Bengali traditions & culture/ Festivals & Occasions/ Spirituality

Kojagari Lakshmi puja – rituals, believes and the divine Bengali feast platter

Kojagiri Lakshmi Pujo –

The autumn festivity that had started with Durga Pujo, concludes with another much awaited Lakshmi pujo or more precisely Kojagari Lakshmi pujo for Bengali, that falls on Kojagari purnima or sharad purnima as known elsewhere in other parts of India.

But for Bengali’s, especially those who hails from erstwhile East Bengal (present day Bangladesh) this kojagari Lakshmi pujo was just more than religious observance. This was more about sticking onto one’s cultural heritage and traditions. Through which strive for cultural identity could be established amidst the natives, the stark differences in linguistic and cultural attributes had led to the “great ghoti-bangal divide”, and it would be interesting to know how the partition of Bengal, the refugee problems and economic marginalization has contributed to so much of this differences.

kojagari bengali lakshmi puja

Fast forward to Seventy years later, this divide has become obsolete now almost and once popularized by East Bengal community, Kojagari Lakshmi puja is well adopted by everyone beyond the borders.

Interestingly, this is another time when the cultural attributes of each of the Bengali community is very much on display, while ghoti households worships Ma Lakshmi in form of idol, kojagari lakshmi pujo in bangal household altogether holds a different meaning.

khichuri bhog kojagari lakshmi puja

Hailing from such family, I had heard stories from my Ma and grandma about elaborate preparations they used to do during Lakshmi puja in Dhaka. The preparation would be started a week before, guest would be invited, the entire clan would be assembled and this one day was much more than religious rituals. It was also the time for bonhomie, get together, music and time to get indulge in huge feast platter.

Shora / Clay Disc For Lakshmi Pujo – In our homes, usually Ma Lakshmi is worshiped in form of “shora” or “paut”, a red color clay disc on which images of goddess are painted by the artists. Lakshmi Shora / Paut usually has Ma Lakshmi in the center with Jaya – Vijaya on side. But in our home, I have observed that Durga shora (see the pic) usually used for Lakshmi puja. May be because Lakshmi is considered as daughter of Ma Durga. Worshiping Lakshmi through the use of shoras entails a series of rituals that easily reveal its root link to an ancient agro-based culture. This tradition is still being followed in my home till the time my Ma used to do elaborate puja.

lokkhi shora paut lakshmi puja

Image courtesy – Departmag.com

Nowadays, people had adopted the easier route and idols had replaced the shora in most of the homes. As a result this unique art of shora painting (only few artist are continuing this in Kalighat area) is dying and on the verge of extinction from West Bengal, however it is resurrected and revived as a traditional art form in Bangladesh.

Apart from Shora, there is another unique element to Bangal Lakshmi puja, the banana boat or Sapttari.

Sapt-tari/ Banana boats are made of banana stems and its fibers, completed with mast and decked up with colorful flags. These are considered as trade ships and are filled with grains, hartiki, coins, cowries (used as currency in earlier times) and other items. Unlike the rest of India, we worship goddess Lakshmi as “dhanya lakshmi”, for granary wealth and not as “dhan lakshmi” for monetary wealth. This difference in concept and ideologies are very much prominent between the two Bengali community even.

Banana boats lakshmi puja

Though I am not a religious and ritualistic person, but I do Kojagari Lakshmi puja at home, purely because of this wonderful essence, the beautiful thought process underlying this tradition and secondly to continue with the cultural heritage and my quest for cultural identity amidst the melting pot of cosmopolitan culture. These are the way to connect back to your roots, to relive those soulful moments, that reminds us of our long lost ancestral homes.

In my home we usually do this puja as a Thanksgiving gesture. Thanking mother Earth for good harvest of paddy, bountiful of fishes and good trade.The banana boats are nothing but symbolic of trade ships as earlier people from eastern region were seafarers . Ships were loaded with paddy especially “Aush” that is harvested during this time, late – monsoon and is source of economic affluence of the people of this region. In kojagari pujo we fill the ships with paddy, five types of grains, cowrie shells (currencies in olden days) and coins, etc. These are symbolic of good fortune.

pushpanjali mantra bengali lakshmi puja

Alpona is another important aspect of any auspicious rituals in Bengali homes. Be it wedding, pujo and other such rituals, alpona must be drawn on altar, on floors or on chowkis or pidhi. The motifs are mostly floral designs and are drawn to welcome / or to invoke the goddess. For Lakshmi pujo, the motifs are usually ears of husk of paddy (dhan er chhora), lotus (icono-graphically associated with Lakshmi and symbolic of purity and beauty), feet of Lakshmi, owl and other floral motifs. Traditionally it is drawn with fingers (fingers are used as brush) and rice paste as paint. For pujo, one must bath and cleansed herself before drawing the alpona.

lakshmi puja alpona bengali

Now a days this dying art is still being practiced by few, for community puja and grand celebration it is being replaced by the acrylic paint. It may be convenient for some to use the acrylic stickers without going through the meditating process of drawing alpona and where everything matters nowadays on hashtgas of instant life, for insta generation, but for me I still love the traditional approach to it. You don’t have to be an artist to draw alpona, just unleash your creativity and follow your own thought process, the spontaneity that it brings is truly beautiful, in every essence of it.

Kojagari Lakshmi Puja Bhog parsad–   or any pujo in Bengali community is always followed by a lavish feast or “bhog” that is prepared in sattvic (without onions- garlic and other ingredients) manner and is offered to Goddess. The feasty divine platter usually consists of murir moa (puffed rice balls), til er naru (black sesame seeds laddoo), narkel naru (coconut jaggery laddoo), murki (candied popped rice) and bhoger khichuri, labra labdar tarkari (mix vegetable), tomato khejur (date) chutney and payesh or payasam. This is the usual fare without which Lakshmi puja bhog looks incomplete.

Luchi / poori, cholar dal/ chana dal, chanar dalna / paneer curry are additional entities to give a feasty look.

bengali bhog kojagori lakshmi pujo

Basic rituals of Kojagari Lakshmi puja – Since I can not source many things required for typical Bengali Lakshmi puja, here are some of the rituals, I am including only those that makes sense to me and in modified version.

kojagari lakshmi puja

To appease the Goddess and to seek her blessings in your life, all you need is pure and clean heart and nothing else.

However, here are some of the rituals –

After drawing the alpona, follow these procedures.

1)Light a dhoop and lamp and the incense will purify the atmosphere around the house. Not only that, you will feel good about it.

2) Arrange the bhog specially black sesame ladoo, payasam and coconut laddoo on the left side of the Goddess. These three are considered as essential bhog prasad for Lakshmi puja. Arrange rest of the bhog on the left side only.

3)Apart from bhog, five types of whole fruits are also offered to Goddess, this usually include the seasonal varieties like apple, pomegranate, mausambi and pomello (batabi lebu). Do not include banana here.

4)One dozen banana on single bunch is also needed for the puja.

5)On a separate plate, a mound of popped rice (khoi in Bengali) and dry dates are also offered. Popped rice denotes prosperity.

Lakshmi ghot – ghot or brass / clay pot filled with water. First you need to mark the ghot with sindoor / vermilion and draw a swastik. Bengali swastik sign is different from commonly perceived image of swastik.

 symbol

Image Credit – Acsenray CC BY-SA 4.0

Place that ghot on mound of paddy or rice grains. Place mango leaves on the ghot (usually five mango leaves from a mango tree that bears fruit). Place shriphal usually coconut and banana are considered as shriphal. In Bengal it is usually green coconut or daab with stalks. Many also draw swastik on green coconut. Cover the fruit with red cloth or gamcha. You can place flowers or garland over it. It is believed that Ma Lakshmi resides in the ghot during puja.

how to do kojagari lakshmi puja

Now on a pooja chowki / pidhi covered with a clean and decorative cloth, place Lakshmi idol or image there. Decorate with flowers, garlands etc. Place five betel leaves and nuts around it. Each betel leaves accompanied with a betel nut.

In a small container put sindoor and chandan /sandalwood powder. Apply that to goddess as bindi before starting the puja.

Other things that I follow –

Adhibas dala a cane basket containing sindoor, alta, sugandhi / perfume, conch shell bangle, iron bangle, red abir, oil, turmeric, swastik pituli, yellow thread, flowers, rice, cowrie shells and coins.

Panchshashyae / or five grains- this mostly contains five ancient grains containing rice akshata (without broken grain), yellow mustard seeds, black sesame seeds, paddy grains, wheat / or mashkalai

Panchamrat – mixture of five foods used during puja and this is prepared with ghee, honey, jaggery (liquid), curd and milk

Madhuparka – practice of offering honey to the deity, this is prepared with ghee, honey, curd and milk.

lakshmi puja rituals

 

Lakshmi Puja Mantra for oblation and offerings made to goddess, place holy basil leaves on each and everything that is being offered to goddess. While doing the puja, chant this mantra –

” Namostestu Maha Maye, Shree padmeye, sura poojithe, Shanka, Chakra, Gadha hasthe, Maha Lakshmi Namostute II”

Pushpanjali mantra (Bengali version from panchali)

“Om namosteh sarv devanam barodasi haripriye I

Ja gotistangm proponanam sa meh bhurvartah darchnaat II”

Pranam mantra (Bengali version from panchali) –

“Om vishwarupasye bharjaysi padme (padde) paddalaya shubhe I

Sarvatah pahimaan devi mahalakshmi namostute II”

 

Arti with panchapradip – This aarti ritual literally purifies the atmospheric air. It symbolizes our dedication and oneness with the goddess. It also symbolizes removal of darkness by true spiritual enlightenment.

At the end of aarti, burn a camphor or karpur and offer it to deity. Camphor when burns itself out, it leaves no residue and spread sweet fragrances in the air. It symbolizes the act of devoting yourself to the divine power and like camphor, free your mind of arrogance, ego and other negativity that surrounds you and spread goodness around you and light of knowledge to other’s lives that touches theirs.

festival india diwali

The heady scent of dhoop and incense, the melodious chant of mantras, pushpanjali, the divine sound of conch shell, the sparkle of lamps, perfume of camphor, bright flowers, holy basil and the feasty platter ushered a spiritual moment in our daily mundane life and filled us with hopes, peace, love and positivity.

Hope you have loved this article on Bengali version of Kojagari Lakshmi Puja

Stay blessed awlays

Sukanya

23 Comments

  • Reply
    The best of saffronstreaks 2017 - year end wrap up post
    December 31, 2017 at 11:18 am

    […] on here for full details on how to do kojagari Lakshmi puja at home, with mantras and rituals to […]

  • Reply
    Saswati Basu Chatterjee
    January 17, 2018 at 5:52 am

    Everything is well written only 2 things i would like to rectify:
    1. It is not SWASTIK, it is called BASHUDHA
    2. Most probably it is not “Madhuparko”, it’s MADHUPOKYO.

    • Reply
      Sukanya Ghosh
      January 26, 2018 at 7:30 am

      Thank you. I have read some where that Bengali swastika symbol looks like that. Not much familiar with basudha.
      If you have any access to further reading or article on the same please share it. Would love to know more about it.

  • Reply
    Anonymous
    October 20, 2018 at 1:30 pm

    Madhuparka have 5 elements.. .u missed out jaggeem or sugar

  • Reply
    Gautam Sen
    October 24, 2018 at 2:13 pm

    I needed a swastik symbol from the net, As I found it and thay way I came into contact to your blog. It’s so attactive and informative as well. I will keep in touch. Let me subcribe for getting informed. thank you !

  • Reply
    Sangeeta Bhattacharya
    October 24, 2018 at 4:07 pm

    This blog made me nostalgic. Could associate so many things from my childhood days.

    • Reply
      Sukanya Ghosh
      December 21, 2018 at 10:39 am

      Thank you so much.

    • Reply
      Sukanya Ghosh
      December 21, 2018 at 10:40 am

      Yes absolutely . Even I was re living my child hood days while writing this post. So much to share. Thank you Sangeeta

  • Reply
    krishna mukherji
    October 26, 2018 at 3:47 pm

    For how many days the ghot should remain on puja platform? Is one supposed to be vegetarian till the time ghot is removed .what do you do with the coconut on the ghot? Tks

    • Reply
      Sukanya Ghosh
      December 21, 2018 at 10:44 am

      Hi Krishna, we usually do the visarjan the next day in the evening. You can do that in the morning as well. Eating veg / non-veg is purely a personal choice. But if you ask me, yes we do follow the veg diet till ghot is removed. As per the scriptures, and rituals, it is believed that coconut should be immersed in any water body as Ma laskhmi resides in that ghot. So generally people do not eat that. It is up to you, what good use you can make out of it. . Thanks

  • Reply
    Anjana Banerjee
    December 12, 2018 at 6:58 am

    I too read the entire article, and must say, many rituals my mother used to preform in our home in Kolkata came to my mind. They were indeed sweet memories of my childhood. This particular Kojagari Laxmi pujo I recall helping my mother at the age of three. I washed the couri shells for her and the shankh. I even tried my hand at alpona at that age. It was many years ago and I lost touch with all the rituals. Its so importent to teach our children, to give them a sense of who they are and wher they come from, and where they belong. Thank you so much for touching on every aspect of the entire day of pujo. I will definately preform this in my new home now.

    • Reply
      Sukanya Ghosh
      December 21, 2018 at 10:50 am

      Dear Anjana, the day I received your comment, it made my mornings beautiful, inspiring and makes the purpose of blogging with heart all the more meaningful. I am really touched to see, that post like this can help people connect back to their roots. Trying alpona at the age of three is really incredible. Big applause for that. Yes, absolutely the responsibility on our shoulder to pass the baton of our tradition and heritage to the next genearion. Thank you so much for your appreciation.

  • Reply
    Rimpa Dutta
    October 9, 2019 at 3:33 pm

    Such a beautiful description of the pooja. Can you please also write the Lokkhi Pachali same way you have written the Pooja Mantras.

    • Reply
      Sukanya Ghosh
      October 31, 2019 at 10:24 am

      Thank you so much Rimpa. I will give this a try.

  • Reply
    Urmi
    October 13, 2019 at 7:48 pm

    I understand tulsi leaves (basil) are not offered or associated with puja to Goddess Lakshmi

    • Reply
      Sukanya Ghosh
      October 31, 2019 at 10:23 am

      Dear Urmi, As far as my understanding, lakshmi puja ,any puja for that matter is incomplete without tulsi leaves. If you have observed closely through the pictures you might have found that tulsi leaves are scattered all over bhog / offerings and on adhibas dala, basically on everything which you are offering. Also it is a ritual to hold tulsi leaves in your hand while doing puja and while offering pushpanjali.
      Thank you

  • Reply
    Vidya Ghosh
    October 25, 2020 at 9:49 pm

    Dear Sukanya.I went through your blog and found it very informative.While reading it, I traveled through my memory lane. I remembered a huge function taking place in my house during Kojagori Lokkhi pujo. But as I remember my mother and the other elders of the family ( female ones),that we should always put sindur on the alpona,without it , it is incomplete.I just wanted to clear my doubt.Correct me if I am wrong.
    Second point is that since tulsi leaves are also called Vishnu leaves and since Vishnu is Ma Laxmi’s husband , so we should not use tulsi leaves in Ma Laxmi’s puja.This is why ,I think Urmi was telling that tulsi leaves should not be used for mother Laxmi’s puja.(Though I am not much sure about it.
    Thanks and waiting for your response.

    • Reply
      Sukanya Ghosh
      October 25, 2020 at 10:51 pm

      Dear Vidya Thanks for sharing your inputs. I am also learning, exploring and trying to understand the significance behind these rituals.
      In our home, when priest used to come to perform Kojagiri Lakshmi puja, he always used to bring Narayan Shila with him. For the obvious reason as Narayan is Lakshmi’s consort and it is believed that Lakshmi should always be worshiped as Lakshmi-Narayan. And as Narayan enters the house, ladies used to blow conch shells and “ulu’dhwani. First all the rituals associated including achaman and offerings are made for Vishnu. Then chanting through out the initial ritual “om namah vishnu” he will arrange everything associated with the puja.
      Yes you are right, sindur is applied to the alpona (also to the pan -supari ,as it is believed that Ma lakshmi resides in Pan)and this is usually done by the priest. Making Tirkathi, Sree everything priest used to make. I usually skip these when I do it alone.
      Every offering that is given to Goddess Lakshmi must have tulsi leaves on it, that includes bhog prasad, panchkhadya, panch sorshe and everything.
      Actual Lakshmi puja started much after the initial puja and offering made to Vishnu and other deities.

      Every home has their own set of rituals that they follow. In our home we had never worshiped Ma Lakshmi in idol form, it was always in form of shora (that too Durga Shora. not Lakshmi shora ). Now a days its so difficult to get the shora, so we have adapted the picture form.

  • Reply
    Satabdi Deb
    October 28, 2020 at 3:22 pm

    Hello Sukanya,
    The article is very informative and detailed and I enjoyed reading it very much. It took me to the memory lanes of childhood. Just like your family, my family also worships Goddess Lokhi in the form of Sora, and now that it is difficult to find one, I paint one myself for the puja. The household puja was not introduced to me by my mother in law as she had demised many years before my marriage so I always have lots of doubts. Your article has helped me a lot. Thank you!

    • Reply
      Sukanya Ghosh
      October 29, 2020 at 8:03 pm

      Thank you so much Satabdi and am so happy to know that you have found this article helpful. Painting shora at home is really commendable effort. Stay blessed.

  • Reply
    Sukanya Sarkar
    October 29, 2020 at 8:57 pm

    Hi..Sukanya…First of all for making me relive my childhood days..♥️ It used to be a huge affair at our home & me being busy with helping out my ‘Thamma’…was looking for something like this…n VIOLA!! I found you… Lots of love.. ♥️♥️ from Sukanya Sarkar…

  • Reply
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