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Lakshmi puja is an important ritual observed during Diwali. Have a look at the procedure.
Diwali Puja Rituals
Diwali is believed to be the day when Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth and prosperity, emerged from the 'KsheeraSagara' (Ocean of Milk) while devas and asuras churned it for the Amrita (nectar of immortality). It is believed that Goddess Lakshmi visits every house on this day and blesses every one. So, people perform Lakshmi puja on Diwali to please Goddess Lakshmi on this auspicious day. Traditionally, this puja is performed after sunset. People also sing devotional songs dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi and chant prayers during the puja. Once the puja gets over, people light diyas (earthen lamps) which symbolizes the elimination of that evil (darkness). In rural India, which is largely dependent agriculture and farming, cattle are worshiped. In southern part of India, cows are worshipped as cows are considered as the incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi. Let's have a look at how this puja is done.
Lakshmi Puja For Diwali
- Make an elevated platform to keep the idols and the pujaessentialities. Spread a new cloth and place a handful of grains at the center of the platform. Now, place a kalash (pitcher).
- Kalash is an important part of many pujas and Diwali is no exception. The kalash could be made of gold, silver, copper, or terracotta. Fill the 3/4thof the kalash with water and place a lid over it. Keep betel nut, a flower, a coin, and some rice grains in the lid.
- There are many other ways of preparing the kalash. Some people stuff the kalash with grains, beetle nut, flowers etc. Place a small dish on the kalash and fill it with rice grains. Some people keep coconut over the kalash along with five mango leaves around it. Some people cut the coconut and keep all the stuffs in one half of coconut placed over the kalash.
- Bathe the deities Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesh with water and then with rose water (you may use panchamrit instead of rose water) and then again with plain water orwater containing gold ornament or a pearl in it. You may also sprinkle water and panchamrit on the idols with a flower.
- Panchamrit, as the name suggests, is made of five ingredients - ghee, milk, sugar, curd and honey.
- Place the idol of Lord Ganesh in front of the kalash, towards the right (South-West direction).
- Light a lamp first and then start the puja by offering turmeric powder kumkum, and flowers.Pourthe things mentioned above into the water that is kept for the pujaand invoke the river goddesses into this water.
- Adorn the deities with flowers of your choice (some people specifically use lotus for this puja).
- You may keep some sweets, salty snacks and fruits as 'prashad', to distribute among the devotees after the puja.
It is a custom to worship Lord Ganesh before worshipping any other God or Goddess. So, worship Lord Ganesh by chanting hymns and conducting an aarti.
Keep a flower (lotus or any other flowers) at the feet of the idol as an offering. Place a silver coin in front of the idol. Now, invoke goddess Lakshmi by reciting the mantras. You may recite the mantras mentioned in the Puranas or chant her names, along with offering the flowers to the idol. Distribute the offered sweets and snacks as 'prasad' among the devotees.
The rituals of Diwali puja have regional and caste specific differences. The steps mentioned above are just generic. There may be difference in the things used, the way it is done and even in the hymns chanted. However, the spirit of the celebration is same everywhere.