Mahalakshmi Vrat begins on Shukla Ashtami in Bhadrapada month, which occurs after four days of Ganesha Chaturthi. This Vrat ends after sixteen days on Krishna Ashtami in Ashwin month, as per Purnimanta calendar of North India. The total number of fasting days might reduce to fifteen days or increase to seventeen days, depending on leaped and skipped Tithi during fasting period. The fasting is done to please and seek blessing of Goddess Mahalakshmi, the Goddess of wealth and prosperity.
Bhadrapada Shukla Ashtami is also observed as birth anniversary of Goddess Radha and is popularly known as Radha Ashtami. The starting day of Mahalakshmi Vrat is highly significant as it coincides with Durva Ashtami Vrat when Durva grass is worshipped. This day is also observed as Jyeshta Devi Puja, which is observed for three consecutive days.
Importance of Mahalakshmi Vrat:
Mahalakshmi Vrat is an important fasting day observed by Hindus. The glory of this religious vrat was explained by Lord Sri Krishna to King Yudhisthira, the eldest of the Pandav brothers. The greatness of Mahalakshmi Vrat is also stated in religious scriptures like ‘Bhavishya Purana’. Mahalakshmi Vrat is celebrated in honour of Goddess Lakshmi, who is the consort of Lord Vishnu and also considered to be a form of Maa Shakti. The holy vrat starts from the Bhadrapada Shukla Ashtami that is also celebrated as Radha Ashtami, the birthday of Goddess Radha (the companion of Lord Krishna). This day is also significant as it corresponds with Durva Ashtami vrat in which Durva grass is worshipped. Moreover the same day is also celebrated as ‘Jyeshta Devi Puja’ and continues till three days. The observer of Mahalakshmi Vrat is bestowed with blessings of Goddess Lakshmi all his/her life.
Mahalakshmi Vrat / Vratham Procedure:
Take a pot (kalas/kalasam), fill it with fresh water and decorate with betel leaves. Place a coconut on its top.
Adorn the pot (kalas/kalasam) with a red cloth and tie a red thread around it. Draw four lines, which denote the Chatur Vedas, with kumkum on the pot. A Swastik (an ancient cosmic or religious symbol) is drawn on the pot. This pot with all the decorations is referred as Kalash or Purna Kumbh and it represents the Universal power (Supreme deity).
Akshata (uncooked rice which is mixed with turmeric) is set aside and a few coins are placed in the water in Kalash. This Kalash is worshipped as Goddess Mahalaxmi Devi.
Now, as like the usual poojas, lamps are lit and the Lakshmi Gayatri, Lakshmi Ashtottara Satanamavali (108 names of Mahalakshmi), Ashtalaksmi Stotra, Lakshmi Sahasranama Stotra, and Mahalakshmi Ashtakam, are recited during Mahalakshmi Vrata Puja.