Meet a Goddess: Lakshmi

Each of the three Gods in the trinity also has a female counterpart/wife/consort. Lakshmi is the wife of Vishnu. It is said that she is his strength and when Vishnu takes a body as an avatar, that Lakshmi becomes his consort on earth as well and that she is both  Sita and Radha.

You can often recognize Lakshmi in pictures by the gold coins pouring from her hands. She is the goddess of wealth, both material wealth and spiritual wealth. The lotus that she sits or stands on is a famous symbol of being in the world but not tainted by it. A lotus floats over water but its petals do not become wet. It stays clean even in dirty water. This symbol being associated with Lakshmi is a reminder to enjoy the wealth of the world but not become consumed by it.

She is one of the deities who is worshiped during Diwali, the New Year.

From Wikipedia:

Lakshmi is the embodiment of love, from which devotion to God or Bhakti flows. It is through Love/Bhakti or Lakshmi that the atma or soul is able to reach God or Vishnu. Lakshmi plays a special role as the mediator between her husband Lord Vishnu and His worldly devotees. While Vishnu is often conceived of as a stern, easily perturbed patriarch, Lakshmi represents a more soothing, warm and approachable mother figure who willingly intervenes in the lives of devotees on His behalf.

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  • Interesting as I begin to see where the religious value of gold in Hinduism comes from. See, gold is revered not just as adornment and savings for women (especially as part of her dowry upon marriage), but as symbolism. In classical Purāṇic Hinduism, Hiraṇyagarbha is a name of Brahmā, so called because he was born from a golden egg (wikipedia). Because of this, gold is considered pure and represents cleanliness and holiness. Look at your feet (if you wear toe rings) or that of other Hindu women – you will find that none wear gold toe rings on their feet, because feet touch the ground, which is dirty and would soil the toe rings, which deserves better than that. The lowest a Hindu woman would wear is around the ankle (I don’t know if some sects don’t even allow it there, but I don’t know enough about this).

    • Ambaa

      The rule I’ve always heard is no gold is worn below the waist. My toe rings are silver. Anklets that I see are silver.

      • Thank you. Is the jewelry down below ALWAYS silver, or is base metal like copper, brass, aluminum, etc. used for extremely poor folks? Silver is another important metal to Hindus, especially when westernized Indian Central Bankers force governments to impose gold import rules and duties to try to stem gold imports to lessen the current account deficits, which only leads to more smuggling in of gold around the government.

        • Ambaa

          That is a good question and I’m not sure! I hope someone else will provide some insight on that.