Mahalakshmi Festival Begins…

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!’.

mahalaxmi mahalakshmi festival faces

Don’t drop them!

mahalaxmi mahalakshmi festival marathi

Welcoming the Goddesses and their children into our home

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.

dressing mahalaxmi festival mahalakshi marathi

necklace on mahalakshmi white and red saree silk

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.

string around mahalaksmi

String for protection

mahalaksmi

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…

mahalaksmi

“footsteps”

foot steps rangoliOnce 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. 

orange marigolds rose orange marigolds

mahalakshmi ready

festival selfie

My favourite saree, a gift from my husband

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33 thoughts on “Mahalakshmi Festival Begins…

  1. you look so beautiful and loved that nose pin and saree.. It was my first Mahalakshmi Pooja too. However I didn’t fasted as my first fast can be Karwachauth only . We also performed small pooja. We have different customs we have yellow threads which we tie on hand and then open that on 8th sharad. I am also learning new customs at my in-laws place

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  2. One simple idea for foorsteps. Mix kumkum and water. Make a fist and dip your hand in it(thumb on top-dip the other side) and make the prints fingers you can draw with your hands.
    I hear some house also see the Gauri finger marks. After the D-day that Gauri have a feast women fill the Haldi-kumkum to the brim(plain) and put it there overnight in front of them. All say that there are finger marks in there. They apply it to each other or themselves it seems.

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  3. You look so beautiful in a saree Lauren.
    I hope you enjoyed the new experience.. How is your language learning going on By the way… Just Curious.. I’d be happy to help if need be… just lemme know…

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    • Thank you so much, Kalyani!!!
      It’s not going so well, it’s easy to get complacent when my husband speaks fluent English and my mother-in-law has revealed she knows more English than I first thought! hehe xxx

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    • Yes, I really laughed at the ‘mutant bird feet’ as well. And I love that final picture of you, Lauren. You look beautiful in all your Indian finery.
      A really enjoyable post to read, with gorgeous photographs full of sumptuousness. Thanks for sharing all this with us. xx

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      • One thing that puzzles me. The idols are dressed in your grandmother’s sarees? How do you mean? They can’t be wearing your grandmother’s actual clothes because of the size difference.

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      • Wow! That’s incredible, so skillful. Is that a tradition that other people also follow (using an actual saree)? I’d imagined that the idols would have miniature versions, a bit like doll’s clothes.

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      • I think that some people do buy cut offs from sarees to do it, but I am guessing that many people try to use their own sarees, not only because they should be of best quality but also, they will be blessed afterwards!!

        My GIL was a little upset that it wasn’t my sarees on them because that is the tradition, but I don’t have many and had to wear them myself, whereas my MIL has thousands. Most of the sarees I wear for social functions are my mother-in-law’s as the sarees I do own are costly ones I bought for my weddings and should only be worn for festivals. Even though she indicates I should lose weight, we are the same size for blouses. She was surprised haha

        Lauren xxx

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  4. It is typical Marathi Laxmipuja. In other states it’s different. In my state Odisha on Margashir month( in December) on Thursday mahalaxmi puja is avery auspecios occasion for all the bahus i.e. married women esp. for daughters-in-law of family. From very early in the morning around 4 o’clock in the morning they get up take bath, wear sacred cloths, keep fasting all day and because it’s just after harvest , with new paddy they fill a pot and in the puja room they make offering and puja to goddess Laxmi. 5 times and types of offerings are made. They are our local delicacies. Rangoli is also made but of rice powder, and rice paste. It’s a great day for every Oriya bahu. Funny we dont have Karwachauth. But we have a Sabitri brat which every married woman observes by fasting for long life of her husband. It’s similar in purpose but different in rituals.

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    • Hi. Nicola. Cant say about high society people. But all my married friends observe the festivals with rituals. No compulsion. Because I personally know it. I am a working woman(single). But my female colleagues amidst heavy work pressure also anyhow observe them. It’s all a matter of devotion, love care for the near and dear and belief system of centuries you see. Why I say ‘no compulsion’ bcoz they are here staying far away from their in-laws in their place of job. Still they do it. Btw I believe average Indian women are homely. That’s why. Even those who have very modern exteriors have some traditional housewife material inbuilt in them.:)

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  5. Hi again,
    Another question, if I may. To anyone Indian as well as to Lauren, if that’s okay, Lauren? I’m getting the impression that the younger generations in India are observing these traditions just as much as the older generations. I realise that there will be family pressure and expectation to participate, but I’m curious to know whether younger Indians perform the rituals in order to maintain the culture, or whether they maintain the same belief in the significance of these rituals.
    I know it’s not really comparable, perhaps, but in the UK most people no longer believe in the significance behind the religious rituals of the Christian calendar, and very few observe them. For the vast majority of the population, Christmas is about decorating a Christmas tree, exchanging presents, partying etc., rather than a celebration of the birth of Christ. Similarly, ask most British people what Easter is all about, and they will be able to say people eat chocolate eggs, but if you ask them what the religious significance of this is, many would be hard-pushed to give you an answer (the eggs are supposed to symbolise rebirth, as Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ).
    Part of the ignorance about the religious meaning behind Christian festivals is due to the fact that Christian festivals were superimposed onto dates when festivals already existed on the pagan calendar, and certain practices, such as decorating a tree, were pagan practices, which have survived. For pagans, decorating a tree was an offering to the pagan gods, because pagans believed that the next springtime might never arrive, unless they appeased the pagan gods (or something like that!), so, really, a Christmas Tree has nothing to do with Christmas!
    As fewer people in the UK believe in the existence of deities, and scientific discovery has relegated many religious beliefs to the status of ‘superstition’, most British people will say that what matters is whether you are a good person, not whether you attend a church service on a Sunday or say grace before a meal.
    I can’t imagine that the religious festivals in India (particularly the ones that are celebrated in the home) would be maintained with the same fervour, if younger generations didn’t genuinely believe that they were invoking the spirit of a god or goddess into an idol etc.. If they are just going through the motions, I can imagine that they would not regard it as so important to maintain these traditions. How do the younger generations in India regard these festivals? Is it more about keeping traditions alive, or is the celebration of these festivals just as sacred to them as it is to their parents and grandparents?

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    • Dear Nicola,

      Rupal and Snigdha have both replied to your question but I don’t think they have placed the comment in the ‘reply’ box. This commenting layout is confusing sometimes.

      From my experience, I think many women do still enjoy the festivals and practice whole heatedly. I think that many do not know the reasons behind the traditions as they have just grown up doing it and the significance has been lost.

      I try to ask where possible the reason behind everything. I have asked my MIL several times and she has said ‘I don’t know, tradition?’ or ‘because Grandma says so’. Grandma does know every significance so I try and ask her every time. My husband is very knowledgeable about these things, except for the ladies only festivals like Hartalika. He did traditional Brahmin studies so knows how to read and speak Sanskrit as well as millions of tales about Hindu Gods and Goddesses.

      I don’t like doing things just for the sake of it, like to know the background!! xxx

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    • In India many youth are practicing the festivals and traditions. Many are trying to find out the truth behind the traditions.

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  6. To be honest younger generations Indian do not celebrate like these elaborate manner. They are far too busy with work or their personal life. If you kind of live with a massive joint family then yes you are well under pressure to perform this huge fuss with hundreds festivals celebrated in India.
    Well done Lauren, you have really adapted to this typical Marathi lifestyle. Bet you miss home though at some point.

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  7. Pingback: Mahalakshmi Pooja - English Wife, Indian Life

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