5. Build Lakshmi Altar or Shrine
Create a New Lakshmi Altar or Shrine
To help build a spiritual practice, it is important to have a sacred space devoted to Lakshmi. An altar or a shrine area can be a home base for private spiritual activity. It is like a little sacred space for prayers, rituals, and magic. Choosing images or icons of Lakshmi is the place to start.
Home shrines and altars are found in many Hindu households, and they are a wonderful way to keep a sacred space open to the Divine twenty-four hours a day rather than just making contact when you are in crisis. An altar can be a stable and fluid foundation for your spiritual practice. It can be something that is always there for you as a tool for your ongoing connection to Lakshmi. But you can change it, rearrange it, and wipe it clean when you want to start again.
Sometimes it just helps to look at collections of meaningful spiritual items that represent the goddess, the spiritual life you want to lead, and that make you feel hopeful.
The focal point should be the most cherished image or icon of Lakshmi that you have acquired. You can build a main altar just devoted to Lakshmi. Many people also have at least a small idol of Ganesh to keep her company and help remove obstacles. Over time, you may also want to add representations of other divine members of her support team by including her consort, Vishnu, or her partner, Kubera, and Tridevi friends, Saraswati and Parvarti/Durga.
Altars and shrines can be large or small, and you can have more than one. If you are short on extra space in your home or don't have privacy, your Lakshmi altar can be compact, placed on a shelf or desk, or kept in a tiny wooden home temple (called a mandir) with a closing door that you open only when you are sitting with the goddess. Deities are often kept in these mini mandirs as a place of honor; the door can be closed after worship so that they can rest.
As seasons change, and auspicious holidays arise, you may want to change the altar to connect with the energy of that time of the year—such as a special altar for Diwali or Navratri. You may feel called to abide by goddess celebration days, such as Fridays. Perhaps you will want to work with a specific cycle of the moon, or seasons. You can also just follow your intuition when designing or redesigning your altar or shrine. This sacred spot can be adjusted to address your needs at any particular time.
The best way to start an altar is to pick a space and clear and clean the area. Then, burn some incense or sage (which absorbs negative energies), or lightly sprinkle blessed water to make the space sacred. It also helps to cleanse your body in a shower or bath before organizing this sacred area.
Hindus worship sitting on the floor, without shoes, and altars that are low so offerings can easily be made. If that works for you, set up your space in that way, with a comfortable place to sit. It is also fine to position your altar on a tabletop, shelf, or elevated area and sit in a chair. Build an altar that is fitting for your spiritual practice, and that is meaningful to you.
A Lakshmi altar might include a foundation that is made of an altar cloth in Lakshmi colors, a Lakhmi or Hindu prayer shawl, or a sari material that is fitting for the Goddes. It should also include an icon or beloved image of Lakshmi in a frame. You might also think of including:
· Image or icon of Lord Ganesh
· Her sacred symbols would be a nice addition
· Candles in the colors red, pink, orange, green, and white
· Flowers, real or silk lotus are fine
· Lakshmi Deepa
· Bell or chime to ring before and after worship
· Incense holder and incense
· Items that relate to the goddess energy you want to call in, such as gold coins
· Sacred symbols like the Om or owl
· Items that represent protection, such as a tourmaline stone
· Written prayer to the goddess that is rolled up in a scroll
· Lakshmi necklace or temple jewelry to decorate or be blessed on the altar
· Items representing the four elements—air, fire, water, and earth
· Items representing the four directions—east, south, west, and north
· Something that represents the spirits of within, above, and below
· Something that represents your ancestors, like a photo of a beloved grandmother or mother
Additionally, you can include a photo you take of Lakshmi, or a selfie, with this goddess. Perhaps you can stand near her in a museum, a public statue, a sacred icon store, or at your own altar. Put your photo of her, or with her, in a frame and add it to your altar as a way to bless your relationship. It is another way to connect with her through her physical form.
You can periodically add things you would like blessed, such as checks before you deposit them, job applications, bills, photos of loved ones in need, and sacred items you would like to give as gifts.
Some experts in Hindu culture say that a home shrine icon should not be too large and never be the size of a temple icon. Large icons are sometimes honored in a separate shrine room. Whatever the size of the statue, you can also honor Lakshmi with symbolic gifts and offerings that are sometimes part of traditional worship services, such as lotus seeds, fruit, rice, beetle leaves, kumkum, and items related to special occasions.