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Look Back: Goddess of Love, Venus, found her way as Goddess Lakshmi in Bengali households!

31 December, 2020 14:44:40
Look Back: Goddess of Love, Venus, found her way as Goddess Lakshmi in Bengali households!

During British era, rich residents of Kolkata developed a fetish for importing marble sculptures of Venus. Hindu widows thought Venus was a new powerful goddess, similar to Goddess Durga. Members of Young Bengal often floated novel interpretations of existing deities. They announced Venus was like Goddess Lakshmi who originated from the sea. Like her, Venus statutes arrived in the city across the sea. Goddess Lakshmi holds shells in her hand, while Venus was born in a sea-shell. 

Thus, Venus found a sanctity of sorts among traditional Hindus, who considered her as Lakshmi’s younger sibling. But a glance at her semi-nude sculpture was enough to scandalize locals. They were confused. After all, Venus originates in Greece, but her lascivious countenance and semi-nude posture could in no way impress natives to consider her as a goddess. Marble statutes of Venus were installed in the middle of sprawling gardens, in drawing rooms of rich aristocrats, on staircases, under springs or amid verdant nature. 

Venus became a symbol of aristocratic taste and initiated a mad scramble for procuring them. Some questioned if this demand had a connection to the babus’ sexual desire for the perfect, female nude body. By then indigenous businessmen decided to reverse the trend by venturing to the West to set up businesses. The fear of Kala-Pani could not deter these determined lot who even married European girls and settled abroad. So, it was imperative they showed respect and obeisance to the European Lakshmi and seek her blessings for their journey to the West. Thus, Venus sculptures were imported to India to homogenize the deity.

Even today, marble sculptures of Venus can be traced lying in complete negligence in some old mansion of the city.

Story Tag:
  • Maa Lakshmi, Goddess Venus

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