“Esho Maa Lokkhi bosho ghore, amaar e ghore thako alo kore” – this line epitomizes Lakshmi Puja that is celebrated in West Bengal soon after Durga Puja on a full moon night. It is popularly known as Kojagori Lakshmi Puja. Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped as the Goddess of prosperity and wealth – harbinger of good luck and fortune. This Puja is performed in almost all homes of West Bengal with great reverence and piety. Goddess Lakshmi is depicted as sitting or standing on a lotus flower and has lotus in her hands too.
Clay idols of Goddess Lakshmi are worshipped in pandals but homes usually have a framed photograph that is worshipped.
The Puja is performed at night but the the preparations begin early. Like all festivals, customs and rituals are many. Alpona or rangoli forms an important part of Lakshmi Puja. Traditionally rice paste is used to create intricate design on the floor in and around the house. Along with the design is drawn Goddess Lakshmi’s feet – pairs of them are drawn to symbolize the entry of the Goddess into homes, and people pray with fervor that She never leaves.
Reciting or reading the Lokkhi'r panchali (Lakshmi katha) is a must during the Puja.
The Bhog and Anjali
The items offered to the Goddess vary. Apart from fruits and sweets, most homes prepare bhog which usually consists of Khichuri, five kinds of bhaja or fried vegetables, labara (mixed vegetables), pushpanno (pulao), chatni, payesh (kheer). Luchi and suji are add ons that some homes prepare. Some families have the tradition of offering fish to Goddess Lakshmi as it is considered to be a good omen.
Homemade traditional sweets are a must on the offering list. Coconut and til (sesame) naru (small laddus), tokti, moa are made and offered to the Goddess along with naivedya.
Floral offering to the Goddess or anjali is a part of the ritual. Many women fast daylong for this Puja. Normally dhak or any other loud instruments are not played during this Puja.
Distribution of bhog or ‘Prasad bitoron’ is done with equal enthusiasm. People pray that their homes have enough always to keep everyone happy. Many still follow the tradition of staying awake the entire night to welcome the Goddess when she steps in. Spotting a white owl is considered to be a lucky omen as owl is the Vahan (vehicle/carrier) of Goddess Lakshmi.
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