Tihar is celebrated for five days. On the third day, Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped for one’s well-being. Lakshmi, also referred to as Shree, is the goddess of wealth and happiness. However, many people erroneously take wealth for money. People don’t seem to understand the meaning of wealth. Wealth comes in many forms such as good health, good family, good friends, sharp intellect, one’s solid reputation, high status, set of skills, and so on. As the house, the car and a bank balance are one’s property, they too are one’s best assets, i.e. Shree. Money comes and goes like the fickle character of Lakshmi. She never stays in one place for a long period. If she does, then the economy would be stagnant. I am uncomfortable about individuals who see Lakshmi in the form of cash and never take the beautiful qualities of Lakshmi who stands for Shree.
Lakshmi is the Goddess of the rich and the poor. With her grace poor have become rich and the rich richer. So everyone needs Lakshmi regardless of one’s religious persuasion. That’s why even the Buddhists, the Jains and the Sikhs celebrate Diwali by worshipping Lakshmi. A photo of Lakshmi hangs in a shop no matter who owns it—a Hindu, a Buddhist, a Jain, a Sikh, a Christin or a Muslim. In that sense, she is pretty democratic—a goddess who is non-denominational, non-apartheid, non-segregationist and non-aligned, although having a Hindu origin.
During Lakshmi Puja I have seen individuals offering wads of cash displayed on a platter. Do we really think Lakshmi needs cash? Or will she be pleased if we offer loads of cash? Let us not forget that she is the goddess of wealth. Trillions of trillions of dollars, Euros, Rubles, Liras, Rupees, Bhats, Paseos, Yens, Dinars and so on are her money. So she has an infinite supply of money. Any large amount of money we offer to her is pittance. So why empty one’s bank account to fill the platter with large bills? To me the attempt seems fruitless, unless the individual is attempting to show off. Instead of getting pleased with the individual who offers a platter of dollars, Lakshmi is likely to leave the house as soon as she sees the cash. She is going to say to herself, “This individual doesn’t need my help. So I will go the next individual who does need my help.” So please be modest—don’t flash your cash—it could be counterproductive. All Lakshmi needs is our love, devotion and items that she really likes—fruits, flowers, and yes lots of sweets, all prepared by hand with love and care.