Lakshmi is the Goddess of beauty and fertility. In this aspect she is called 'Soundarya' or beauty 'Lakshmi' or the Goddess of wealth, who blesses one with beauty. Lakshmi is always beautiful and only likes all things beautiful. Beauty is both an inward and outward concept. External beauty can never be complete without a beautiful inner nature.
To make the cosmos more fertile so that it keeps regenerating itself, Lakshmi creates attraction or 'rijhana' between male and female through beauty. She blesses women with the power of beauty so that they may always be attractive to their husbands.
The Story of Rati:
Lord Brahma's daughter Rati was a very simple looking girl and it was becoming exceedingly hard for her to find a befitting suitor. In her sadness she turned to Goddess Soundarya Lakshmi, and devoted herself in her prayers. The Goddess gave Rati the knowledge of 'solah sringar' or sixteen ways of beautifying oneself. Armed with the knowledge, Rati, beautified herself and became one of the most beautiful woman in the three worlds.
Soon, the God of Love, Kamdev or Manmatha, Goddess Lakshmi's son, took Rati as his beloved wife. Together, they lived a life of love, joy and splendor.
The Story of Sudama's wife:
Sudama was a very poor Brahmin. In his childhood he was friends with Lord Krishna. Both of them received their education from the same guru and were fast friends. After they completed their education, Lord Krishna became a king and Sudama begged for alms to make both ends meet.
Sudama's wife was a simple, hard working woman and after seeing the poverty stricken condition of her children and husband sent Sudama to meet Krishna. She gave Sudama a fistful of 'chura' or beaten rice as present.
Lord Krishna met Sudama with great affection and thoroughly enjoyed the delicious present Sudama had brought. He endowed Sudama with great wealth and fortunes. Happily Sudama left for home to see his wife and children.
Meanwhile, Goddess Lakshmi visited Sudama's home and was deeply saddened to see his wife's and children's condition. She told Sudama's wife that soon her husband will be coming home bringing great wealth with him.
(This divine scene is taken from the TV serial ‘Sri Krishna’. This is where the Goddess Lakshmi bestows the boon of eternal youth to Vasundhara, Sudama’s wife. This beautiful video is powered by YouTube. The video is in Hindi..)
The Goddess then revealed how she had come to beautify Sudama's wife and children, so that they may receive Sudama in a manner that a wealthy man must be welcomed. She blessed Sudama's wife with 'Chir Yovan Awastha' or eternal youth so that she may always be beautiful and youthful for her husband. The Goddess also blessed Sudama's wife with the knowledge of 'solah sringar', so that she may always be beautiful and well dressed.
The 'Solah Sringar':
The 'Solah Sringar' are the sixteen ways of beautifying oneself. Goddess Lakshmi is the embodiment of beauty and women every where are a reflection of Ma Lakshmi's image. All women should therefore, invite beauty, inner and outer, in their lives and be as beautiful as they can be always.
1* Arms must be adorned with bangles, bracelets, armlets, watches.
2* Anklets of silver with little bells should adorn pretty feet.
3* Hair should be oiled, styled, neatly decorated with dazzling pins, clips, combs.
4* Toe rings should be used to decorate the toes.
5* The neck should be decorated with necklaces, small and big made of gold and pearls.
6* The eyes should be decorated with kohl.
7* Earrings should adorn the side of her face.
8* The waist should be emphasized with 'cummardhani' or bejeweled belts.
9* A red and gold saree should be draped on her feminine figure.
10* A 'bindi' or dot on her forehead should bring attention to her lovely face.
11* The body must be smooth and perfumed.
12* Bright and fragrant flowers should be used to decorate one's hair.
13* Henna patterns should decorate her hands, arms, and legs.
14* A 'paan' or betel leaves should be chewed to give her red lips and fresh breath.
15* Nose pins or nose rings should add beauty to one's face.
16* A black beauty spot on her face near the lips would add to her attraction.