Lakshmi is the name of a female Hindu deity, the consort of the god Vishnu (q.v.). According to the mystical doctrine of the worshippers of Vishnu, this god produced the three goddesses Brahmi, Lakshmi, and Chandika, the first representing his creating, the second his preserving, and the third his destroying energy. This view, however, founded on the superiority of Vishnu over the two other gods of the Hindu triad-Brahmi or Saraswati being generally looked upon as the energy of Brahma, and Chandika, another name of Durga, as the energy of Siva-is later than the myth, relating to Lakshmi, of the epic period; for, according to the latter, she is the goddess of Fortune and of Beauty, and arose from the Ocean of Milk when it was churned by the gods to procure the beverage of Immortality, and it was only after this wonderful occurrence that she became the wife of Vishnu. When she emerged from the agitated milk-sea, one text of the Ramayana relates, " she was reposing on a lotus-flower, endowed with transcendent beauty, in the first bloom of youth, her boly covered with all kinds of ornaments, and marked with every auspicious sign. ... Thus originated, and adored by the world, the goddess, who is also called Padma and Sri, betook herself to the bosom of Hari-i.e. Vishnu." A curious festival is celebrated in honor of Lakshmi on the fifth lunar day of the light half of the month Magha (February), when she is identified with Saraswati, the consort of Brahma, and the goddess of learning. In his treatise on festivals, Raghunandana, a great modern authority, mentions, on the faith of a work called Samwatsara-sandipa, that this divinity is to be worshipped in the forenoon of that day with flowers, perfumes, rice, and water; that due honor is to be paid to inkstand and writing-reed, and no writing to be done. Wilson, in his essay on the Religious Festivals of'the Hiindus ( Works, ii, 188 sq.), thus describes the celebration: "On the morning of the 2d of February the whole of the pens and inkstands, and the books, if not too numerous and bulky, are collected, the pens or reeds cleaned, the inkstands scoured, and the books, wrapped up in new cloth, are arranged upon a platform or a sheet, and strewn over with flowers and blades of young barley, and that no flowers except white are to be offered. After performing the necessary rites... all the members of the family assemble and make their prostrations-the books, the pens and ink, having an entire holiday; and, should any emergency require a written communication on the day dedicated to the divinity of scholarship, it is done with chalk or charcoal upon a black or white board." There are parts of India where this festival is celebrated at different seasons, according to the double aspect under which Lakshmi is viewed by her worshippers. The festival in February seems originally to have been a vernal feast, marking the commencement of the season of spring.

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