We are well into the various celebrations that are done during the four days of Diwali in Maharashtra, and the second celebration is that of Laxmi Pujan , or the worship and celebration of the Godess of Wealth, Laxmi.
This is called Lakshmi Pujan, and in many families, there is an elaborate laying out of jewellery and valuables, in honor of the Goddess, and a worship ritual is followed, with everyone in the family dressed in their Diwali best. Different days of Diwali are celebrated by different families in varying degrees of importance, depending on what you have traditionally followed all along.
And then I came upon, what I thought, was a very unusual Laxmi Pujan , which, my household help S., (hitherto greatly blogged about and known to readers of this blog), was checking with me about.
This morning, she suddenly took out the traditional Indian calendar where it was hung on the kitchen wall, and brought it to me . I know she doesn't really do a religious celebration of Diwali, but it is more of a social and family holiday event for her.
" Can you check and tell me what the actual timings for Laxmi Pujan are, today (26th) ?" she asked me . The Indian calendar is moon based, and the moon calendar days can change during any time of our normal sun-calendar day. I checked and confirmed for her that the timings recommended for Laxmi Pujan were between roughly 6 pm to 8:30 pm.
And I was completely intrigued because S has never followed all these rituals in all the years that I have known her.
S had recently become a grandma for the 4th time, with the arrival of a grandson. The new mother and the baby were, as per tradition, at her maternal home, and would return to S.'s abode some time later after the naming ceremony and so on, most likely after a month or two.
" Today completes 12 days after the baby's birth. It is Laxmi Pujan , a good auspicious day. I thought I would have a small celebration for the new mother(her daughter-in-law) and baby, invite 5 ladies, honor them, place the little fellow in their lap for blessings. She has enriched us with the new grandchild, and I thought this was a nice thing to do for the new mother during Laxmi Pujan".
And she went on to tell me about some new saree she had bought to present to the new mother, her youngest daughter-in-law, as well as a fancy bonnet for the baby boy. She discussed the refreshments she was planning to serve, and how her own daughter, who was a trained mehndi artist was planning to do a wonderful design for her youngest sister-in-law, on her hand, in honor of the occasion.
All this on the day of Laxmi Pujan, when you celebrated and worshipped the Goddess of Wealth.
And i thought what a lovely thought this was about wealth and riches in a life. Which did not necessarily mean money. And jewellery. And the like.
In a state where girls were being named "Nakoshi" (unwanted), because they happened instead of a son, and where, having discovered several such instances, the government was having a huge public renaming of these girls, here was "S.", living in these amazing unimaginable conditions , secretly hankering after a granddaughter, but immensely pleased yet with the birth of the youngest grandchild, a male, and celebrating with the new young mother, because she has enriched the family !
And yet again, I marveled at S.'s thought processes, and her ability to figure out what Diwali, the bright lights, the Goddess Laxmi, and her worship, was all about......
And how lucky I was to know her .