In Orissa and Bengal, Lakshmi images include a white owl. In local belief, white owls have come to be associated with auspiciousness and good luck because of their association with the goddess. Who is this owl? Scriptures do not clarify.
Some say, Lakshmi rides the owl; others believe the owl simply accompanies her, while she rides on a elephant, the latter being a more appropriate vehicle for the goddess who is associated with wealth, power, and royal splendour.
Owls are solitary creatures, who sleep all day and prowl at night. Because of their nocturnal activity and screeching call, they have been associated with bad luck and death, leading to the conclusion that she is Alakshmi, Lakshmi’s elder twin, the goddess of strife and misfortune. But because of its round eyes that never move and stare straight ahead, the owl has been associated with wisdom . The term “lord with circular eyes” (Choka-dola) is used to refer to Jagannath, the form of Krishna-Vishnu worshipped in Puri, Orissa, leading to speculation that the owl actually represents Lakshmi’s consort, Vishnu. Favoring this line of thought, is the fact that in Hindu mythology, the vahana or vehicle of a deity is always male, not female. But the idea that Lakshmi would ride her own husband, though acceptable to feminists, is abhorrent to traditionalists. They insist that the owl accompanies the goddess; she does not ride it. If she does not ride the owl, then it could be either Vishnu, or Alakshmi. Read more of this post