Households and community marquees across West Bengal on Thursday worshipped Hindu goddess Lakshmi with gaiety and religious fervour, fasting late into the night with prayers for prosperity and wealth.
Popularly known as Kojagori Lakshmi puja in this part of India, it is observed on a full moon night (Kojagori Purnima) after Durga puja.
The word Kojagori literally means a night of awakening and signifies 'ke jege ache' or 'who is awake' in keeping with the belief that goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, visits every house at night to ascertain who is awake. It is believed she blesses those who are awake, with fortune and prosperity.
To guide the goddess into their homes, women and children drew colourful patterns (called Alpona) from rice flour on the floor, across doorways and inside temples. Powdered rice was used to draw the goddess's feet entering the house.
Families offered grain, 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 discs with paintings of Lakshmi (called 'pat').
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. 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 laddoos helped masked the sadness that prevails after the conclusion of the Durga puja.
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