Don't Call Me Lakshmi, There Is More To My Identity Than bringing You Wealth

This Diwali, let us celebrate not just the Lakshmi in women but also the freedom and ambitions they embody. Let us celebrate womanhood existing in different forms. 

Rudrani Gupta
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woman, money, finance, woman money
As the Diwali festival knocks on our doors, the women in my house are put on a pedestal as Lakshmi and become auspicious for the success and well being of the house and business. In our family, that lives in Bihar, there is a ritual of worshipping miniature houses. You can read more about the custom here.

The custom is rooted in the idea that daughters are the embodiment of Lakshmi and their presence in the house is auspicious to earn more wealth. But what I could never wrap my head around is the fact that why should women's identity be limited to their auspiciousness in bringing wealth to the family? Why should a woman's identity be nothing more than being wealth and care provider? What about her own identity and choices? 

It is common in our society to wrap a woman's identity in something. Whether it is of wife, mother, sister or goddess. And each identity has different expectations. As a wife, a woman is expected to devote her life to supporting her husband. As a mother, she is expected to be the full-time nurturer of the child. As goddesses, women are expected to fit into the traditional idea of being sacrificial and '">good'.

But women are never accepted in the way they are. They are never perceived as women with choices, feelings, and desires. Women's choices are put on the back burner, the flames of which provide warmth to the traditional perception of womanhood. The perception conceives women as caretakers and not as someone who needs care.

It is because of this reason that women's health, desires, ambitions and happiness is not valued. Even today there is a gender gap in the patients that visit the hospitals. Women's health is not valued by family members and women themselves because seeking care is never perceived as a part of womanhood. Even today, women's desires, be it sexual or non-sexual, are not met and dismissed as unimportant. Ambitions of a woman are allowed to fly but at the nozzle of a gun that fires at the time when a woman is ready to marry. Women are expected to provide wealth but not earn that wealth. Even if some women are allowed to earn, their employment is not an influence but a fetter of feet. Their employment comes at the cost of their education, freedom to choose and desires.

For example, Pallavi Kumari of Dehri-On-Sone Bihar was pushed into the work of domestic help at a very young age. She hasn't even completed her 10th grade. Moreover, her mother married her off at the young age of 15-18 to get rid of the burden. The marital family had promised that they will pay for the education of Pallavi. But months have passed, Pallavi continues to work as domestic help with no connection with the school.

Even women's feelings and emotions are not valued. No one tries to understand that a woman can feel bad or sad. Especially if a woman is married, the expectation is that she should serve the entire family with a smile spread across her cheeks.


My mother lost her father in January this year. She was devastated by the loss and still cries over it. But as Diwali is approaching close, she is forced to fulfil the expectations of, shopping, cleaning, decorating and lighting the house since she is the Lakshmi of the house. But how is it fair? Don't women deserve to be expressive about their emotions? Don't women have the right to take an off from their duty as a wife, mother or goddess? Don't they have a life apart from these duties?

But in today's world, women no longer subscribe to the traditional ideas of womanhood. They want to soar heights, fly in the open and make new records. Women are reclaiming their identity and importance that certainly doesn't end at providing care to the family. Yes, it is true that even for an independent woman, it is important to serve the family's financial needs. But that is only a part of their identity that is as unique and multifaceted as colours on canvas. So this Diwali, let us celebrate not just the Lakshmi in women but also the freedom and ambitions they embody. Let us celebrate womanhood existing in different forms.

Views expressed are the author's own.

Diwali women's identity