Sravan is an auspicious Hindu month that normally falls in August. The month is full of festivals and celebrations. The four (or five) Tuesdays and Fridays of Sravana Masam are very special/important. Lakshmi Devi is worshiped on Fridays of the month. The second Friday of the month which falls before Sravana Purnima (Pournami) day is highly sacred and married women perform Varalakshmi Vratam on this day.
Newly married brides/women worship Mangala Gowri Devi (one of the forms of Parvati Devi) on 4 (or 5)Tuesdays of Sravanam Masam for five continuous years for the welfare of their spouse. Due to some unforeseen reasons, if they cannot perform puja on one Tuesday, they can continue performing the puja on the subsequent Tuesdays. Similarly, if you cannot do the vratam in a year, you can continue it in the next year.
After successful completion of 5 years, you have to do Udyapana. Now let’s go through the Mangala Gowri Vrata Vidhanam.
Mangala Gowri Vrata Puja Items:
- Turmeric, Kumkuma and Chandan Powder
- Traditional whole Bengal gram, Betel leaves, Betel nuts for Vayanam.
- Fresh flowers and fruits as per Availability.
- Rice flour and Jaggery or sugar for making Deepams, wicks for lighting the lamp.
- Cow’s ghee, Honey, Sugar, cow’s milk and yogurt (curd made of cow’s milk) and cow’s milk for Panchamrutam.
- Red or Green or Yellow blouse piece
- White/Yellow thread for making Thoram
- Camphor, Agarbatti, yellow rice/Akshantalu), Harati plate, bell and other puja items.
- Knife for making kajal.
How to make Gowri Devi:
Making and decorating Gowri Devi depends on one’s family custom and is purely a personal matter which depends on one’s taste and affordability. You can either decorate and place a silver or copper Kalasam on the mandapam or just keep a photo of Gowri Devi.
Then make a small Gowri Devi with turmeric paste, keep it on a betel leaf and place it in the mandapam/puja mandir in front of the Kalasam/photo. Decorate the Pasupu Ammavaru with Gandham, kumkuma and flowers. Note that the pasupu Ammavaru should be preserved and the same should be worshiped on all 4 or 5 Tuesdays. After completion of 4 or 5 Tuesdays, take the Pasupu Ammavaru and smear it to your ‘Mangala Sutralu’ and face only, if not place it in the ‘Tulasi Kota’ if you have one.
How to make ‘Thoram’?
Take 5 or 9 strands (depending on one’s family custom) of yellow/white / Chandan color sewing thread, twist it to make a single strand and smear turmeric paste to it. Put knots at 5 places (if you take 5 strands) or 9 places (for 9 strands). If you want you can place fresh Chamanti or Gulabi Flower while tying the knots. However, that’s not compulsory.
How to make rice flour Jyotulu?
Take 5 measures of rice flour in a clean bowl and add grated jaggery to it. You can add Elaichi powder for Flavour as you and your family members have to eat the jyotulu. Keep mixing little by little cow’s ghee and keep kneading it into a dough. Do not pour too much ghee. Make sure that the dough is hard. Now make 5 balls out of the dough. Take one ball in your palm and press in the middle with your thumb to make a hollow. Likewise, make 5 deepams and place these in a new/unused steel/brass plate. Fill the deepams with cow’s ghee, place wicks and keep them handy near the puja mandapam.
Note that these 5 deepams should be lit after the puja and before you start reading ‘Vrata kadha’. While reading the ‘kadha’ the knife / atlakada on which Chandan paste is smeared should be held over the flames of the deepam so that the Chandan paste gets charred and turns into ‘katuka’.
How to make Panchamrutam?
Take equal measures of cow milk (unboiled), cow ghee, curd made of cow milk, honey and sugar in a silver / unused steel tumbler and mix it well. Keep it near the puja mandir.
Step-by-step procedure for performing puja:
Preparation for the vratam is very tedious and time-consuming. It is better to complete the arrangement the previous night and keep the list of puja items near the puja mandapam or the place where you perform the puja.
- Clean up the area near the mandapam, mop and then draw rangoli.
- Decorate the puja room as per your interest/likes. However, performing puja with devotion is more important than decoration.
- Get up early in the morning on the day of vratam and go for a hair wash after refreshing yourself with a steaming hot cup of coffee.
- Drape pattu sari in a traditional way as per your family custom.
- Apply turmeric paste on your feet (kaallaku pasupu rasukovali).
- Make five Varipindi Jyotulu and place these on an unused/new silver dish/steel plate. You can keep this plate separately and use it for 5 years.
- Make 5 or 9 thorams and these are ready near pooja mandapam.
- Keep all the other purchased items given in the above list handy near the puja mandapam.
- Make two vastrams (cloth) by spreading/pressing a small cotton ball. Smear turmeric paste, Chandan paste and kumkuma. Keep these handy near the mandapam.
- Make Panchaamrutam and keep it handy.
- Keep a tumbler of water, a spoon and a plate (panchapatra and udharini) for Sankalpa.
- Prepare naivedyam as per your family custom.
- Make small Ganapati with turmeric paste (pasupu Ganapati), place it on a betel leaf, apply kumkuma to it and keep it in the pooja mandir.
- Make small Gowri Ammavaaru with turmeric paste (Pasupu Gowri Devi). Place it on an Indian betel leaf, apply kumkuma and keep it in an appropriate place in the puja mandapam.
- Apply Chandanapaste at the tip of the knife/atlakada and keep it aside for preparing Katuka (kajal).
- After the preparations are over, make sure that you have kept the pooja samagri near you and then sit on the pooja mat in front of the mandapam, preferably facing East or North.
- Decorate the idols with colorful flowers and light up the oil lamps i.e. deeparadhana (not the pindi jyotulu) and agarbatti.
- Do pranayam followed by sankalpam and start doing the pooja.
- On completion of the pooja, offer naivedyam, thoram, a blouse piece and senagala vaayanam along with taambulam to Gowri Ammavaaru. For tambulam, take 3 betel leaves and place two bananas and a nut powder packet / vakka.
- Tie one thoram to the knife, light up rice flour jyothulu and start reading Sraavana Mangala Gowri Katha / story.
- While reading the story hold the Chandan smeared part of knife over the flames of jyothulu so that the Chandan gets charred and forms thick katuka / kajal on the knife.
- After you finish reading the story, tie one thoram to your right wrist.
- Now without taking food (if it is customary in your family) give senagala vaayanam which includes soaked whole Bengal gram, two betel leaves, two or three fruits, a flower, betel nut, toram and one white rice powder Jyothi to 5 married ladies as per your family custom.
- In some regions of Andhra Pradesh, in the 1st year vayanam is given to 5 married women. In the 2nd year to 10 married women, the number increases in multiples of 5 and in the 5th year to 25 married women.
- If you couldn’t find the required number of married women near you, you can give the whole lot as butta vaayanam to one married lady only.
- If you don’t find married women of your community in your location (abroad), you can give the vayanam to the goddess in the nearby Hindu temple.
After completion of four / five Tuesdays, the turmeric idols of Ganapati and Ammavaaru should be made into a paste and applied on the face and mangal sutra or else these can be immersed in a nearby water source. This should not be applied on feet.
After the completion of 5 years of performing the nomu, you have to udyapana.