Shravana Shukravara Pooja is also known as Sampath Shukravara vratha. This is performed in the Hindu month of Shravana, July – August in Gregorian calendar dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi / Gowri. This pooja / vratha / religious observance is performed on all the Fridays of Shravana. This year (2016) Shravana masa is from 3rd Aug to 1st Sept. The Fridays are 5th August, 12th August, 19th August, and 26th August.
On this day women are supposed to take an oil head bath early in the morning. Divide a mud or copper or silver pot into five pots and in each segment draw Shanka / Conch shell, Chakra / Disc, two Goddess Lakshmi / Gowri, Cow and Calf, Elephant as shown in the picture below.
On the lid draw Padma / Lotus flower.
This is known as Sampath Gowri Gadige. Put Rice, Dry Date, Turmeric Root, and Betel Nut inside the pot and place it in the shrine.
Do sthapane / installation of the pot and Ahvahana / welcome Goddess Lakshmi (sthapane, ahvahana are done by chanting the respective mantra). Perform pooja by offering Sandal paste, Gejjevastra, Flowers and especially the Kewda flower / Pandanus odorifer. Festive food is prepared and offered as Naivedya / blessed food.
Perform Thambittu aarathi or Hooranada / lentil dough aarathi singing songs. Shape into 5 small cups using the hoorana and keep a wick inside each cup and light it up.
Invite a married woman home and serve her with festival food and just before she leaves give Mangala drowya and a Sampath Gowri pot.
There is a story behind this vratha too and it is sung in the form of a song. Once upon a time in a distant land lived a poor Brahmin, his wife, 4 sons and 4 daughters-in-law. One day when he had gone out for begging he sees a grand celebration in a house. He enquires about the celebration and they inform him that they were performing the Sampath Gowri vratha and went on to explain how the vratha was being performed. They gave him the Sampath Gowri pot along with alms. On the way back home, due to the Sampath Gowri pot in his hands, people voluntarily called him home to give alms. He was delighted and narrated everything that happened to his wife.
Immediately the Brahmin’s wife along with her daugters-in-law arranged a pedestal and installed Sampth Gowri and prepared naivedya / blessed food. She sent her youngest daughter-in-law to invite a married woman home. As she stepped out of home to invite with Kumkum / Vermilion colored powder and Oil, she saw a glowing married woman who approached her and said that she would come over for the pooja celebration and she took the Kumkum and applied on her forehead. At home all of them waited for the lady till evening, but she does not turn up. The same event happened to all the other three dautghters-in-law in the next three weeks. The mother-in-law was frustrated and went out to invite and was met by the same woman and she accepted the invite voluntarily. She informed that she will come in the evening. Mother-in-law agreed and decorated the house with thorana / mango leaf festoons, and everyone took an early morning oil head bath and dressed themselves with Arishina / Turmeric Powder, Kumkum / Vermilion colored powder, bangles and flowers. They prepared Holige, Payasa, Ambode and offered to the goddess and performed the pooja with many types of flowers and wait for the woman.
Suddenly, an illusion was experienced by the family members, it was as though light was entering into the darkness and in the background the sound of the anklets “Jhal Jhal” was heard. A beautiful woman fully decked up with jewelry and flowers entered the room. It was not an illusion but it was Goddess Lakshmi herself! The couples are stunned and pray and take her blessings. Wherever the goddess turned and looked treasure filled up the place and the family was endowed with wealth and prosperity.