Varalakshmi pooja, which falls tomorrow, is observed with rituals, music, and a delicious spread of eats

Varalakshmi pooja falls on Friday, August 12. Hindus believe that Goddess Lakshmi comes visiting on that day. The pooja is generally on the last Friday in the Tamil month of Aadi or Shravan.

Many married women fast on that day and in many a home, it is a tradition that is handed down from mother-in-law to daughter-in law.

Many married women in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka observe this ritual. Several eats are made, the chief among them being ‘kozhakattai'(also known as ‘modakam'), which has a rice flour coating, and a variety of fillings such as jaggery and coconut, jaggery and ground chana dal, powdered gingelly and gud, or steamed urad dal and coconut – a savoury filling. Athirasam, idli, vada and payasams are also made. The goddess is offered a variety of fruits and flowers.

Decorating the courtyard

Early in the morning, the courtyard of the house is decorated with kolam and a kalasam containing rice, betelnut and leaves, a couple of lemons, and coins (usually one preserves the same coins year after year).The kalasam is decorated with haldi-kumkum, a coconut and mango leaves.

A ‘face' in silver (representing the Goddess) is affixed to this. This symbol of Goddess Lakshmi is brought into the house along with a lamp, to the accompaniment of a song – ‘Lakshmi, rave ma intiki….shri rabdiputri varalakshmi, rave ma intiki, bhagyalakshmi, rave ma intiki' – a Telugu invocation inviting the goddess inside the home. The kalasam is placed (on a banana leaf which has rice spread on it) in a makeshift ‘mantapam.'

The pooja involves the chanting of ‘Lakshmi ashtothram' and shlokas in praise of Lord Ganesh. After the poojas are done, a yellow thread is tied on the woman's hand by her husband or other women.

The evening is joyous with music and women visiting the house for haldi-kumkum.

Next day a small pooja called punar poojai is done to bring the rituals to a close. But you have to wait till Sunday morning to lift the Goddess with the kalasam and place her in a rice bin, to be kept safe for next year's Varalakshmi pooja.