Households and community marquees across West Bengal celebrated Lakshmi Puja on Wednesday, decorating their premises with colourful floor art, offering delicious vegetarian platters to the goddess and fasting with prayers for prosperity.
Popularly known as Kojagori Lakshmi puja in this part of India, the ritual to invoke Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, is observed on a full moon night (Kojagori Purnima or Sharad Purnima), just a few days after the Durga puja revelry ends.
The word Kojagori literally means a night of awakening, in keeping with the belief that Goddess Lakshmi visits every household at night to ascertain who is awake. Devotees believe she blesses those who are awake, with affluence and fortune.
To guide the Goddess into their homes, women and children drew colourful patterns (known as Alpona) and footprints of the Goddess herself, using rice flour, on the floor, across doorways and inside temples.
Families offered grains, flattened rice, gold, clothes, fruits, vegetables as well as fish in obeisance to the deity who is worshipped in the form of clay idols, photographs and earthen disks or ‘Patas’ with paintings of Lakshmi.
Sounds of conch shells reverberated across the eastern metropolis in the evening as the rituals started in full swing, ahead of late night vigils to welcome the Goddess.
Youngsters burnt firecrackers and decorated the puja premises with colourful lighting installations to mark the occasion.
The puja also coincides with the harvest festival (Nabanna).
Family gatherings with generous servings of luchis (fried flour chapatis) with an array of sugary chutneys and desserts helped drive away the sadness that prevails after the conclusion of the Durga Puja.