For generations, many have worshipped Lakshmi as a ‘mother’ or ‘mata’: the female energy of supreme consciousness, the embodiment of grace, beauty, purity and prosperity.
Depicted as a beautiful and benevolent goddess, Lakshmi is commonly seen in Hindu homes through imagery that often shows the goddess draped in a bright red and gold saree holding an overflowing pot of gold, sat on a fully bloomed lotus that is flanked by a couple of white elephants.
The Worship of Lakshmi
Revered for the spiritual and material gifts she bestows on her devotees, millions of Hindus worship the goddess Lakshmi daily. Every Friday, thousands of Hindu women worship the goddess, seeking immeasurable blessings and good fortune. Regarded as a giver of wealth, knowledge, courage, and enlightenment, Lakshmi is a protector and preserver of life on Earth.
Although many households worship the goddess as a domestic deity every week, Diwali is the main religious festival dedicated to Lakshmi. According to legend, she bestows wealth and prosperity on devotees who sincerely and honestly worship her, not in greed; many also believe she resides where there is hard work, virtue and cleanliness. On the third day of Diwali, Hindus thoroughly clean their houses, adorn new clothes, prepare sweets, and decorate their houses with ‘diyas’ or earthen lamps.
An Auspicious Time for Lakshmi Pooja in 2022
Every year, Lakshmi Pooja falls on the new moon day (Amavasya), which mainly takes place in October during the five-day festival of Diwali. In 2022, Lakshmi Pooja falls on 24 October.
On Lakshmi Pooja, many Hindus buy precious stones, gold, silver and new utensils for their homes to invoke the blessings of abundance from the goddess. The most auspicious time for Lakshmi Pooja is in the evenings and during the sun’s passage through the Libra constellation, so the ‘muhurat’ or auspicious time for Lakshmi Pooja is between 7.26pm and 8.30pm. As Libra denotes balance, businesses often balance and close their accounting books before opening new ones.
The Iconography of Lakshmi
Depicted on a lotus flower in either the sitting or standing form, Lakshmi has four or two hands. When worshipped separately, she is shown with four hands: two hands hold a conch and a lotus, whilst the other two hands shower boundless wealth in the form of gold coins into the hands of worshipping devotees, and hold an ‘abhaya mudra’ (gesture). Lakshmi’s four hands represent four life goals: ‘dharma’ (righteousness), ‘artha’ (achievement of wealth), ‘kama’ (desires and love) and ‘moksha’ (liberation or enlightenment). When represented as Lord Vishnu’s consort, she is usually depicted with two hands, each holding lotus buds.
The Legend of Lakshmi
One of the most captivating stories in Hindu mythology is the rebirth of Lakshmi after the Churning of the Milky Ocean, which is a story that underlines how Lakshmi blesses good fortune and plenitude to those willing to work hard and sincerely. To bring back the goddess from the depths of the milky ocean and restore the power of gods to the world, the gods and the demons began churning the ocean. For more than 1,000 years, these two mighty powers continued to churn; finally, Lakshmi appeared. With her powers of fortune and success, the gods defeated the demons.
The Symbolism of Lakshmi
As Lord Vishnu’s consort, Lakshmi has the same powers as Vishnu, preserving and restoring order in the universe, and the goddess is the epitome of positiveness and energy. Physically, Lakshmi represents material wealth, beauty and health. Spiritually, she symbolises yogic powers and discipline. Mentally, she is the manifestation of strength, harmony and peace.
Why is Lakshmi Associated with Diwali?
According to scripture, Lakshmi has links to material and spiritual wealth. Even today, many believe the goddess bestows abundance and prosperity in the form of gold, so it is not surprising that most gold coins feature an image of the goddess. The earliest depiction of the goddess on a gold coin dates back to the Gupta dynasty (375–414 CE).
To celebrate and invite the goddess into their homes, Hindus often buy jewellery, either an ornament or a gold coin or bar, on Diwali or Lakshmi Pooja; many also perceive buying gold, particularly gold bars or coins depicting Lakshmi, as an auspicious beginning to a blessed and plentiful year.