Deepa Lakshmi

lakshmi Deepa

This Deepalakshmi is about 30 cm in height and it is from South India, and  most likely, from  Andhra Pradesh.Lakshmi Deepa side

A fully decorated deity is standing on an elephant while holding a receptacle for oil and an oil container (Some balancing act there). The five-hooded Cobra giving her protection, indicates it is a deity. She standing in Samapada, without any bend, unusual for a female deity. The elephant is also decorated and is ready for a royal procession. But for the elephant’s trunk and its tail, there is no movement in  this Vigraha.Lakshmi Deepa back

The back view shows the deity’s plaited hair. The Cobra’s body seems to merge with the plaited hair.

According to the book Flames of devotion – Oil lamps from South and Southeast Asia and the Himalayas, page 43  “Lamps of this type depicting Lakshmi on the back of an elephant are often given to newlywed, daughter-in-law, at festival time to ensure fertility”.

Though called Deepalakshmi and worshiped as a deity, it is not necessarily Lakshmi, the consort of Vishnu.  Deepalakshmi can found in Saivite and Vaishnavite temples.

This may not date  earlier than the twentieth century.

31 Aug 2020:  Since I posted this, a couple of my dealer-friends pointed it out to me this is made using sand casting and newer ones are available. My post was meant to show an example of living traditions. The cultural practices associated with this Deepalakshmi  makes it ‘blog-worthy’.

17 Set 2020: One of the Facebook follower, Shiva Ram, has this comment ” This is a aanai vilakku, (Elephant Lamp) it is presented by brother to the bride at wedding, every kharthigai depam (A multi-day festival in Tiruvannamalai Temple) celebration the brother sends some money for the oil to light it and the sister prays for the prosperity of the birth place (Family) and living place (present family). The set consists of to other smaller elephant lamp too.” Italics bold is my addition.

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