Pujas and Festivals :
Our darling Sri Lakshmi Devi, the Goddess of Light, is the daughter of the Ksheerabdi, the ocean of milk (the milky way.) (Kurma Puranam : 2 : Vishnu explains Lakshmi)
She was born when the ocean of milk was churned and married Sri Maha Vishnu on the same day. The 12th day of of Karthika Masam is Ksheerabdi Dwadasi. Everyone in Bangalore is off buying or acquiring little branches of amla (gooseberry) branches.
(Amla is very very rich in vitamin C and gives resistance to the colds and flus that winter might bring). Vishnu loves Amla and is glad to see it in every home!! And if that is not enough the lamps are made out of lemon rinds turned inside out! (Lots more vitamin C from the lemons!)
And they are going to worship Devi with lamps.
The festival of lamps that starts with Deepavali (Aswiyuja Amavasya) continues throughout the festive Karthika Masam – called Karthika Deepalu. Karthika Masam Mondays are favorite days to worship Siva. The first 6 days of Karthika Masam, there are festivals to Skanda (Kumaraswamy, Subrahmanya Swami, Shanmukha) in Tamil Nadu. In Andhra the 4th day of Karthika Masam is called Nagula Chavithi. Nagula Chavithi and Karthika Pournami (full moon) are days for fire-cracker burning. Karthika Masam in Andhra is also famous for Vana Bhojanalu – Moonlit Dinners.
The spiritual seekers are up before dawn and turn to the east to pray.
The brightest full moon occurs close to the winter solstice, which occurs in the month following Karthika Masam. (Margasira Masam). That is when the moon is nearest the earth (its perigee) and the earth is nearest the sun. The moon is closer (therefore bigger) and receives 7% more sunlight and is therefore brighter as well. Kartigai Deepam as related to Arunachaleswara, Ksheera Sagara Mathanam (Location) ; Ksheera sagara: Ocean of milk: The milky way; Nakshatras, Masas, Rtus, Varas, Rasis, Specialities
The Bhavishya Puranam is full of interesting things. One of them is the procedure of performing the Varamahalakshmi Vratam and
teh story behind it. One devout lady of Vidarbha called Charumati Devi once dreamed of Lakshmi Devi, who told her how to perform the Varamahalakshmi Vratam and when. When .. is the Friday before the s’rAvaNa mAsa full moon, every year. It as an all woman festival and all that guys get to do is eat.
As in all our neighbouring households, people got ultra-clean, headbaths and all and cooked up a dream. Then they got down to the Puja. First the sankalpa which states our location in time as well as space and then the purpose as well as the deity of worship.
I am not sure what NRI Hindus will say in place of Bharata Varshe Bharata Khande.. etc.. but the Vikruti Nama Samvatsara, Moola Nakshatra, Sukla Paksha , Sarvesheam Ekadasi, part should be common. Maybe they will just give the Julian Date and latitude and longitude. Devi can understand.
Anyway, the first puja is always to Vighneshwara, a huge personal favorite of mine and then to the kalas’a. Into the kala’sa we invoke Brahma, Siva and Vishnu as well as all the waters of the world especially the saptasindhus. This is the pure water we offer Lakshmi Devi to wash her hands and feet, to bathe and to drink. We offer her a panchamruta snanam of water, curds, ghee, honey and sugar.. and all this becomes prasadam for us.
We offer her sandalwood paste, and a lovely, sacred and well decorated place to sit. We offer her ghee lamps with 3 wicks, sweet scented incense as well camphor. We offer her lovely flowers, jewels and clothes. And all this becomes prasadam for us.
Pleased with all our efforts, she blesses us with long life, good health, wealth, success of our families, sons and grandsons, our chosen wishes, dharma, artha, kama and moksha.
And in case there is a lapse in our procedure somewhere, we can always rely on Sri Krishna, to fill in the gaps, cover for us and ensure that we get pUrNaphala or the full benefit of an apt service.
We chant the names of the Devi and sing her songs. Since I now know the Sri Suktham with Vedic Swaras , I chanted that to please Her, the Divine Mother, the Light in us and outside us.
Eventime, we went visiting all the neighbours who had a ‘perantam’ (telugu). Basically we have a darshan of the Devi in their houses and the ladies of that house load us with coconuts and soaked unhusked channal dal seeds (sometimes raw, sometimes sprouted and cooked). They give us bangles and betel leaves, areca nuts and kumuma and pasupu (turmeric). . There is singing in some houses.
- Travel : A golden temple of Sri Mahalakshmi at Sripuram, Vellore, Tamilnadu
- There is a Laksmi vigraha on the outside prakaras of the Thirupathi temple. Touching it is said to bring you wealth. It worked for me.
- Mahalakshmi Temple, Kolhapur.
While explaining the Sri Suktham.. I put forward my reasons for treating Lakshmi as light. In my posts on Time, Life and Consciousness I have explained why I hold that Devi, Sakthi is energy. Lakshmi is the “light” part of energy.
We know of Lakshmi as sthoola and sookshma, both material and fine, maha sakti, the great energy.. Indians as a rule are comfortable with, This And That, we don’t insist on the exclusive Or. Why should I worship Lakshmi if she is “only” light? The Indian way is ancient. We worship parents, guests, trees, children, food, knowledge, rivers, light, darkness… everything!
To me it seems that the bio electrical signals of my little brain (also Devi), that I call my heartfelt prayers, actually influence other little events in my life, which are really the energy (Devi) in other things. (Light : Lakshmi : Vishnu)
All the pictures of Lakshmi Devi, show gold coins streaming from her hands. The Vedic Sri Suktham, tells us that Lakshmi is she who causes/is a stream (srajaa) of brilliant (rajata) good colour light (su-varna) and that she is herself the colour of hiraNya ( gold, deer). (Light : Bits of Light Energy (Photons) : suvarna rajata srajaa Lakshmi : mass energy equivalence, sat sakti equivalence, advaita, sat cit ananda)
We have thus far identified Lakshmi Devi, who is an aspect of Devi, with Light. And we have learnt from physics, that Light is the fastest of all. We can’t catch up with light. Light is made up of massless particles called photons. The moment a photon is created, it quickly accelerates to c = 3*10^8 m/s. Nothing can go faster than a massless particle in vaccuum!!
In Sri Suktham, we tell Agni, the one born of Vedas (jAtavEda) to bring Lakshmi! (lakshmIm jAtavedO ma Avaha). We tell fire to go bring us light. When electrons “jump” the “right” energy states photons can be emitted. We tell the electrons to release photons! (Fire : A chemical reaction : Agni : Electron Motion : Photon emission : Lakshmi : Sri Suktham)
Lakshmi, anupagAminI, whose movement is incomparable, light, moves equally fast in your frame of reference and mine. She is not partial to you or me. Atoms are held together by the electromagnetic force carriers ie photons. The universe (Viswam, Vishnu) is held together by threads of light, by Lakshmi Mata! (Why should the speed of light be same in all non accelerating frames of reference?)
At cosmological scales, Lakshmi takes time. It takes many earth years for light to reach from far away galaxies to the earth. But as far as Lakshmi is concerned, time hasn’t moved at all. At the speed at which Lakshmi moves, clocks stand still!
However many people worship Lakshmi Devi to get money (Dhana). No less a person than Indra called Lakshmi as Mahamaya (the great illusion), Mahasakti (the great power/energy) and Jagan Mata (the mother of the world). People also worship for Siddhi, Buddhi, Bhukthi, Mukthi, Vijaya, Dhana, Dhanya for courage, illumination, metal stability, peace of mind and so on.
I am a firm believer that even thinking of Devi will make problems of every kind vanish and bring every form of prosperity
I understand Devi can be Lalita, Saraswathi, Lakshmi, Durga, Parvati, Tripura Sundari, Kunda, Satya, Radha, Sarada, Ganga, Godavari, Narmada.. as well as Kaalika, Nidra, Krodhaa… and Chandi. And that in all of her aspects, she looks after us. I may have a particular love for Saraswathi and you for Durga, depending on our own natures.
I understand that though Lalita and Kaalika are so different, they are descriptions of the same Devi. Much has to do with the observer and the circumstances of the observation. (Light : Stereotypes : Wave, Particle Duality (Dvaita) : Lakshmi Devi and Me)
The universe, Viswam is a name-attribute of Vishnu as per theVishnu Sahasranamam. The entire structure of the universe is held together by residual electromagnetic forces, the force carrier particles of which are photons, particles of light,Lakshmi. And thus does She permeate the Vais’vanara and hold Him together. (Touch : ‘Untouchable’ Universe : Pushing : Colliding : Electromagnetic Force Carrier Particles : Photons : Lakshmi Devi holds the Universe together!)
But how big is a photon? ()
“…….of the physical dimensions of a photon. On that topic, I must say that since the photon consists of changing energy fields, the photon encompasses that volume of space in which those energy fields have significant effect. Thus, if a photon from a radio wave passes close enough to a receiving antenna, it will transfer its energy to the antenna, giving rise to an electrical signal even as the photon itself ceases to exist. The “size” of the photon is that volume of space within which this phenomenon can occur. The higher the frequency of the photon, the higher its energy level. Therefore, such photons will have a correspondingly larger field of influence than their lower-energy counterparts…..” (Source :http://www.play-hookey.com/optics/photon_characteristics.html)
“In the wave idea of light, colour is determined by the rate at which the wave wiggles; a rapid, energetic wiggle for blue and a more leisurely wiggle for red. You can measure the distance that the light travels for each wiggle, and this is the ‘wavelength’ – it appears to be less than a thousandth of a millimetre for light…. The apparent length (in the direction of movement) of a moving object gets smaller as its speed approaches the speed of light… Since a photon travels always at the speed of light then it will always appear to have no length at all. This is, of course, whilst it is on the move… We cannot know its size or shape. The appearance of light itself turns out to be a real secret; we cannot see that which we use to see everything else” (Source : http://www.oxygraphics.co.uk/photons.htm)