For over a billion human beings, today is the holiest day of the year.
The goddess Lakshmi is the personification of beauty and prosperity. Born from an ocean of milk, she is a woman of golden complexion, sitting or standing on a full-bloomed lotus and holding a lotus bud, which stands for beauty, purity, and fertility. Her four hands represent the four ends of human life: dharma or righteousness, kama or desires, artha or wealth, and moksha or liberation from the cycle of birth and death. To Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs, today is her day, Lakshmi Pooja, the third day of the five-day festival of lights. On this day, Lakshmi showers the earth with health and prosperity.
For one young girl from the village of Bihar, India, today is a blessed day indeed. Lakshmi Tatma was born neither beautiful nor wealthy. She developed from two conjoined twins, with two bodies merged into one, and was born with 8 arms and legs. Many of the locals considered her holy, but her condition would not allow her to survive into adulthood. Her parents, poor laborers, could not afford the half-million-dollar surgery that was needed to extend her life. But the power of her namesake came to her aid, and this week 36 surgeons successfully performed a marathon operation to free her of her “parasitic” twin. Free of charge. Lakshmi Tatma awoke on Lakshmi Pooja as a beautiful young woman, to face a hard but hopefully prosperous life.
A miracle? Perhaps. But certainly worthy of a prayer on this, the holiest of days.