Goddess Parvathi asked Lord Shiva to narrate the importance of the performance of the Vratam which will provide women with all kinds of wealth that she desires. Lord Shiva accepted her request and told her that "Vara Lakshmi Vratam" should be observed on a Friday that falls just before the full moon day in the month of "Sravanam". To illustrate the holiness of theVratam, Lord Shiva also recited the story of Charumati of Maratha Desam.
The Story of Charumati of Maratha Desam:
Long long ago there lived a courteous and shrewd brahmin lady called Charumati in the Maratha Desam. Maratha Desam was a town where houses are built of golden walls and it’s a town with golden houses. Charumathi was called as a "Maha Pativrata" who indulged in whole hearted worship of her husband and took great care of her in-laws and gave utmost respect.
Goddess Lakshmi was very pleased with her nature and she wanted Charumathi’s fame spread across the universe. So Goddess Lakshmi appeared in her dream and advised her to perform the Varalakshmi Vratam on the Sukravaram (Friday) in the month of Sravana on a sukla paksha day which should fall before the full moon day of that month. Charumathi prayed in devotion to the Goddess Lakshmi in the dream itself and the following morning, she narrated the whole dream to her husband and in-laws.
She took permission from her husband and in-laws and she called other neighborhood women and discussed about the performance of this pooja. Everyone from her neighborhood’s were very excited and eagerly awaited for the day to come when Charumati would perform this puja.
On the much awaited day, the women cleaned their houses with cow dung; put a stage to keep the picture of Goddess Varalakshmi on one corner of the house. Everyone performed the pooja to the Kalasam with sincere and pure hearted devotion and holiness. They tied the "kankanam" to their wrist and offered "Naivedyam" to the Goddess Lakshmi.
A miracle started to happen as they started to take "Pradakshinam" (walk in a circular motion around the Kalasam / God) after the puja. They saw themselves covered with various jewels one at a time such as, anklets on their feet, bracelets on their hands, "haaram" for their neck and various other ornaments before the final pradakshina. Enthralled with the blessings of Goddess Lakshmi, all of them prayed to the Goddess and honored the Pundit with "Dakshina" (offerings by way of money or rice or other cereals) and ended the Vratam by taking the "Naivedyam".
Women stepping out of Charumathi’s house saw their houses decorated and filled with various riches and golden chariots waiting for them outside her house. Filled with extreme happiness, women thanked Charumathi for sharing her luck with them. Ever since, VaraLakshmi Vratam is performed in every house on this auspicious day of Sravana Sukravaram, which is the Friday before the full moon day in the month of "Sravana Masam".
There is also another tale which says that the Vratam was also preached by sage Suta to Sounaka and other sages.
Another myth is that Chitranemi who was one cursed by Parvati for having made a partial judgement in favour of Shiva when asked to play the referee for their game, got relieved from the curse by having watched this Vratam performed by some pious women. Such is the sacredness of the Vratam.