How She is Honored
Devotions to Lakshmi
Lakshmi Puja: A Lakshmi puja is a formal worship service to venerate Lakshmi. It is always performed at Diwali, and it is often performed on Fridays at Hindu temples, but it is a service that can occur during any sacred occasion, or it can be performed by request. A Hindu priest can officiate a puja in a private home, and devotees also conduct their own home puja. This often falls to the women, who organize elaborate holy offerings to the goddess. There is a specific order to the worship and a detailed list of items, spices, foods, and offerings needed to offer a traditional puja at home. Anyone of any faith may attend or sponsor a puja in a temple in the United States or India. You can also order a puja online via a US-based Hindu Temple or from India directly. In recent times, this worship service has become more available through live and video pujas shared on social media.
Varalakshmi Vratam. Married Hindu women perform this special vratam to the Varalakshmi aspect of Lakshmi. It is often done in the home, or in a group of women, on the Friday before the full moon in August, especially in South India. It is an important annual "vow to the Lakshmi who offers boons" to bring well-being to women, their husbands, and their families. This ritual begins with welcoming Lakshmi to your home.
Lakshmi Abhishekam: This sacred purification is an anointing and a bathing of the divine icon. It is typically conducted by a Hindu priest in a temple setting. It involves washing of the goddess with water, milk, yogurt, honey, and more while chanting specific mantras and prayers. The names of the goddess are chanted along with other devotions. The priest then closes the curtain to privately dress her in a beautiful sari and jewels. The ritual continues with prayers and the presentation of the goddess in all her finery. Prasad (sacred food or a divinely blessed gift) is offered to devotees in the form of rice, flowers, coconuts, and other items. They also receive blessings from the light of the sacred lamp. Sometimes they sing devotional songs.
Lakshmi Archana: It can be heard ringing through a Hindu temple all day long. It is a form of worship that can be performed in front of Lakshmi's icon (or any deities) at any time and any day of the week. It is one of the most accessible forms of traditional worship. Usually, a devotee goes to the temple, pays a small donation, and is given a bag of fruit or coconut that the priest will have blessed by the goddess as prasad. The priest chants the 108 names of Lakshmi, communes with the goddess on your behalf, and comes back with the blessed fruit. He will also offer you a chance to be blessed by the smoke of the sacred fire he used during the chanting, as well as putting a small flower and rice into your hand. He may also touch your forehead with a blessing.
Lakshmi Homam: This is an ancient Hindu fire ritual. It is known by several different names, including homa, havan or yajna, yagya or yajana, depending on the region of India. It offers respect to the god of fire, Agni, and has a specific, time-honored approach to honoring Lakshmi or any deity. Saranam.com, an India-based service that helps people around the world partake in rituals at sacred temples in India, explains it this way. "During a homam, divine presence is invoked into the fire using specific procedures. Then materials are offered into the fire, along with sacred chants (mantras). The offerings are believed to reach the deity."
Lakshmi Aarti: This is a traditional devotional song to Lakshmi. One of the classics is known as "Jai Laxmi Mata," and it offers a way to celebrate her and invoke her energy. It is often sung in temples after worship. When sung in her native tongue, it has a rhythmic tune you can follow along with. It can also be enjoyed in partial English, with the same musical beat. Either way, it is enchanting. Here's a sample:
O Mother Lakshmi, victory to thee, victory to thee.
Even Shiva, Vishnu, and Brahma show reverence to you, day and night! Victory to thee.
You are the mother of the world, and you are famous as Rudrani, Brahmani, and Kamala. Even luminaries like the Sun and Moon (deities) worship you devotedly.
And divine sage Narada sings your great glory.
The devoted worship of you surely bestows all kinds of riches and happiness.
Lakshmi Vrat: This is performed by women on an auspicious Friday for themselves and the welfare of their families. The aim is to receive favors (boons) from the goddess of fortune. It is a tradition to fast and then gather to perform the rituals as a group. Every group of women that gather brings their own unique energy to the ritual, but according to the classic Vaibhava Laxmi Vrat booklet, it may go like this: Women hold rice (uncooked) in their hands, enfolding it in their loving energy and their prayers, as one woman reads a famous tale about the way the Goddess manifests in people's lives. The sharing of stories about miracles that Lakshmi has created in people's lives is important. Next, the rice is poured on an image of Lakshmi as a loving tribute. Flower petals are also tossed at or sprinkled on the image. The ritual includes hymns to the goddess, meditating on the Shri Yantra, singing devotional songs (aarti), and offering a plate of food to the goddess.
Lakshmi Friday: Lakshmi is sometimes affiliated with the Roman goddess Venus. They were both born from the sea as fully formed goddesses. They are both worshiped on Fridays. Lakshmi veneration is often held in Hindu Temples on Fridays and in-home pujas. It is believed that Lakshmi opens the doors of prosperity and material fulfillment on Fridays.
Lakshmi Prayer Beads: In Hinduism, 108 divine names are chanted while holding a strand of 108 mala beads. The idea is that each divine name counteracts an aspect of negativity by representing a powerful, positive attribute of the god or goddess. In the case of Lakshmi, they honor and often affectionately describe her attributes and aspects. The beads are often made of lotus seeds for her worship, or you can also choose a mala strand in pearl or any auspicious gem. Lakshmi has more than 108 names if you factor in that there are at least one thousand names for the Divine Mother, and some of them would fall into her realm as Mahalakshmi.
Lakshmi Wealth Mantra: This abundance mantra enlists the energy of Lakshmi to attain abundance in any form: Om Shrim Maha Lakshmiyei Swaha. It translates to: "My salutations or adoration to the great Lakshmi."
Lakshmi Lotus: Lakshmi is the Goddess of the Lotus, a symbol of purity. She is often pictured standing or sitting upon the pink lotus. Many divine beings are pictured on a lotus. Gods and goddesses are not subject to earthly laws, so their feet never touch the ground. All parts of the lotus are symbolic, yet the whole flower is a symbol of beauty, happiness, purity, and eternal renewal, like Lakshmi herself. The two lotus flowers in her back hands are said to signify gifts of the spirit. Lotus is the national flower of India. Lakshmi is almost always on her lotus, seated or standing. Sometimes 108 lotuses are offered to her in rituals or 108 petals. She and Vishnu are pictured together in different forms―this includes riding on their vahana (sacred vehicle), Garuda, or sitting on the cosmic snake, Shesha―but they can also be spotted standing close to one another on individual lotuses.
Lakshmi Murti: The Hindu culture is alive with colorful images and icons of Lakshmi and all deities in her pantheon. These sacred images are central to Hindu worship. They enhance the devotee's ability to develop a relationship with the Divine by offering a visual representation of the deity. This gives humans a way to focus their devotion on divine figures who are omnipresent, yet somewhat abstract to many people. The icons and images, referred to as murti, can be more than a reminder of the divine personality. Some believe that the deity is embodied within the murti when it has been worshipped according to the correct spiritual prescription. Thus, you can connect with the presence of Lakshmi in her images and icons. This can be in a temple, at a shrine, in a museum, or at home in small statues and images.
Honoring Alakshmi: Lakshmi has a twin sister named Alakshmi. She is known as a goddess of bad fortune and misery. On Diwali, she is honored as a way to clear the path for the goddess of fortune. Alakshmi worship, which is called Alakshmividya (vidya means knowledge or wisdom), is usually in conjunction with Lakshmi pujas or specifically before the worship of Lakshmi on Diwali Eve. People bang pots and pans to chase her away, but you can honor her any time. In a more compassionate light, Alakshmi can also be embraced as a shadow sister who has lessons to teach.