How I do Lakshmi Puja living outside of India

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Diwali is just around the corner… it is important to start preparing a week in advance. As a child, I would watch my mother deep clean the house a week before Diwali, making it ready for “Lakshmi Pravesh” (the entering of Goddess Lakshmi inside the home).  Lakshmi is symbolized as the Goddess of Abundance, and more so of Wealth and Prosperity.  So, it was an important ritual every year to prepare for Diwali and give Her a welcome fit for a Goddess.

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Lakshmi puja (Puja means the “act of worshiping”) is one, if not the most important traditions followed during Diwali. Whoever you allow into your home to attend the family Lakshmi Puja immediately brings the person inside the ‘family circle”.

Lakshmi Puja is done to invite Goddess Lakshmi inside your home.  Every room in the house is kept lighted, so that every corner of the house is blessed by Her.

Living abroad should not impede your efforts to follow this auspicious custom.  Diwali is an auspicious time to do Lakshmi Puja.  Doing Lakshmi Puja is simple, and can be done by anyone in their home. Here is how I perform Lakshmi Puja living in California.

1. I start by tidying up my home

The first step I do is thoroughly clean my home, throw away or donate anything I do not need anymore or haven’t worn in a long time.  It helps me think that I have made space for new things, people, adventures, ideas, grace etc to flow into my life. It is also the Hindu New Year, and this helps me start the new year with a fresh start.

I am a vegetarian who consumes eggs occasionally, but during Lakshmi Puja, I won’t even keep them in my fridge, as these and anything non-vegetarian are considered unclean (for obvious reasons).  In India, people sprinkle holy ganga water around their homes purifying the space.  If you don’t have that, you can also burn some incense to purity your space.  (Local Indian grocery stores also sell bottles of ganga water, so you can purchase it if this is very important for you).

2. Next, I setup my alter

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Next, I create a platform for my Diwali alter.  I have a decorated metal alter, but you can make one by covering any small table with a red or bright-colored cloth, and decorate with flowers and diyas (clay lamps).

I place a copper water vessel (Kalash) three-quarters filled with water next to the alter.  If you don’t have one, any metal cup or vessel will do.  I recommend using a new one that you have never drank from or used before.

I also have incense sticks and a small bell on the alter.  I make sure all five elements (air, water, earth, fire and ether) are represented on my alter.  Flowers represent earth, the bell represents air (as sound travels in air), and the incense sticks represent ether (as smoke travels in space).  I also use ghee in the oil lamps (diya) that I place on the alter.

shutterstock_690806332.jpgIn a steel thali (metal plate), I add kumkum (red powder), haldi (tumeric), uncooked rice grains, and flowers. I will place the ghee lamp and incense on the thali.  If you can find marigold flowers, great! Otherwise, any other flowers will do. This is the “Aarti Thali” (covered in step 4).

 

3. I place my Lakshmi and Ganesh idolsshutterstock_463384349.jpg on the alter

Next, place the idol or picture-frame of Lakshmi in the center of the alter, and next to it,  place a Ganesh idol or picture.  Placing Ganesh is important as He is the obstacle-remover, and no puja ceremony can be initiated without His blessings.

Before placing the idols, I sprinkle some ganga water and gently wipe them with a soft cloth. In front of the idols, I place my collection of silver coins. If you don’t have these, you can place ordinary coins as well. Place a platter of fruits, nuts and sweets in front of the alter.  If you don’t have access to traditional diwali sweets, chocolates will do as well. I also have another metal plate with 4-5 lighted diyas. These are used to place one each in each room of my home (including kitchen, balcony, patio, outside main door entrance etc, except the bathrooms).

4. Start the Aarti

Aarti is the act of singing praises and worshiping the God / Goddess.  It is done by holding the Aarti Thali in your right hand with the lighted lamp and circling it clockwise slowly in front of the alter continuously.  You can take turns doing this with the people attending the aarti.

TIPS:
(a) Play it on Youtube and chant along.
(b) Print copies of the Aarti text (written below) and have one for each attendee.
Here is the Lakshmi Aarti text.
Om Jai lakshmi maataa|

Maiyaa jaya lakshmi maataa |
Tumako nishadin sevat|
Maiyaa ji ko nisdin sevat |
Hara vishnu dhaataa|
Om Jai lakshmi maataa|

Uma, Rama Brahmaanii |
Tumhii jaga maataa |
Maiyaa Tumhii jaga maataa |
Surya chandramaa dhyaavata| X 2
Naarada rishi gaataa |
Om Jai lakshmi maataa|

Durgaa ruupa niranjani |
Sukha sampati daataa |
Maiyaa Sukha sampati daataa |
Jo koi tumako dhyaavata | X 2
Riddhi siddhi dhana paataa |
Om Jai lakshmi maataa|

Tum paataala nivaasani |
Tum hee shubha daataa |
Maiyaa tum hee shubha daataa |
Karma prabhaava prakaashini | X 2
Bhava Nidhi ki traataa |
Om Jai lakshmi maataa|

Jisa ghara tuma rahatii taha|
Saba sadaguna aataa |
Maiyaa saba sadaguna aataa |
Sab sambhava ho jataa| X 2
Mana nahin ghabaraataa |
Om Jai lakshmi maataa|

Tuma bina yagya na hote|
Vastra na koii paataa |
Maiyaa vastra na koii paataa |
Khaana paana kaa vaibhava | X 2
Saba tumase se aataa |
Om Jai lakshmi maataa|

Shubha guna mandira sundara |
Ksheerodadhi jaataa |
Maiyaa ksheerodadhi jaataa |
Ratana chaturdasha tuma bin | X 2
Koi nahin paataa |
Om Jai lakshmi maataa|

Mahalakshmi ji ki aarti |
Jo koi nara gaataa |
Maiyaa jo koi nara gaataa |
Ura ananda samaata | X 2
Paapa utara jaataa |
Om Jai lakshmi maataa|

Om Jai lakshmi maataa|
Maiyaa jaya lakshmi maataa |
Tumako nishadin sevat|
Maiyaa ji ko nisdin sevat |
Hara vishnu dhaataa|
Om Jai lakshmi maataa|

5. After the Aarti

shutterstock_691765342 flipped.jpgOnce the Aarti is done, offer flowers and sprinkle the holy water from the kalash on the alter, and then around the house.

Apply kumkum, haldi and rice (wet them with a little water) on the foreheads of the idol or picture. Next, apply same to all who are attending the Puja.

Give everyone a coin, sweets and some fruits as prasad.

Take some rice and flowers and sit quietly in front of the alter.  Join your hands together and close your eyes. Recite the Diwali puja mantra of goddess Lakshmi or just chant her name and meditate for few minutes to invoke her.

Om Hring kling MahaLakshmyai Namah ||

6. Final Step

shutterstock_1196233108.jpgTake the diyas and place them around the house. Also sprinkle water from the kalash around the house.  This symbolizes spreading of Goddess Lakshmi’s blessing around your home.

Celebrating Diwali is so much fun, and while you may not get to light up firecrackers and be with your relatives, you can still celebrate the essence of Diwali with faith and love.

May Goddess Lakshmi bless you this Diwali!

 

 


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