The preparation for Laxmi Pooja begins with the cleaning of homes and business premises, which is believed to invite good fortune and prosperity. People decorate their homes with rangoli designs, typically using colorful powders, and light numerous oil lamps and candles (in our modern times) to create a warm and welcoming environment for the goddess. It is a common belief that Goddess Lakshmi visits the cleanest and most vibrant homes first.
At the time of the pooja, a special altar is set up for the occasion. The idols or images of Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesha, who is worshipped to remove obstacles, are placed on a raised platform. The altar is adorned with flowers, garlands, and a new cloth. A kalash (a pot symbolizing prosperity and filled with water) is usually placed at the pooja altar with a coconut atop it, surrounded by mango leaves.
The actual ritual involves the lighting of more lamps, the offering of prayers, and the chanting of mantras dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi. Families gather together for the pooja, often dressed in new clothes as a sign of renewal and purity. Offerings of fruits, sweets, and flowers are made, and traditional prayers are recited. The sound of ringing bells and the aroma of incense sticks create a divine atmosphere.
After the pooja, it is customary to open all the doors and windows in the home, symbolizing the invitation to the goddess to come in. Financial books and safes are also worshipped on this day, which is particularly significant for the business community.
The Laxmi Pooja concludes with the distribution of Prasad, the sanctified food that has been offered to the deities. Families then enjoy a festive meal together. Many people also partake in friendly gambling with small token amounts, between family and friends on this night, as it is considered to bring good luck for the coming year.
The ritual of Laxmi Pooja thus embodies the hopes for health, wealth, and prosperity and is performed with great reverence and joy.