The morning after establishing Mahalakshmi and her children in our home, the panditji (priest) came to lead the ceremony to invoke the spirit of the Goddess into the idols. My husband and I performed the pooja (prayer) wearing the same outfits we wore for our wedding ceremony, with the house full of family, friends, food and flowers.
Just as we did for Lord Ganesh, we invoked Goddess Mahalakshmi with mantras, sacred leaves and flowers. We touched their hearts and with our own breathe, blew life into the beautiful idols.
Meanwhile, during this long pooja, forty-eight dishes (yes, forty-eight!!!) were being prepared by the other women of the house, There will be a point when I have to learn to cook these dishes to carry on the tradition, I should start taking notes next year!
The mountain of food was placed before the Goddesses and their children, this made the food prasad, prasad is food which is blessed. It wasn’t long before guests arrived to eat a blessed lunch and take the darshan (seeing the auspicious image of God) of Mahalakshmi.
Visiting Lakshmi’s from other families (eldest daughter-in-laws) were celebrated and given gifts. As the Lakshmi of our family, I performed the special gift giving ceremony which involves applying haldi (tumeric) and kum kum (sindoor) to their foreheads followed by pouring four hand fulls of rice and a coconut into their laps. Some brought gifts to give to the Mahalakshmi and performed the same ceremony infront of the idols.
The next day, sadly Mahalakshmi had to go home, with another pooja her spirit departed. I put my right hand to each of their chests and held my heart with my left hand as Grandma chanted Sanskrit mantras. She was gone, with a heavy heart, the idols were dismantled and put into the wardrobe where they would wait until next year.
Grandma separated yellow strings which had been placed with Mahalakshmi during the pooja. They were tied around our wrists (on the left hand of women and right hand of men). The sofa which had been sitting on our terrace to make room for Mahalaksmi, had to be put back and the house looked and felt normal again.