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Mahalaxmi Vrat (fast) is a festival particularly dedicated to Goddess of Lakshmi (Goddess of wealth) or ‘Mahalakshmi’ (Maha means great). Lakshmi the goddess, in Hindu mythology, is known to be the principle goddess for wealth, prosperity, wisdom, fortune, generosity, courage and fertility.
Mahalakshmi Vrat is considered to be an extremely sacred festival in Hindu religion. This Vrat (fast) is observed by married women. It is observed to seek the blessings of Mahalakshmi, wife of Lord Vishnu, who is known to be the giver of wealth and prosperity.
Lakshmi Pooja is performed for a period of 16 days, between Bhadrapad Shukla Ashtami and Ashwin Krishna Ashtami, i.e. it starts on the eighth day of bright moon phase in Bhadra month and Mahalkashmi vrat ends on the eighth day of Dark moon phase in Ashwin month.
According to Hindu mythology, there are various legends associated with this festival. In Bhavishya Purana (one of the 18 major Puranas or ancient Hindu scriptures), it is believed that when Yudhishtira (eldest brother of the Pandavas) asked Lord Krishna about any ritual or fast that can be observed to regain their lost prosperity and wealth, which they lost in the dicing game, Lord Krishna suggested Mahalakshmi Vrat. This fast is believed to help in regaining health, wealth, prosperity, family and kingdom through the divine grace and benevolence of Goddess Lakshmi.
A popular legend also suggests that this fast was recommended by Lord Shiva to his wife Parvati to gain wealth and good fortune. Another legend explains the story of a very devout lady named Charumati. She was visited by Lakshmi, the Goddess, in her dream and she asked Charumati to observe this fast to get her wishes fulfilled. She dutifully observed this fast along with other ladies of the village with great love and devotion. They offered the Goddess a lot of delicacies too. When the fast was completed successfully, they were amazed that their bodies were beautifully adorned with expensive jewels and their houses were filled with abundance riches. Since then, women observe this fast for prosperity.
Rituals and ObservationsThis festival is celebrated mainly in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. On this festival, women get up early and take a ritual bath and offer prayers to Surya Bhagwaan (Sun God). They sprinkle some sacred water on their bodies and then tie sixteen knotted strings on their left wrist. A Kalasha (a metal pot) is filled with water and is decorated with betel or mango leaves. A coconut is ornamented beautifully with a red-coloured cloth and a thread is further tied around it. This coconut is placed on the top of the Kalasha. A sacred symbol called Swastika, which represents four lines known as four Vedas (Holy Scriptures), is drawn on Kalasha with vermillion. Earthen lamps and incense sticks are lit, and mantra for Lakshmi is recited with full enthusiasm. After performing Laxmi puja (worship), the Mahalkashmi vrat endswith great celebration and devotion.
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