Lakshmi’s New Head

The Mahalaxmi, otherwise known as Goddess Lakshmi, festival is a festival the within Ganesh Chathurthi festival (the ten day celebration of elephant headed God’s birthday). Mahalaxmi is celebrated in Maharashtra, celebrating the Goddess and Maharashtrian women.

Our recent marriage meant that it was necessary to buy new heads for the idols involved in this festival. Sounds strange right? When the eldest boy of the youngest generation gets married, his wife becomes the Mahalaxmi of the family, bringing the family wealth and prosperity. She also performs the Mahalaxmi pooja (prayer), my husband is the eldest boy, so that wife is me…

Before me, my mother-in-law took charge of the festival and has done for twenty seven years (because she is the eldest daughter in law of that generation). When she was a newly wed, new heads were purchased and now, twenty seven years later, Mahalaxmi will get another new face. These new heads will be used every year until our eldest son marries (this is the tradition in our family, I am sure there are many variations among other families who celebrate). So, I expect these new heads will be used for many many… many many years to come. I wanted to make sure they were perfect.

Ganesh beautiful ghost white

To get to the ‘Mahalaxmi head shop’, we  had to walk into a maze of Ganesh ghosts. Narrow alleys of workshops, craftsmen hard at work preparing for Ganesh Chathurthi. It was a surreal and beautiful experience, I had never seen so many pot bellies in one place. I am excited to return next week, once the painting starts (this time I will bring my camera, these photos were taken with my phone).Ganesh festival in Nagpurganesh no ears

I couldn’t help but smile when we arrived at one of the several Mahalaxmi head shops, which were hidden behind the huge Ganesh workshops. The heads sitting in rows look creepy at first, but then become comical. Anyone with a phobia of porcelain dolls (I do actually know of someone with pediophobia), would run a mile.

Goddess Lakshmi's HeadWe needed four heads in total, two large ones and two smaller ones. Mahalaxmi enters the house as two sisters, elder and younger, accompanied by a daughter and a son. My mother-in-law will dress the elder Mahalaxmi and I will dress the younger one and we will wear sarees to match our respective Mahalaxmi sister.

mahalaxmi heads in a row

ganesh ganesh
The shop also had loads of gorgeous Ganesh statues
modern and traditional Ganesh
Modern (very cute!) and traditional styles

There are so many outfit choices for the idols, you can also get lots of jewelry including mini bangles, nose rings, necklaces and mangalsutras. The little girl in me is really excited about this.

lakshmi head party

The idols have a metal base, acting as a body, which will be filled with grain as a symbol of fertility and prosperity (mice have been known to make Mahalaxmi their temporary home because of this). The top half of her body is placed on top and finally the head is balanced on top of that.

lakshmi finished orange saree
A fully put together Mahalaxmi, next to a metal base body which will contain grains

body clothes lakshmi

Choosing a new face for Mahalaxmi was not difficult, even though they all looked quite similar. The one I chose looked exactly how I imagine Mahalaxmi would look, a soft face with big dark eyes. She kind of ‘spoke’ to me.

What do you think of her (on the right)?

old and new head of lakshmi
The old face on the left (27 years old) and the new face on the right.
mahalaxmi sisters marathi pooja
Here is last years Mahalaxmi celebration, I was still living in England at this point…

There will be lots of rituals, traditions and food during the Mahalaxmi festival. I am excited to learn more about this festival, especially as I will be playing a big part in it as the eldest daughter-in-law. The three day festival starts early next month, wish me luck!


    • It’s the eldest in the whole extended family, but if their are still no female wives, I guess the eldest unmarried daughter (as the married daughters would be with her husband’s family) and her mother would do it. This is what I presume to be true.

      I think that the daughter in law becoming the Lakshmi attempts to ensure the new member of the family is respected.



      • A couple more questions, if that’s okay! As it is the wife of the eldest son in the extended family, does this mean that the extended family will all gather together for this celebration? And in subsequent years, assuming you are living in another city with your husband, would you be expected to return to his parents’ house (or would it be his grandparents’ house) in order to perform the pooja at this festival?

        This particular post really gives meaning to the title of your blog: English wife, Indian life!


      • Hey Nicola,
        Yes, the whole of the paternal side of my husband’s family will be coming to our house and when we move away, it will be at our new house. But, we have a plan to move to South India so it would probably be more practical to come here because the family (including grandparents) live in villages around Nagpur.

        I hope you are well! 🙂

        Lauren xxx


  1. In our community we only bring small stones from well or lake and worship them as Goddess of wealth. The thought is wealth is near the fresh water source. Like ours many Maharashtrian families do that, Traditional story of festival will talk about it. Please ask your Mom in Law


  2. I have never know about it . Good to know about the unique traditions. As always in Hindu tradition, I feel they give value to male so much that if a family doesn’t have one, there is nothing written as alternative. I know in Nepal as well, there are some traditions, they need son to perform and if they don’t have one, they prefer nephews or other male relatives than their own daughter which annoys me a lot.


    • Hey, thank you for your comment.
      Yes, this is why I love the sound of this festival so much, it is all about celebrating the women in the family, especially welcoming in the new ones. I hope that slowly Hindu culture will evolve with the times, like it has with other aspects, and treat boys and girls the same!

      I hope you guys are well! Lots of love xxx


  3. Hi, Lauren I just love your blog. I am regular reader of your blog. It is amazing how you set/adjust in our Indian culture. I am sure your enjoying here. God bless u!!


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