On the first day of this three day Maharastrian festival, Mahalakshmi in the form of two sisters (Goddess Jyeshtha and Kanishtha Gauri) and their children, are welcomed into the home. Being the Lakshmi of the family (eldest daughter-in-law, bahurani) it was me who carried them in, this was really nervewracking as they were heavy, and the only thing I could think was, ‘for goodness sake, don’t drop them!’.
I carried the faces (mukhotas) into every room of the house to invoke the Goddesses presence into the home, except for the bathrooms, she didn’t really fancy going there. The Goddesses and their children stood on the carpet I brought back from Morocco, dressed in two of my mother-in-laws most expensive sarees, and all the jewelry I own. But, like Indian women everywhere, less is not more, more is more, so the also wore every piece of jewelry everyone else owned too. Plus the bangles we bought for her especially.
Once the sisters and their children were beautifully dressed, we wound string around their bodies for protection, and poured grain around them to create their own sacred space, described to me as their house. This grain house had a small doorway which I also poured grain over, oops, I quickly removed the grain apologetically, no one likes being locked in their house. I managed to get locked in my house once, it wasn’t pleasant, I kept thinking something would spontaneously combust and I wouldn’t be able to escape.
I then made a complete mess of the symbolic footsteps, showing Mahalakshmi entering. After making the disastrous rangoli foots steps, which made it look like a mutant bird was walking into the house instead of the divine, grandma produced a nice foot step stencil. Oh darn, I’ll use that next year.
Please don’t laugh…
Once they were all dressed and settled in, we decorated them with flowers, lights and little lamps. I made sure there were some of my favourite, orange marigolds. They were now ready for the second day of the festival, where my husband and I invoked the spirit of Mahalakshmi into the idols.