Rituals of Lakshmi Puja
The ritualistic procedure for Lakshmi Puja is supposed to be very specific and must be done with complete devotion. As per Hindu traditions, it is important to cleanse and purify the space where the puja is to be held. Incense sticks, coal, dried pan cakes made of cow dung and guggal or benzoin are lighted to cleanse the space. After the sanctification of the place, the puja begins by laying down a piece of new cloth on a raised platform and distributing a handful of grains in the centre of the cloth. A kalasha made of gold, silver or copper is placed on the centre.
Three quarters of the kalasha is filled with water and betel nut, a flower, a coin, and a few rice grains are added to it. There are about 5 kinds of leaves, which are arranged and a small dish filled with rice grains is placed on the kalasha. In Lakshmi's iconography, she is either sitting or standing on a lotus and is typically seen carrying a lotus in one or both her hands. The lotus carries symbolic meanings in Hinduism and other Indian traditions, it symbolises knowledge, self-realisation and liberation. Hence, the flower is also included in the worship of the Goddess, a lotus is etched over the rice grains with turmeric powder and the idol of Goddess Lakshmi is placed over the top of the kalasha, and coins are placed around it.
Depending on the region of India, along with Goddess Lakshmi additional deities like Lord Ganesha, Goddess Saraswati and Lord Kuber are worshipped on the same day as well. The idol of Lord Ganesha is placed on the right hand side of the kalasha pointing towards the south west direction and the Panchmukhi Diya or the five faced lamp is lit accommodating five wicks. Some devotees draw the Swastika symbol on the safe or vault, where the valuables are kept and are worshipped as a symbol of Lord Kubera.
Before the commencement of the puja, offerings of turmeric, kumkuma and flowers are first made to the water, which invokes Goddess Saraswati. The puja begins by worshipping the Hindu Goddess Lakshmi and reciting Vedic mantras, hymns and prayers. The idol of Goddess Lakshmi is placed in a plate and is bathed with panchamrita, which is a mixture of milk, curd, ghee or clarified butter, honey and sugar. And at the end of the Lakshmi Puja, aarti is performed.
Celebration of Lakshmi Puja in India
It is believed that on the Diwali night, Goddess Lakshmi roams the earth and people invite her in by keeping their doors and windows open by placing lamps on their windowsills and balcony ledges. During this festival many people especially merchants worship their account books, invoking Lakshmi to reside in them. Farmers are enjoined to worship their crops as imbued with Lakshmi's presence.
The Goddess is also called upon to drive away her sister Alakshini who is associated with bad luck and misfortune. Blessings of Goddess Lakshmi bring success in every field of life, even though it is known that the goddess never stays permanently with anybody. She is very restless and agile. The mantra used for worshipping Goddess Lakshmi is: "Om Shree Maha Lakshmai Namah" or "Om Shreen Hreen Shreen Kamlae Kamlalae Praseed Praseed Shreen Hreen Shreen Maha -Lakshmae Na mah". The most auspicious time for the puja is decided when Amavasya tithi prevails during Pradosh Kaal or the evening time.
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