28th August 2015, an auspicious Friday was the Varalakshmi Vrata Puja. I have been doing this puja with lot of faith and devotion every year after my marriage. Preparations start almost a week before the puja day and my MIL being quite traditional prefers that I do this puja with all the traditions and rituals. I have tried to follow these for most of the years; but this year I had to travel to the US for about a month during this period. As I was put up in a hotel it was difficult to do any prayers which involved rituals. Also the usual ‘Amman mukham’ (face of goddess Laxmi) which is offered prayers is not supposed to be transported from place to place. I was in a dilemma wanting to do the prayers but not being in a position to. I searched through the web and found that in Flushing Ganesha temple in Queens, NYC; some prayers were being held.
Till the 27th I was not sure if I could make it. But it was by Her sheer grace i.e next day (28th Aug Fri) morning I was at the temple by 9.30am and prayers had yet to commence. When enquired we were told that VaraMahalakshmi puja would be conducted and anyone interested could participate. Needless to say I grabbed the opportunity. The temple is very beautiful and the prayers were wonderfully organised. We were able to witness the abhishekam for the Goddess Mahalakshmi installed there to the chants of all the suktams which we could chant along. She was decorated so beautifully and below the idol were placed one utsava murthy (the idol which is not usually installed but can be moved around for prayers) of Amman as well as a Varalakshmi amman on the traditional kumbham. About 75 ladies offered prayers with akshada (yellow rice) and yellow flowers. Lakshmi sahasranama (1008 names of Goddess Lakshmi) followed by Lakshmi ashtotram and reading of Vrata Katha and tying of the auspicious yellow thread. What more could I have asked for? In fact during my yearly puja I just prepare Prasad and chant ashtotram (more ritualistic) but this time it was more spiritual. I profusely thanked Goddess for giving me this opportunity.
Then to the ‘Sai Leela’. As I was seated between two other ladies for the prayers, I heard a conversation between them and one lady just asked the other one where she had been? Had she been to the next door Sai temple? I couldn’t believe what they were talking. Were they talking about my Sai?? Immediately I asked one of them about the Sai temple and sure enough it was right at the next street. As soon as the Varalakshmi puja finished; we rushed to the Sai temple and OMG what a magnificent statue of our merciful Lord beheld our eyes; it was as if He was waiting for us. Such a serene and calm place. We were not allowed to photograph at the Ganesha temple; but here in our Sai darbar the kind priest was so loving and gentle; he told us to take as many pictures as we wanted and in that temple also a beautiful Varalakshmi amman was being worshipped. Needless to say I took a lot of pictures and was brimming with bliss and joy thanking my dearest SWAMI.
God does answer our heartfelt prayers. JSR