With an estimated population of 4.5 billion, Asia is incredibly diverse in all aspects of culture. Despite the variety of customs, throughout the continent, there is a generally strong belief in rituals and traditions which can bring about good luck. We look at two of the most widespread symbols of luck and fortune from Asia’s two most populated countries.


  • Lakshmi

Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth, fortune, power, beauty, fertility and prosperity in Hinduism and is one of the principal goddesses in the Hindu pantheon.

The goddess is also represented in Buddhism, as either Gong De Tian (‘Meritorious god’) or Jixiang Tiannu (‘Auspicious goddess’) in Chinese Buddhism, or as Kisshoten (‘Auspicious Heavens') in Japanese Buddhism.

She is depicted with four hands, representing the four aspects of human life which are central to the Hindu belief system: dharma, kama, artha, and moksha. Artha can be translated as “sense”, “goal”, “purpose” or “essence”, depending on the context but all relating to the “means of life”, including financial and career prosperity and security. Therefore, Hindus that are seeking to improve their financial situation or career prospects often turn to Lakshmi.

There are eight manifestations of Lakshmi, with Dhana Lakshmi representing wealth, prosperity and abundance, this representation includes gold coins flowing from the deity’s palms or from a gold pot.

Another important symbol in Lakshmi’s iconography is the lotus flower. As the lotus can bloom in either clean or dirty water, this shows that prosperity can bloom regardless of the difficult circumstances.  To appease Lakshmi, Hindus decorate their houses with lotus flowers, particularly during the religious festival of Lakshmi Pooja on the third day of Diwali. Another part of the pooja (ritual) includes offerings of bhog (food) including coconuts, bananas, puffed rice and sweets.

As part of the pooja, a swastika symbol is drawn on the safe in which the devotee keeps their valuables, as a symbol of Lord Kubera, the god of wealth. The swastika is a religious symbol in Hinduism which can also be found in other ancient cultures from around the world. Prior to being adopted by the Nazi party, the swastika was a common good luck symbol in Europe.

Lakshmi is often depicted alongside elephants, which are animals associated with royalty, prosperity and good fortune.

  • Ganesha & Elephants

Elephants are revered in many cultures, from Africa to Asia.

Buddhism, which originated in India and expanded across Asia, holds elephants in particularly high regard. According to legend, before she gave birth, Buddha’s mother, Maha Maya, dreamt of a white elephant with six tusks, which descended from heaven holding a lotus flower, and entered her womb through her right side.

In the Chinese practise of Feng Shui, elephant imagery invites good luck and fortune into the home. Elephants can be placed at the at the entrance door to invite positive energy or near your desk for more luck in your career.

One of the most revered gods in Hinduism is Ganesha, the elephant god. His image is ubiquitous around India and can be found on statues, pendants, necklaces, key fobs and decorations all over the country and in millions of homes.

Offerings to Ganesha include durva grass and laddu sweets, which are balls of flour, fat and sugar.

One of the most popular Hindu festivals is Ganesh Chaturthi, which lasts 10 days. On the last day, there are public processions which carry idols of Ganesha into a nearby body of water such as a river or into the sea. In Mumbai alone, it is estimated that around 150,000 statutes of Ganesha are immersed into the sea, rivers and lakes.


  • Budai

Not to be confused with Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism.

Budai was a Chinese monk who is popularly known as the ‘Laughing Buddha’ or the ‘Fat Buddha’ in the Western world. He is depicted as a fat, bald monk, wearing a simple robe and a cloth sack, with his belly exposed and a jovial expression.

A common belief is that rubbing his belly daily will bring good fortune.

The way Budai is depicted in the statue, the colour of the statue and where it is placed in your house can all have different meanings according to Feng Shui

Green jade is connected to vitality and growth, whereas stone or brown wood is connected to the earth element and represents nourishment, stability and grounding.

Red represents fire and is connected to passion, inspiration, and visibility.

Black represents the water element in Chinese culture, helping to invite fluidity, good luck and wisdom. A crystal Budai is also connected to wisdom.

A gold Budai is connected to wealth and prosperity, some statues include gold coins. This statue should ideally be placed in the ‘wealth corner’, which is located in the back left corner of your home or business.

  • Red Envelopes

Red is undoubtedly the most popular colour in China, symbolising fire and representing happiness, vitality and good luck.

On special occasions, especially New Year, beautifully decorated red envelopes with money inside are given out amongst family and friends to send good wishes.

The tradition is said to have originated from a New Year’s legend about a demon named Sui that would pat the heads of sleeping children, keeping them awake and giving them a high fever. On New Year’s Eve, parents would try to keep their children awake so that they would not be terrorised by Sui. One year, a child was given eight coins to play with which the child later wrapped in red paper and placed under his pillow. These coins emitted a strong light when Sui tried to harm the child and scared the demon away. The eight coins are believed to be the Eight Immortal beings of Chinese mythology, called ‘xian’, which can be considered as wizards, genies or celestial beings. In China, red envelopes are called ‘ya sui qian’, meaning 'money to suppress Sui (the demon)’.

There’s a certain etiquette which should be upheld when giving and/or receiving a red envelope.

It’s important to slip a crisp, new bill, into the envelope. Dirty or wrinkled bills are considered bad taste. Avoid amounts with the number ‘4’ as ‘4’in Chinese sounds like the Chinese word for ‘death’ and is considered bad luck. On the other hand, the number 8 is said to bring good luck.

When receiving a red envelope, make sure to use both hands as it is impolite to accept things with just one hand. You should also express your gratitude and say a traditional phrase such as ‘happiness and prosperity’ and do not open the envelope Infront of the person who gave it to you.


With the rise of the internet and especially with the widespread availability of instant messaging apps on mobile devices, sending electronic red envelopes has become commonplace, especially with people are not physically able to visit their relatives, whether due to travel restrictions or lockdowns.

The internet and the spread of smartphones has also enabled many Asians to partake in another very common pastime, gambling.

Gambling is widespread across Asia and hugely popular, the strong believe in luck and fortune which is deeply ingrained in Asian culture, is a significant factor in the popularity of gambling in Asia.

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Bear in mind that no matter how many times you rub the Laughing Buddha’s belly or how much bhog you offer to Lakshmi or Ganesha, your odds of winning the lottery will always remain the same.

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From beckoning cats to lucky frogs and even lucky Kit-Kats, there are far too many traditions and symbols to cover all of Asia in an article of this nature. Whether you chose to put faith in Asian rituals and good luck charms or decide to make the most of being able to bet on a wide range of games and lottos with Lottoland, may luck be on your side!
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