.
Bathe the idols of Lakshmi and Ganesha with pure water, Panchamrit, sandal water, rose water, and pure water. Apply turmeric powder, sandal paste, and sindhoor on the idols and decorate them with flowers and garlands.
Light a lamp and some incense sticks. Begin the Pooja with Ganesh worship. Then, worship Lakshmi. Chant Mantras for both the deities and keep the offerings in front of the idols. Offerings for Lakshmi Pooja include laddoos, batasha, betel leaves and nuts, dry fruits, coconut, sweets, dishes made at home, coins, etc. Offer flowers to the idols while chanting Mantras.
Listen to the story of Goddess Lakshmi. An elderly family member or volunteer can read the story, and the others need to listen to the story attentively. When the story session ends, everyone should offer flowers at the feet of the idols. The storyteller should be given a silver coin, sweets, and some gifts.
Sing the Arati song of Lakshmi and wave the camphor light before the idols and kalash. Offer your prayers for the prosperity and welfare of your family and for the world, too. Circumambulate the altar and prostrate before the deities. Distribute the Prasad among those present. After this, you can partake of a special meal with your family and guests, starting with the sweets that form the Prasad.