LAKSHMI: A Goddess Grows in Queens
Local Pilgrimages in Search of the Hindu Goddess of Fortune
Lakshmi is a very ancient goddess.
The tradition she hails from has rich scriptures, holy stories, ancient practices, and specific prescriptions for worship. There are so many different customs and symbols for honoring her. And she is also honored in many countries, regions, and cultures, each with its own approach.
In recent decades, millions of Hindus have immigrated to the United States and they have brought their religion and traditions with them. Hindu temples have sprouted up around the country and books and studies have been written about American Hinduism.
I've spent 25 years studying Hinduism. It has been a joy to partake in the ancient traditions offered by this faith. I have especially been blessed in my experiences of honoring and researching Lakshmi. I have learned so much about her over time that I felt called to put it into books, classes, and, more recently, an exhibit for my graduate program in Public History called Lakshmi Exhibit: A Goddess Grows in Queens.
I was born in Queens and lived in Manhattan for many years. When I moved back to the borough 21 years ago, the Hindu culture was still growing and but you still had to search to find Lakshmi beyond the local temple. I had to order books on Hinduism from India and goddess sightings here were rare.
Now, her image and presence abound.
Queens is so filled with the sights and sounds of Hindu worship. Colorful traditions have seeped into daily life. And, as it turns out, Lakshmi is all over the borough! She is celebrated not just on Diwali but throughout the year.
I have made dozens of local pilgrimages to find her and there are more to come. I am excited to share my research and journey in the forthcoming book, inspired by my exhibit, LAKSHMI: A Goddess Grows in Queens.