SRI VARALAKSHMI FAST
When the fast is observed?
The word Varalakshmi denotes Goddess Lakshmi who gives all the boons requested by devotees. The Tamil word varam means ‘boon’. Varalakshmi is a manifestation of Sri Mahaalakshmi.
This fast is observed on the Friday which occurs just before the full moon day of the Tamil month of AavaNi. Generally it falls in the month of Aadi; nevertheless, it can also fall in the month of AavaNi, as the day of fast is decided by the occurrence of the full moon for the month of AavaNi.
The Common Puranic information given for the observation of the fast
As with all our Hindu festivals, Sri Varlakshmi Fast also is supported by a few puranic episodes. One common story is that Pathrasravaa was a king of the country Sauraashtra.His wife was Susanthrika. They had a daughter by the name Syaamaa. The queen was known for her conduct, kindness and all virtues. Being impressed by the queen, Devi Mahaalakshmi came to her house on a Friday in the disguise of an elderly married woman. The goddess came with the intention of telling the queen to observe Sri Varalakshmi fast; but first she asked why the queen was not fasting on a Friday. The queen, being irritated by the question, did not want to hear what the elderly lady had to say, and chased her away.
When the Goddess Laksmi, in the disguise of an old woman, was going away with a sad face, the queen’s daughter Syaamaa asked why the elderly lady was sad. When she heard what happened, Syaamaa asked the lady to teach her how to observe the fast.
Soon the queen’s wealth started to dwindle. Before it can take a dangerous turn, she got her daughter married to a king, Maalaatharan. Soon the king, Pathrasvaraa, lost his kingdom to his enemy. The king and queen became homeless; they had no food to eat. As their daughter was observing the Varalakshmi fast, she was blessed with a happy and wealthy life.
When the daughter came to know about her parents wandering around the streets, she, not wanting to bring them to her residence, made them stay in another house and sent food for them. As she found this difficult, Syaamaa sent a pot full of gold coins to her parents. When they opened the lid of the pot, the gold became mere coal. When Syaamaa heard this she was very sad. She remembered what her mother did to the elderly lady; therefore she advised her mother to start observing the Varalakshmi fast.
When Susanthrika started observing the fast, the couple started getting the wealth (due to the grace of Dhanlakshmi), gradually. Subsequently, the former ministers and army men came back to the king. The king gained courage (with the grace of Dhairiyalakshmi); he fought back (with the grace of Veeralakshmi) his enemy and gained his kingdom (with the grace of Raajyalakshmi or Gajalakshmi). He ruled his country well; therefore the country naturally was blessed with good education (Vidhyaalakshmi) and a surplus of food (Dhaanyalakshmi).
According to, Sivanantha Sarma, the author of the book, “Saiva ViradhnaggaLum Vil(z)aakkaLum” this fast is mentioned in Pavishyoatthara PuraaNam. When Devi Uma asked Lord Siva to name a fast which will bless a devotee with all the comforts, all good fortune and good progeny, the Lord recommended Sri Varalakshmi fast.
The Message of the Puranic Story – The Benefit of Observing the Fast
From the story, the message that, Sri Varalakshmi fast will give all the boons given by the eight individual forms of Lakshmi; these eight forms are collectively known as Astalakshmi.
“Lakshmi is commonly known as Goddess of wealth. Wealth is not only the money. Tradition and values of life is also wealth. Our family and progress is also wealth. Our belongings such as land, properties, animals, grains, etc as well as virtues like patience, persistence, purity etc in the form of a character are nothing but our wealth and so also glory or victory. Thus this eightfold Sri Lakshmi is known as Sri Ashta Lakshmi.
Mother Lakshmi is the source and provider of the following enumerated well-known sixteen types of wealth and many more. (1) Fame (2) Knowledge (3) Courage and Strength (4) Victory (5) Good Children (6) Valour (7) Gold and other gross properties (8) Grains in abundance (9) Happiness (10) Bliss (11) Intelligence (12) Beauty (13) Higher Aim, High Thinking and Higher Meditation too (14) Morality and Ethics (15) Good Health (16) Long Life.” http://www.divyajivan.org/ashtalakshmi/ashtalakshmi_adhyatma.htm. (This corresponds to the concept of 16 wealth when we bless someone, ‘PadhinaaRum petRu peruvaal(z)vu vaal(z)ha!)
The website http://hinduism.about.com/od/hindugoddesses/ss/Ashtalakshmi says that, “The eight forms of Ashta-Lakshmi are believed to fulfill these human necessities and desires through their individual nature and manifestations.
The eight divine forms of Goddess Lakshmi or Ashta-Lakshmi comprises:
1.Aadi-Lakshmi (The Primeval Goddess) or Maha Lakshmi (The Great Goddess)
2. Dhana-Lakshmi or Aishwarya Lakshmi (The Goddess of Prosperity and Wealth)
3. Dhaanya-Lakshmi (Goddess of Food grains)
4. Gaja-Lakshmi (The Elephant Goddess)
5. Santana-Lakshmi (The Goddess of Progeny)
6. Veera-Lakshmi or Dhairya Lakshmi (The Goddess of Valor and Courage)
7. Vidya-Lakshmi (The Goddess of Knowledge)
8. Vijaya-Lakshmi or Jaya Lakshmi (The Goddess of Victory)”.
If we observe Sri Varalakshmi Fast, we will be blessed with whichever form of wealth we are aspiring for. Although it is mainly recommended to attain Lakshmi’s blessings of long married life for the married women, and a good marriage for the unmarried girls, it is to be noted knowledge and education is wealth, good character is a wealth and all good assets we have are all respected as wealth. This fact will be well understood if we refer to the 16 forms of wealth which are listed above.
How Sri Varalakshmi Fast is observed?
Special Poojaa for Sri Varalakshmi is to be performed in the evening, when the cows return home from their graze. One, who observes Sri Varalakshmi Fast, should clean the house and set up the place for the poojaa, if she is going to do the special prayers at home. Nowadays, not many do the elaborate prayer at home for want of time. Most ladies and girls observe a light fast by having one meal in the afternoon, and go to temples to participate in the special prayers for Goddess Varlakshmi and in the ThiruviLakku Poojaa, which subsequently follows the evening poojaa.
It is of interest to know that the kumbam used for invoking Sri Varalakshmi is filled with rice. Another special feature is at the end of poojaa, women are given yellow strings to be worn around the right wrist instead of left.
Light is very much adored in our religion. A good housewife is praised as ‘kudumbatthin kuththu viLakku’ (the kutthu vilakku of the family). Generally, light helps us to move around safely without any unforeseen accidents. Similarly a good housewife will take her family relatively safely through ups and downs with her five qualities, namely, love (anbu), mental strength (mana uRudhi), doing everything with care and patience (nidhaanam), having presence of mind (samayoasodha putthi) and endurance (sahipputthnamai). These five qualities are said to be represented by the five flames of a traditional kutthu viLakku. Married women are also referred to as grahalakshmi (the Lakshmi of the house).
Light is looked upon as an auspicious thing in our rituals. Lakshmi is also called Thiru. The dictionary gives many meanings; some of them are ‘Goddess Lakshmi’, ‘wealth’, ‘beauty’, ‘blessing’ and ‘sacredness’. Goddess Lakshmi avails Herself in clean and bright places; there is happiness and brightness in a place which is graced by Her. Therefore, Goddess Lakshmi is aptly invoked in the kutthu viLakku and offered special prayers in conjunction with Sri Varalakshmi Fast.
It was said earlier that the ThiruviLakku Poojaa will bless its devotees with a long and happy married life for married women and a good marriage for young girls; nevertheless, it will also bless its devotee with bright knowledge and success in all endeavours as Sri Varalakashmi give all boons given by all the eight Lakshmis.
Happy Varalakshmi Fast! May auspiciousness prevail everywhere!