An important Vrata dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi in North India is the Mahalakshmi Vratha or Mahalaxmi Puja which begins on the Bhadrapad Shukla Ashtami Tithi (eighth day after new moon in September) and ends on Ashwin Krishna Ashtami Tithi (eighth day after full moon in September). In 2014, Mahalakshmi Vrata begins on September 2 and ends on September 15. The Mahalaxmi Vrata is observed for sixteen days and is mainly followed in
Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
The greatness of Mahalakshmi Vrata was explained to Yudhisthira by Lord Krishna. Yudhisthira wanted to know about a Vrata with which he can get back all that he had lost including property and wealth. The importance of the Vrata is also mentioned in the Bhavishya Purana.
The Lakshmi Vrata in
North India begins on the Bhadrapad Shukla Ashtami morning with special prayers to Goddess Lakshmi. After taking bath, usual prayers are offered to Lakshmi. Some people make sixteen knots using a string and tie it on the left hand. Sixteen Dhurva grass is dipped in water and is sprinkled on the body.
The main ritual during the Vrata is abstaining from non-vegetarian food, waking up early taking bath and praying to Goddess Lakshmi for prosperity.
The Vrata ends on the Ashwina Krishna Ashtami day with evening prayers dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi. A Kalash or Purna Kumbha is worshipped as Mahalakshmi on the last day. A bronze Kalasham (pot) is filled with water, akshatas, couple of coins etc. The neck of the pot is decorated with betel leaves or mango leaves. The pot is smeared with kumkum, sandalwood and turmeric paste. A coconut is placed on the neck of the pot and is also smeared with kumkum and turmeric. A new cloth is tied to the Kalasha and it is worshipped as Goddess Lakshmi.
Normal pujas are performed on all days like lighting a lamp, incense and dhoop etc. You can also listen to Lakshmi Sahasranama or other bhajans or Mahalakshmi Vratha Katha dedicated to Goddess Mahalakshmi during the period.