Lakshmi Puja marks the main day of Deepavali. Though this day is a no moon day, known as Amavasya, which is usually considered unlucky according to the Hindu religion, but this day is an absolute exception to that rule and is considered very auspicious. It is believed that among the chants, hymns and resounding of temple bells, the golden-footed Goddess of wealth and prosperity, Lakshmi, descents on earth from heaven. She walks the fields and bye lanes and bestows the boon of wellbeing and abundance on her devotees, rich or poor alike.
Another belief regarding the Goddess is that she is very fond of cleanliness. Thus, before the festivities of Diwali begin, people go to great lengths to make their houses immaculate so that the Goddess visits their home. Besides this, people also light millions of diyas across villages, towns and cities, so that they can illuminate the path of the Goddess. Apart from Lakshmi Puja, the day also sees much revelry, which includes bursting of firecrackers, distribution of sweets and organizing family get-togethers. On this day, many delectable sweets and other traditional dishes are prepared at home. Many people, today, are not aware of the simple yet proper way of worshipping Goddess Lakshmi. The following lines elucidate the process of performing the auspicious Lakshmi Puja. Read on.
First and foremost, one must purify and clean the place where the puja is to be performed. Thereafter, an elevated platform like a wooden stool, covered with new cloth should be placed, which will serve as a makeshift temple for the idols of the deities. The next step is to place a gold, silver, copper, or terracotta pitcher on the stool with grains spread at its base. Now, fill the pot three-fourth with water, along with a betel nut, a flower, a coin, and some rice. Then, string mango leaves around the pitcher and cover it with a plate filled with uncooked rice. Using turmeric, draw a lotus on the plate and place the idol of Goddess Lakshmi over it, along with some coins.
Once the idol of the Goddess is placed, the Puja begins and is attended by all in the family. However, in most Indian households, worshipping Lord Ganesha, along with the Goddess, on this day is considered very auspicious. Therefore, his idol is placed in front of the pitcher, on the right. Many people also place ink, balance sheets and account books on the platform in front of Ganesha, since he is believed to be the bestower of wisdom and knowledge. Once the idols are established, a diya or lamp is lit in presence of the entire family. Then haldi, kumkum, and flowers are offered to the deities. People recite Vedic chants dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi in order to invoke her blessings. In case one doesn't remember these chants, one can close his eyes and remember the goddess with heartfelt devotion. Many people offer some gold or a pearl ornament to the Goddess on this day as a token of their gratefulness.
Those who want to perform an elaborate puja can gather and offer various puja items to appease the Goddess, such as sandal paste, saffron paste, itr (perfume), haldi, kumkum, abeer, and gulal along with a garland of cotton beads. In the flowers, marigold and leaves of wood apple are believed to be the offerings loved by the Goddess. Along with diyas, lighting of incense sticks and dhoop is quite common. Many people invite Brahmins and Pundits to perform extensive havan at their premises or workplace to please Goddess Lakshmi. No matter how elaborate or simply the puja of Goddess Lakshmi is done, it culminates with her aarti.