English meaning of the festival
Varaluxmi is the giver of vara, meaning boons or wishes. In this form Lakshmi brings prosperity, well-being and fulfilment to the home. The vow, or vrata, is each devotee’s pledge to honour the female principle in the highest manner by observing this elaborate festival.
How the date is decided annually
Varaluxmi Vratam occurs on the Friday preceding the full moon in the Hindu month of Shravana (August/September).
Significance of the festival to Hinduism
Devotees pray for their family’s prosperity and well-being. A thread is tied to the Goddess. A similar thread is prepared for each devotee and placed in front of the Goddess during the puja. After the rituals, the thread-bracelets are distributed and worn on the right wrist as a mark of protection. Raksha Sutra is the raw cotton tied around the wrist of devotees participating in Varaluxmi Vratam worship. Every time we see this thread, it should remind us of this prayer/appeal for protection and it should remind us of God. When we think of God, there is no opportunity to engage in impure/sinful activities – and this (avoiding wrong activities) is our protection.
How to observe/practice
Homes are thoroughly cleaned, decorated and prepared the day before for the Goddess’ arrival. The next morning, a ceremony is performed honouring Ganesha. Worship of Varaluxmi with various auspicious items is conducted. Sweet dishes are prepared and offered to Varaluxmi. These sweet dishes are then eaten as Prasadh (grace of the Mother).