Friday, August 24, 2007
Today married women in most parts of South India will pray to Lakshmi in her 8 forms- aasthalakshmi for various attributes.
"The 8 forms of Lakshmi are: Vidya Lakshmi (Saraswati, Goddess of Education), Dhana Lakshmi (Lakshmi, Goddess of Money), Dhanya Lakshmi (Goddess of Food), Santhana Lakshmi (Goddess for family, who bless our family with kids), Gaja Lakshmi (Goddess of Strength), Vijaya Lakshmi (Goddess of Victory), Bhagya Lakshmi (Goddess of Prosperity), Dhairya Lakshmi (Goddess of Courage)."(source)
"Women pray for: "dhan" (money), "dhanyam" (grains or food), "arogyam" (health), "sampath" (property), "sathsanthanam" (virtuous offspring) and "dheerga saumangalyam" (longevity of the husband)." (source)
I could use this space to talk about the stories related to this day, how to do the puja, or any of those details available on other sites (I have linked up above), but since that is readily available, I wanted to take a different spin on this topic.
While researching this puja, I found a forum where people were discussing the superstitious aspect of this holiday and if doing this puja creates a ‘placebo effect’, or placates you and takes away your guilt or increases your superstition for something (ie. Having children, making sure your husband treats you good, etc.).
I believe whatever attitude you enter with in any activity is the benefit you get out. If a woman were to enter this puja out of fear or lack, that may be what occurs later. What if a woman enters this prayer with a pure heart and wishes the best to occur? Some may also believe that these types of pujas are old fashioned and take women back to before women were liberated. You know what, I tend not to believe that. Any prayer not only would benefit who you are praying for, but since everyone is connected, it would also benefit the person giving the prayers. On the outside, the women are praying for the health and well-being of their husbands and families, a good thing to pray for, without doubt, but with the husbands and families happy and doing well, doesn’t that benefit the wife also? I am not saying then the puja transforms from self-less (praying only for others) to selfish, but since we are all connected, there is no doubt in my mind residual benefits of the prayer would trickle down to others in close contact with the husbands and families.
What do you think? Have you participated in this puja? Do you have photos of the decorations (especially the coconut) to share? What is something you believed changed in your life after doing this puja? What is your opinion about why this puja continues in present day?
Updated July 2009
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Copyright ©2007 Jennifer Jayanthi Kumar