Lakshmi The Goddess of Good Fortune
Lakshmi is the consort of Vishnu and the goddess of wealth and good fortune. She normally has four arms when worshipped on her own, but has two when shown with Vishnu. She may hold a lotus in each of her upper hands. Gold coins can be seen dropping down from the palms of her lower two hands or one of them may be in a boon-giving posture. She is normally painted in a bright golden colour and is shown seated or standing on a lotus. In paintings she is sometimes shown with two elephants, half submerged in water, one on each side. Lakshmi was born from the churning of the oceans by the gods for ambrosia.
Lakshmi is also associated with beauty and is one of the most popular Hindu female deities. It is likely that, because of the underlying human desire for wealth, she absorbed a large number of folk elements during her evolution into a widely accepted member of the pantheon. Some of these may be discerned in the qualities attributed to her as Vishnu’s wife in several of his incarnations. As Sita (Rama’s wife) she was said to have been born from a furrow, showing her link with agriculture. This symbolism is again emphasized when she is called Earth (Dharani) the wife of Vishnu.
Diwali, the festival of lamps (October-November), is associated with Lakshmi and is celebrated all over India. During the festival, little lamps are lit all over the house in the belief that wealth (Lakshmi) will not enter a house if it is dark. Every city, town and village is turned into a. fairyland with thousands of flickering oil lamps and electric lights illuminating the homes. This is also the time when all the houses are thoroughly cleaned and freshly painted, rice-flour designs are made on the doorsteps and crackers burst by children. The new commercial year for Hindu businessmen begins with Diwali.