Gold and Varalakshmi Vratam go together in Andhra Pradesh. Goddess Varalakshmi is the giver of prosperity and wealth. With wealth synonymous with gold and gold again being the costliest of all, people make it a point to purchase at least a gram of gold and offer it to the Goddess during the vratam. Any offering to God, it is said, would be returned manifold and therefore devotees believe that their offering to the Goddess would bring them back more and more of gold and prosperity.
The advent of the month of Sravana would witness the gold jewellery shops crowded. Women, who perform the famous Sravana Mangalagouri Vratam on all Tuesdays, would love to offer worship wearing gold jewellery as they considered it auspicious.
Goddess Varalakshmi is the giver of all boons and Varalakshmi Vratam is celebrated on the Friday before the full moon day or pournami in the month of Sravanam. Those, who miss the date perform the vratam on that day, usually do it on any other Friday of the month.
Women performing the vratam may observe fast or take an early dinner on the eve of Varalakshmi Vratam. On the puja day, they get up early in the morning, at least a couple of hours before dawn, and take a head-bath.
The household premises are cleaned and the entrances smeared with turmeric paste and the kum kum marks applied to begin with. A puja spot - mandapam - is set up by drawing a rangoli. Rice is spread on the rangoli and a kalasa or a small pot is placed on the rice. A coconut is placed atop the kalasa and a small piece of cloth is placed like a cap atop the coconut.
Some attempt to draw the features of the goddess on the coconut to make an image of Her. A mirror is also placed behind the kalasam and some use small pots available in silver and copper with an image of the goddess for the ritual.
After worshipping Lord Ganesa, the normal practice before any ritual, the main puja of Varalakshmi Vratam is performed. After the vratam, women in the vicinity are invited for ‘Perantam' and offered ‘Thambulam'. According to the legend, a Brahmin woman Charumathi lived in Kundina city of Magadha kingdom with her husband and in-laws. She was an ideal wife and daughter-in-law, serving her husband and in-laws dutifully. One night, Charumathi had a dream in which Goddess Mahalakshmi appeared and asked her to perform puja to Varalakshmi, the Goddess Who is giver of boons. Charumati organised the puja and invited her relatives and friends to the puja. Immediately after the puja, not only Charumathi, but also all those who attended it, became very rich. The vratam is performed by all castes without any discrimination and is very popular in Andhra Pradesh.
Huge crowds of women are found visiting market places on the eve of Varalakshmi Vratam. They purchase gold and clothes, and the articles for the puja, and they also buy a copy of Varalakshmi Vratakalpam, a booklet describing the puja procedure which is sold on the occasion.