She is the serene one, seated on a full-blown lotus, holding the secret to prosperity, wealth and peace in her four hands. She appears, draped in a red saree, magnificent and glittering with golden jewellery. This symbolic representation is a part of Hinduism, and Lakshmi is the Goddess who holds all these meanings in her divine form. Hailed through centuries of worship, she is also associated with the quiet majesty of a full moon night.
In the world of popular imagination, this Hindu benign Goddess, gracious and large-eyed, has come to occupy an important role. The many meanings with which this particular Goddess is involved, also includes focus. This is actually the ancient meaning of her name, which comes from ‘Lakshya’, meaning goal. She is a goddess of the night, her form illumined against a dark backdrop. As the revealer of wise gold, she carries golden coins in one hand. Like other Hindu deities, she is also associated with a ‘vahana’ or an animal which carries her form. Mysteriously and enigmatically, her ‘vahana’ is white owl. In cultures across the world, a white owl is a symbol of esoteric spirituality and wisdom. It could also be that once upon a time, this goddess was worshipped for her wise counsel in a dark time. In traditional Sanskrit ‘shlokas’ or chants, she is described as radiant, fair and eminently feminine. There are many myths and folklore connected to her silent and peaceful presence in a household.
Many Hindu homes have artwork and small handcrafted objects associated with the goddess of wealth. These art and craft objects often have their origin in the ancient village setting of India. Carrying a grain of rice in one hand, this Goddess shows the true place of her origin, the lush paddy fields of rural India. The many objects associated with her worship are made of eco-friendly substances like bamboo or earth. The figure of this Goddess is often painted on elegant round earthen plates, in bright vegetable dyes. The Goddess also appears in the traditional gold leaf intricate paintings associated with the Tanjore school of painting.
Decorative motifs celebrate this Goddess in many ways in a domestic setting. The home is the centre of peace and harmony, and this centre is held in place by the seated figure of the Goddess of wealth. When she is worshipped, patterns are often drawn on the floor with rice powder. These traditional patterns, known as ‘rangoli’ are beautiful and impermanent works of art. The ‘padchinha’ or the dainty foot impressions of the goddess find a central place in the floor designs. The significance of the foot impressions is that the family is inviting the goddess to rest at their place, and shower all with her bounty and peace. This theme is expressed by painting the feet impressions right from the entrance of the house up to the traditional worship room, in Hindu households.
Associated with fruitfulness and household prosperity, Lakshmi continues to be worshipped, with differences of ritual practices, in different parts of India.
The author of this article is associated with Exotic India, a one stop destination for a wide range of Indian artworks. For further details, log into exoticindiaart .com.