Nagpur: “Mahalaxmi aali gharat sonyachya payani, bhar bharat gheun aali, sarva samrudhhi gheun aali” chants reverberated in many a residence in the city as the 3-day Mahalaxmi Puja commenced with all religious aura and divine ambience. Mahalaxmi Puja is celebrated from generations to generations. Any change in idols is effected only when a marriage is performed in the family or birth of a child. The place in the households where Mahalaxmi Puja is performed is being artistically and elegantly decorated befitting the divine atmosphere. During the 3-day puja, the idols of Mahalaxmi and Her Family are attired in a special and authentic tradition.
Amid the 10-day Ganesh Festival, the three days of Mahalaxmi puja are the most looked forward to, at least in Maharashtra. The festival has a bigger social dimension than a religious one and thus it is not restricted to any particular caste. Dozens of households in the city welcomed Jyeshtha Gauri and Goddess Kanishta along with their children as one would welcome a daughter on a visit to her “Maheri” or “Maika” (mother’s home). The cherishing moments during the 3-day Mahalaxmi Puja are to be seen are to be experienced. On the first day, Mahalaxmi and Her Family is welcomed traditionally and religiously. The ‘Mahaprasad’ served on second day of the Mahalaxmi Puja is on a grand scale. The elaborate ‘prasad’ having a number of mouthwatering dishes with main Prasad being a vegetable prepared with mix of 16 different vegetables, ‘Ambil’ made of jowar flour and puran poli could be served to 100 or more people comprising families, friends and neighbours. The third day would mark “Haldi Kumkum,” a gathering of womenfolk from across the society and immersion (farewell) of the idols.
The mythological importance associated with this festival is that devotees believe arrival of goddesses in pairs like Jyeshta-Kanishtha, Gauri-Laxmi, Sakhi-Parvati bring prosperity and well-being to the mankind. Certain intellectuals believe Mahalaxmi is the festival of welcoming harvest. India being an agriculture country, the farmers reap their first crop in the month of Bhadrapada. Now-a-days all fruits, vegetables and grains are available throughout the year but in the past the farm products were seasonal. The housewives of these farmers prepare sweets, some eatables from new farm products and express their joy for the first crop.
However, several grandeur traditions of Mahalaxmi Puja have become history due to urbanisation and industralisation. On the day of Gauri Pujan, all Maharashtrian womenfolk used to stay awake the whole night and play traditional games like Zhimma and Phugdi. The whole night was used to be full of fun and joy and singing for the women.