Dhanteras is the first day of the 5-day Diwali festival celebrated widely in India as well as other countries. It is also known as Dhanwantari Triodasi or Dhantrayodashi. This festival is observed on the 13th lunar day of Krishna Paksha in the month of Kartik (October/November) in Hindu calendar. In 2013,
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it will be celebrated on November 1. The meaning of the word “dhan” is wealth. So, on Dhantrayodashi, people worship Goddess Lakshmi so as to acquire wealth and prosperity.
Dhanteras Traditions and Celebrations
This festival is considered as an auspicious occasion by one and all. So, houses and offices are revamped and adorned prior to this festival. It’s the day when businessmen start their new accounting year. Whether it’s a house or an office, their entrances are decorated with colorful rangolis featuring various designs and traditional motifs. In households, small footprints of the Goddess are drawn with rice flour paste and vermillion powder. The rangolis and footprints of the Goddess are a way of welcoming Goddess Lakshmi who is expected to shower her divine blessings and bring wealth and prosperity to everyone. One of the popular traditions on Dhanteras is purchasing gold and silver jewelry or items. People also buy iron, brass, or copper utensils for their kitchen on this auspicious occasion. There is a common belief that the purchase of a precious metal will bring good luck and prosperity to one and all.
In the evening of Dhantrayodashi, Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped, and bhajans are sung in her praise. Small earthen lamps or diyas are lit as part of the Dhanteras celebrations. Electric lights are used to decorate buildings and office premises. It is believed that the glowing lights will brighten your home and help get rid of the evil from your life. A special custom on Dhanteras is to make an offering of traditional sweets known as “Naivedya” to Goddess Lakshmi. In Maharashtra, the “Naivedya” offered to the Goddess often includes dry coriander seeds and jaggery. Just like the towns and cities, Dhantrayodashi is observed with religious fervor and enthusiasm in villages as well. In villages, farmers worship their cattle, as they are the primary source of their income. In South India, cows are worshipped, as they are believed to be an incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi.
Legends of Dhanteras
One of the popular legends associated with this festival is that when the gods and demons tried to obtain nectar or “Amrit” from the ocean, they found Dhanvantari emerging with a
jar of elixir. Dhanvantari was an incarnation of Lord Vishnu and the physician of gods. The day when he brought the elixir is celebrated as Dhanteras. Another ancient story about the celebration of Dhantrayodashi speaks about how the 16-year-old son of King Hima avoided death even though it was mentioned in his horoscope that he would die by snakebite on the fourth day of his marriage. On that particular day, his wife didn’t allow him to sleep and blocked the entrance to their room with
gold and silver coins and ornaments. She also lit several lamps all around the room and started singing devotional songs. When the God of death, Yama reached there in disguise of a serpent, he couldn’t proceed further because his eyes got blinded by the glitter and sparkle of the ornaments and coins. All that he did was to climb on the heap of ornaments and coins and listen to the songs of Hima’s daughter-in-law. The next morning Yama simply left the place. This is how the young wife saved her husband’s life. Since that day, Dhanteras is celebrated as the day of “Yamadeepdaan”. On this day, people light diyas (earthen lamps) and make sure they keep burning all throughout the night. The purpose is to show their respect and admiration toward Yama. Dhanteras is an auspicious occasion and one that is believed to bring wealth and success to one and all. So, offer your prayers to Goddess Lakshmi on this festive occasion and seek her choicest blessings for a happy and prosperous life ahead.