June 30th, 2008 by sabrina

Dhumavati is the Hindu Goddess of widows. She is one of the Mahavidyas, the wisdom Goddesses. Dhumavati embodies unsatisfied desires—she is always hungry and thirsty. She is one of the avatars of Parvati, Shiva’s mate. In one myth relating her origin, when Parvati was manifested as Sati, Shiva’s first wife, on one occasion she asked Shiva for some food because she was extremely hungry. Shiva refused to give her any food, so she ate him instead, widowing herself. Shiva persuaded her to spit him back up, and he cursed her to remain in the form of Dhumavati, the widow.

In another telling of her origin, Dhumavati is said to have arisen from the smoke when Sati immolated herself. Her eyes burn with the fire that consumed Sati. Dhumavati symbolizes the power of nature over all other forces, and the fact that death is inevitable. She is usually depicted riding in a chariot, on which crows or vultures perch. She is old and ugly, wearing a dress taken from a corpse. Dhumavati’s name means “the smoky one”, and other names for her include Jyestha, Daridra (poverty), Vidhava (widow), Nirrti (misery), and Alakshmi (misfortune).¬†

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2 responses about “Dhumavati”

  1. Liz Hazel said:

    Dhumavati is separate and different than Jyestha and Alakshmi. Dhumavati is specifically a widow. Jyestha was married and abandoned by her husband. Jyestha means “eldest” as she was the first thing born during the churning of the oceans. Her birth was preceded by the spreading of a virulent poison, so she was afterwards associated with bad luck, aka, Alakshmi. Lakshmi and Alakshmi are sisters, born during the same ocean-churning event. Dhumavati is quite a different goddess, although there are some similarities (the crow & broom are distinctive, but not conclusive).

  2. sabrina said:

    Thank you for the information, Liz. I do the best I can, but I find that especially with the Hindu Goddesses, sometimes it’s hard to tell where one ends and another begins.