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Ladakh Diaries Part 9: Lamayuru

Lamayuru is one of the most ancient monasteries in Ladakh, the oldest surviving structure dating to the 11 th century CE. What makes this monastery particularly fascinating, is its location, amidst what is today called the “moonscape”, for the spectacular natural rock formations, which truly are “out of the world”! As per legend , there once existed a huge lake in this area, populated only by the Nagas (serpents). It was prophesized that there would be a great monastery built here. This prophecy came true when the great acharya Naropa (756-1041 CE) arrived. He emptied the lake, meditated for many years inside a cave, and built the first monastery here. The present structure is a new one, built around the cave where Acharya Naropa is said to have meditated. This legend seems to fit well with the geological formations seen in the area, which suggest this was a paleo-lake, which disappeared around 1000 years ago. Lamayuru is about 130 km from Leh , and the Indus River flows along th

Varalakshmi Vratham 2012 - a memorable festival!

What a week it has been!! I was just recuperating from a bout of the flu, and looking forward to catching up with all my writing, and all that I had missed.... The festival season was just about to begin, and I was looking forward to writing about all the festivals we will be celebrating this month..... And then, while I was busy preparing for the most elaborate celebration of the month, my left hand middle finger suddenly showed a slight swelling. Assuming it to be nothing important, I went on with the work, and managed to perform the Varalakshmi puja without too many problems. But by Friday night, the swelling was too big and painful to ignore, and a visit to the doc told me that the finger was infected, and filled with pus! So, here I am, today, with the finger bandaged, and managing to type with one hand after a long time.... Obviously I cant write much, so I shall just leave you with photos of Varalakshmi puja at home.... Incidentally, this is the first time I performed the puja all by myself, since my mother in law is out of town... my finger couldnt have chosen a better time to get infected, could it? 

The Varalakshmi puja is, as the name suggests, a prayer to the Goddess Lakshmi, the deity who looks after our well being.. This puja is performed in the southern states of India, and is considered among the most important festivals of the year.. The house is cleaned and decorated, and the goddess is invoked in a kalash (metal pot) with a coconut placed on it. Come, let me show you how I performed the puja...

Welcome to our house.. a kolam at the entrance...

and kolams for the goddess....

the mandapam with the goddess... banana trees are considered auspicious and tied around the mandapam...

the deity...a silver mask placed over the coconut on the kalash, and decorated to resemble a goddess..

Flowers for the goddess...

And last but not the least, the offerings... This was just one of the offerings, but the one which both Samhith and I love to eat - Modaks or Kozhakattais !!! 


  1. aah! although I am a diabetic, I will gulp all the kozhakattais on the plate. I never knew that a mask of Goddess Lakshmi is placed instead of an idol. Along with my brother's wife I went to one of the largest jewellery shops of Chennai where such masks were available. One of them was costing Rs.11 lacs (Diamond studded).

    1. PNS, please feel free to gulp these online least they will not increase ur sugar level! in reality, you would find it difficult too, since they were huge! i made smaller ones for the main offerings and later made these huge ones because samhith asked me to :D and even he couldnt gulp down one in one gulp! as to the 11 lac mask, it must have looked beautiful, though i wonder who would actually buy it!!

  2. very lovely decorations, kolams are traditional with that red paste.. and i am drooling over the modhakas :P

    1. thanks Sri!!! and you are welcome anytime for the modhakas!!

  3. Very Beautiful pictures n decorations!

  4. Hello,
    I read your blog occassionally and like the posts on travel and the religious places.
    I have a question. I have the ask but I think I do something wrong in decorating the "kalasam" with the mask. Would you mind doing a series of photos/instructions to explain how to go about it please?
    Thank you

    1. Thanks so much Gayatri... I havent actually clicked photos of the preparation stage... since i am the one doing the decoration as well as the one who takes the photos :D will try next time, though.. meanwhile, i could explain how i do it... why dont u send me ur email add or send me a mail at anushankarn(at)gmail(dot)com and i can try to clear out your difficulties

  5. Hey, I didn't know Tamilians also did Varalakshmi Puja! I thought it was an exclsively Telugu thing! I used to help my mother fashion a face of the Goddess on a coconut and then my mother would place that in a kalash and decorate it to resemble a Goddess. The mask was not used owing to a family tradition although my mother had one of those silver maskes. I think she still has the mask in her Puja Mandir. It was my favourite puja as a child!

    1. How come I never invited you for one of our Varalakshmi pujas? we have been doing it every year except just maybe once or twice due to some death in the family. and i didnt know that ur mom did the puja either :D

  6. excellent piece of information, I had come to know about your website from my friend kavitha, pune,i have read atleast 8 posts of yours by now, and let me tell you, your site gives the best and the most interesting information. This is just the kind of information that i had been looking for, i'm already your rss reader now and i would regularly watch out for the new posts, once again hats off to you! Thanx a lot once again, Regards, Varalakshmi Vratham


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