Saturday, August 25, 2018

Daily Puja for Evening Worshipers

People who are unable to afford time for performing their daily puja in the morning times can do it in the evening times after returning from their jobs.

The Supreme Being or God knows your problems and weaknesses. So, he may not demand that you should perform your worship only in the morning time or in a particular method.

If you can afford to perform it in the morning time, it is well and good. Because the morning time is best suited as you will be fresh and peaceful. But, modern lifestyles and job culture do not allow many people to devote time during the morning hours. They will be more worried about how to reach the office timely rather than concentrating on God.

So, I thought of suggesting an alternative puja process for such people (on a request from one of my friends) who can perform it in the evening times at their convenience which can further be adjusted or modified according to your own beliefs, needs, and available time.

Evening Puja Performance

Puja Materials

Idol of God/Goddess or Photos/Images
Lamp holder (either bronze or steel or any metal)
Oil for lighting the light
Wicks and Matchbox
Flowers (optional)
Incense sticks (Agarbatti) and Camphor

A small Metal Pot and Spoon (preferably copper or silver) filled with water for performing puja.
A plate or wide bowl for dropping water into it as if offering to God or as if washing God's hands and feet.

Naivedyam (any sweet dish cooked for naivedyam or simple rice, or fruits, or Gur/jaggery/mishri).

1. Get Ready for Starting Puja

  • Wash your legs, hands, and the face. If you are taking a bath, that's well and good.
  • But change your clothes, in either case, wearing some neat and clean, pure clothes.
  • Clean the puja place and remove the old puja material including the old wicks. 
  • Light the oil lights by adding some new oil and fresh wicks to the lighting lamps (diyas). You may light two wicks in the same lamp holder or light two lights separately in different holders.

2. Starting the Puja

  • Chant the purification sloka of "apavitra..." sprinkling drops of water over your head with your right thumb and all around the worship place with the spoon.
  • You may tell your God that you could not afford time in the morning times and so are doing the puja in the evening times. And, seek his forgiveness and permission to do so.
  • Here is a detailed version of starting any puja. But you need not follow all these procedures. You can simply do the purification mantra and start your puja.

3. Chant Your Prayers and Hymns

  • Perform your puja with some easy-to-recite slokas glorifying your God like Lakshmi Stuti, Vishnu Stuti, Shiva Stuti, Tirupati Balaji Stuti, Sri Rama Stuti, Sri Krishna Stuti, Ganesh lyrics, Hanuman lyrics, etc. You can choose any two or three from above or anything that you like most.
  • You may offer flowers also while doing so or you may decorate the God with the flowers first and, then, begin chanting the worship slokas.
  • Whatever you do, do it with real faith and sincerity.
4. Thereafter, as usual, light the incense sticks and show them to God assuming that God is sniffing the incense with pleasure.

5. Next, show the wick lights to Him/Her with your right hand.

6. Now, it is time to offer some naivedyam (any fruits or home-made food). You can offer even some Gur/Jaggery or the Mishri (rock sugar) as the naivedyam.

7. After Naivedyam, show some water to God in the spoon or with a mango leaf or pan leaf (betel leaf) and drop it in the plate or bowl kept there for that purpose (as if washing their hands and feet). 
Offer water again to drink (show to the God and drop in the plate).

8. Thereafter, light the camphor and recite the mangaLAsAsanam.

Now, the puja is over.
Seek the blessings from God and take/distribute the prasadam.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Varalakshmi Vratam - Goddess Lakshmi Puja

Varalakshmi Vratam is the worship of Goddess Lakshmi especially performed on the second Friday of Shravana month.

Varalakshmi means One who gifts you with all those desires sought by you.

It is performed basically by women and girls. Women seek the happiness of their husband and the family. Girls seek for a good husband.

The month of Shravan is considered to be very dear to Goddess Lakshmi or Parvati. That's why ladies perform the Mangala Gauri Vratam or Vara Lakshmi Vratam in this month with great devotion and love inviting the Goddess to visit their homes and bestow them with all Abundance and Happiness.

How to Perform Varalakshmi Vratam

Generally, people perform this vratam in the evening times even though there is no such restriction to perform it in the evenings only. Many of them perform on the Second Friday whereas others may perform it on any one of those four or five Fridays falling in this month of Shravan.

  • Get up early in the morning and take the oil-bath. 
  • Decorate your homes and the main-door entrance with flowers and mango leaves, etc. Turmeric paste is applied to the door entrances and they get designed with kumkum spots and white rangoli powder lines. Rangoli designs are prepared in front of the entrances. Flower garlands and mango leave garlands are hanged to the door top. All this is done to welcome Goddess Lakshmi.
  • All preparations and cooking of special dishes for puja purpose done during the day-time.
  • House washing and cleansing are advisable to be done on the previous day itself or early in the morning hours before taking the bath. 
  • Most people soak the chickpeas in water and before starting the puja, they are removed from the water and offered to God after the puja. You will be inviting the married women and girls in your neighborhood to participate in the puja. Similarly, you also need to attend their homes and visit their Goddess also on this occasion.
  • On the Varalakshmi Vratam Day, it is most desirable to keep open the doors during the evening hours before lighting the lights and throughout the puja period. Goddess will enter your house in any form if you sincerely do the worship.
  • In the evening, when you sit for the puja, make an image of the Goddess with turmeric paste in a mango leaf or lotus leaf. You need not be an artist for this. Simply make some small image and worship it as Goddess Lakshmi. The regular idols and images of God and Goddess are also worshiped along with this turmeric Goddess.
  • Perform the puja with flowers, kumkum, and dry turmeric powder. 
  • You can simply read some hymns of Goddess Lakshmi and worship her with the 108 names offering these flowers, turmeric, and kumkum after each name. Or, if you can afford more time, do the worship with all 1008 names known as Lakshmi Sahasranamam. 
  • After puja is over, offer the incense and show the lights to her. Then, offer the various dishes that you prepared along with the soaked chickpeas and fruits to her as naivedyam.
  • After naivedyam, light the camphor and chant the Mangala Harati, etc.
  • Now, your puja is over.
  • Distribute the prasadam (chickpeas, fruits, etc.) to the ladies attending the puja. 
  • It is a practice to offer blouse pieces, bangles, and flowers also to the participating ladies along with the prasadam. It is believed that it lengthens the life of those ladies as well as your own prosperous happy life.

 So, perform this Lakshmi Puja and obtain the blessings of Goddess Lakshmi as well as the blessings of all the elderly ladies.