Goddess of wealth, prosperity, luck and luxury, the vibrant and radiant goddess Lakshmi is the bestower of all these on the people who pray to her with a pure heart and pure intentions. She is the goddess worshipped on the third day of the Hindu festival of lights – Diwali or Deepawali. People pray to her for success, financial growth and stability and good fortunes. The family assembles together and does a ritual of praying to all their gold, silver, diamond and financial assets. The pooja is done during the dusk or the evening time because it is considered that Goddess Lakshmi visits the house at this time.
She is known to roam around during the night time and hence on the day of this puja, people keep their windows and doors open to welcome her. In many households, this is not just on the day of Lakshmi puja but on any regular day as well. Evening prayers are said, a small diya is lit and doors are kept open for the goddess to enter the house and bless the people.
On Lakshmi Puja, often one makes a print of her feet outside the threshold of their house along with a few steps inside to give the impression of her walking inside the house with her auspicious feet. The marks are either made with the help of a rangoli and adorned with Haldi kumkum (yellow & red turmeric) or red kumkum as they are considered very prosperous.
Lakshmi is the wife of the supreme god Vishnu. She is said to have taken many forms to be with him in each of his incarnations during Dashavatara. During his form as Rama, Lakshmi stood next to him as Sita. When he reincarnated himself as Vamana, she took the form of a beautiful lotus.
Lakshmi And Lotus
This takes us back to the beginning of the significant fight between gods and demons – “The Samudra Manthan” – Churning of the Ocean. Mount Mandara was used as a device to churn the ocean in hopes of attaining the ultimate treasures – Immortality (Amarta) from the ocean. When the ocean separated into two parts a lot of magical things were obtained including Kamdhenu (a cow that fulfils desires), Parijat Tree (Night Flowering Jasmine), Chandra (the moon), Apsaras (Celestial Nymph), Amrita (Nectar of Immortality) etc.
Amongst this was Goddess Lakshmi who came out with a lotus in her hand and seated on a lotus as well. She looked very beautiful and gave away a golden glow to the gods and the demons. She has four arms and is carrying a lotus in two of them. One of her hands is in Abhaya Mudra and the other in Varada Mudra, both giving out plenty of fortune and blessings to her followers. In many paintings, we can see that there are often one of two elephants behind her sanctifying her with water. She is seen sitting beside her husband, Lord Vishnu.
Eight manifestations of Lakshmi are considered in the Hindu culture which is known as Ashta Lakshmi. Adi Lakshmi, Dhanya (Grains), Veera (Courage), Gaja (Fertility, Rains), Santana (Continuity), Vidya (Knowledge & Wisdom), Vijaya (Victory) and Dhana (Prosperity and Fortune). When we speak of fortune and prosperity, it does not only mean in monetary terms but Lakshmi is the bestower of fortune in all forms like it is seen above. When a girl is born into a house or a bride enters it for the first time, it is said it is none other than Lakshmi who has entered their house and is blessing it with good fortune.