Friday, August 12, 2011

Varalakshmi Nonbu/ Vratam

Varalakshmi Vratam is an important pooja performed by many women in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka and some parts of Tamil Nadu.The Hindu festival going by the name 'Vara Lakshmi Vrata' is celebrated on the last Friday of the bright fortnight in the month of Ashadha, also called Adi, which corresponds to the English months of July-August.


Eight forces or energies are recognised and they are known as Sri (Wealth), Bhu (Earth), Sarasvati (learning), Priti (love), Kirti (Fame), Santi (Peace), Tushti(Pleasure) and Pushti(Strength). Each one of these forces is called a Lakshmi and all the eight forces are called the Ashta Lakshmis or the eight Lakshmis of the Hindus. Vishnu is also called Ashta Lakshmi Padhi which is equivalent to saying that he is the asylum for the eight-Lakshmis or forces. In fact, Vishnu representing the preservative aspect of the universe, radiates these forces from him. These forces are personified and worshipped as Lakshmis, since abstract force is beyond the comprehension of the ordinary people. As health, wealth and prosperity depend upon the rythmic play of these forces, the worship of Lakshmi is said to be to obtain these three. Only a woman can sympathise with women. Lakshmi is a woman. So she will more readily sympathise with women. Hence this festival is observed largely by women, invoking the blessings of Lakshmi on them, their husbands and their children.


As the legend goes, this is a pooja that was pronounced by no other than Lord Parameswara to be performed by his consort Parvathi to seek prosperity and happiness for the family. Thus it came to be emulated by married women who sought boons (varam) for the health, wealth and knowledge for the entire family. In some cases, women prayed for being blessed with children. The prescribed day for the pooja is the Friday of the month of Sravan in the fortnight known as Sukla paksha, preceding the full moon day.

Our maid Mary drawing the Rangoli,

This pooja can be done with no restriction to caste or creed. To this day, the faithful of modern times observe this tradition.

Similar pooja is done by South Indian Iyengars, called Karadaiyan nonbu/ Vrat sometime during the month of March. I am writing about Karadaiyan Nonbu for we are Iyengars.

Karadaiyan Nonbu is observed in remembrance of the Satyvan – Savitri legend. A princess, Savitri through her unparalleled devotion saved her husband, Satyvan, from the clutches of death. This legend is very popular in India and there are several other observances based on this legend like the Vrat Savitri Puja.

 Savitri Nonbu Vritham is observed at the exact time when Masi month ends and the Panguni begins

On the Vratam day married women fast and break the fast by eating the Karadai preparation with butter. The preparation is known as Karadai nombu adai - the festival takes its name from the unique Kara Adai dish. It is believed that Savitri cooked such a dish and offered it to Lord Yama along with unmelted butter as a sort of thanksgiving for sparing her husband’s life.

Another important ritual is the wearing of the Kaaradai nombu saradu, which is a yellow thread, around the neck.

"Uruqadha Vennayam oru adayam vaithu nonbu notren oru nallum en kanavar piriyamal iruka vendum" Meaning I partake this prasad and tie the yellow thread, around my neck with the wish that I am never separated from my husband even for a day. Even young girls should wear this thread on that day to get the blessings of God.

Picture credit for this is
 I must mention, that we end up celebrating the various festivals because of my maid Mary. She is a Christian, married to a Hindu. She is a wonderful person who follows the festivals of both religions with great devotion and enthusiasm. She has lived in the Convent and has been adequately trained by the sisters, and, we feel we are blessed to have her working for us.
She is always pleasant, freely going about her work, sometimes bossing us, (which we don't mind), leaving no room for complaint, very trustworthy and honest. People who come to our house also like her very much. 
We hardly celebrated any festivals, for us all days used to be the same, and even now it is the same, but for her sake we celebrate festivals.
Happy Varalakshmi Pooja to all!!
All other images are by Rama Ananth.


  1. Good writeup. Thanks for sharing

  2. Great post Rama, I did not know the details of the Varalakshmi Nonbu. Mary is an artist, with that beautiful rangoli:) I also checked out your Flickr photos...again:):) Loved that photo of you in the blue sari and realized what similar tastes we have in jewelry ... have a great weekend:)

  3. Thanks for explaining the story behind the Varalakshmi Nonbu. Mary's rangoli is beautiful!
    The earthy colour of the tiles makes the rangoli stand out.

  4. Thanks Kala. Yes Mary is very good in everything, that is why like her so much.
    I know that blue sari is very pretty, they have stopped making that kind of sari, so many people wanted to get a sari like that one, and the color is so eye catching. Thank you.

  5. Wish you the same Sudha.
    Thanks SV, I agree with you the flooring makes even a simple Rangoli stand out beautifully. Have a nice weekend.

  6. This is so beautiful !Loved knowing about the story of Varalakshmi Nonbu and it's significance.Please tell Mary that her Rangoli is wonderful.She is an efficient and trustworthy person and you are such a loving person.Both of you are lucky to have each other .

  7. Hello Rama,

    Lovely photos and excellent write up. So much information packed in one post. I learnt so much about this festival.

    Best wishes,

  8. Hi Rama, you are lucky to have a wonderful maid. The Rangoli is bedazzling! And i haven't heard details of why the Varalaxmi Nonbu is celebrated. Thanks for the detailed info:)

  9. Hi rama, good writeup indeed..:)

  10. Hi Rama, you are lucky to have a wonderful maid. the rangoli is fabulous! I never knew so many details existed behind Varalakshmi Nonbu! Thanks for the details shared:)

  11. Rangoli is beautiful..I lived for one and half year in Blore and saw these beautiful rangolies in front of houses.

  12. You really took me to your home for the pooja! Thanks for telling about Mary..much can be learned from such personalities.

  13. thanks for the info...we too celebrate karadaiyan nonbu.... the rangoli on the terracotta tiles too beautiful.... tell mary about this.

  14. First of all thanks for explaining about Varamahalaxmi pooja. Since I came to live in Bangalore and luckily in our community, we have people from all over India residing. It is fascinating to visit the houses of those who celebrate this pooja, the beautiful way in which they decorate laxmi and wear lovely saris and call us for haldi kumkum. I enjoyed your decoration too though here I see most ladies using a silver laxmi face and decorating it with ornaments and flowers. And, I have a similar maid. She has been working since almost 5 years now. She is a Muslim and one of the most secular people that I have met. She calls me akka and treats me like one. A wonderful lady at heart; I feel as if she is a part of my family. And, I converse with her in my Kannada and she has picked up some Hindi too :).

  15. Very good description. Thanks Rama.

  16. Thanks Kavita, have told Mary and she is mighty pleased with all the compliments coming her way.
    Thanks Joseph, and Nivedita, it is always good we know about the significance of the various festivals, for India is so diverse, with so many cultures and traditions, each region has so many stories to tell.
    Maybe these days we don't follow many things, still it is nice to know about their origins.
    Thank you, Ramesh, Nayana, Padmaja, Asha, Rachna and Amrit.

  17. Hey Rama !!! You explained it so well and I learned something too. The rangoli is good and brought back the memories of home and the things we miss here :-)

  18. hi,this is interesting I want to read more!

  19. attractive piece of information, I had come to know about your blog from my friend arjun, ahmedabad,i have read atleast eleven posts of yours by now, and let me tell you, your website gives the best and the most interesting information. This is just the kind of information that i had been looking for, i'm already your rss reader now and i would regularly watch out for the new posts, once again hats off to you! Thanks a lot once again, Regards,
    Varalakshmi Vratham

    1. Thanks Nasreen Basu. Welcome to my blogs.
      I am glad you liked the topics I write on.
      Keep coming, it is always a pleasure having readers like you.