As I mentioned in my previous post, today is Gai Puja and Laxmi Puja as well.
In the morning of this day, the cow, the mother of the universe, is worshiped. According to Hinduism, the human infant is fed breast milk by its human mother for three years. After weaning, the cow acts as the surrogate mother providing milk for the rest of the human life – through childhood, adult age and old age. Cows are the mothers of the universe, the sacred animal. Hindus consider a cow as sacred and used its milk, dung and even urine for purification purpose. Those performing Cow puja place her manure in different parts of the home, drink a drop or two of the cow’s urine, as a part of a purification process. Also dip a blade of grass into the urine and lightly sprinkle it on each other’s body to become closer to the mother of the universe – cow.
People in villages who have a cow worship their cow but most of the people in Kathmandu don’t have a cow so they either go to a priest’s house or to a temple to worship the cow.
Cow is worshiped by putting tika on their forehead and a garland around their neck. They are offered a delicious meal and fruits.
A cow also symbolises wealth and a form of goddess Laxmi.
In the afternoon, the whole house is cleaned in preparation for welcoming the goddess of wealth, Laxmi. Most of the houses have their front door decorated with a mandap and have a trail of red mud leading to their Puja room (worship room in the house) .
Laxmi Puja is performed using flowers, incense, oil lamps, color-powders, bell and money (both notes and coins). Laxmi puja is performed at dusk using red mud, and puja is often done by a female in the family.
When I was young, I used to help mum do this. It was one of my favourite holiday activities. First, red mud is used to make a trail leading to the Puja room. Once it is dry, a mixture of flour and water is used to make a symbolic footprint of Goddess Laxmi on the floor entering the home. Once the flour footprints have dried, vermillion mixed with oil is put on them along with some flowers. This results in a trail of small red footprints from the main door of the house to the Puja room symbolising that Goddess Laxmi has entered the house.
The entire house is decorated with flower garlands and lit oil lamps in every doors and windows.
Also people use firecrackers to celebrate the festival.
In Australia, we can’t do all this so I printed out small footsteps on paper and used that as an alternative to lead the Goddess Laxmi to our Puja area. Also at the start of the footsteps, I had a mandap of Lord Ganesh.
I set up a photo of goddess Laxmi with some notes and our piggy bank in the Puja area.
Then I performed Puja using tika, flower, garland, fruits, roti and masala.
I had candles lit in the puja area as well as twinkle lights to simulate the ambience of Tihar.
Laxmi puja is not only for households but is also performed by businesses. Business-Laxmi-Puja is done exactly the same way as is done in home. Usually the company’s cashier performs the puja during which time the entire office including office compounds are lit with various lights including electrical, candle lights, and oil lamps and usually the staffs are invited to participate in the puja procession.
From this day on for the next 3 days, there will be women in groups coming door to door singing special songs called Bhailani. It is considered auspicious to have these groups come to your front door. The house owner will offer them some rotis, fruits and money and they sing Bhailo blessing the household with good fortune.