Dhanteras is the auspicious beginning of the five days Diwali celebrations and is an extremely important day for the business community. It is mostly observed in the northern and western part of India, however gradually this ritual is being observed in all parts of India.
This festival is also known as Dhantrayodashi or Dhanwantari Triodasi, The festival is originally known as the Dhantrayodashi, arising from the words dhan, meaning wealth and trayodashi meaning the thirteenth day.
Thus this ritual is observed on the troyodashi of the Krishna paksha of the month of Karthick in the Amaavasyanta as per traditional Hindu calendar. According to the Gregorian calendar, this is observed in the month of November during the waning phase of the moon.
In 2019, the Dhanteras will be observed on the October 25th, Friday. On this day Goddess Laskshmi and Kuvera are invoked and worshipped.
Legend behind Dhanteras
Long time ago the 16 year old son of a king called Hima was predicted to die on the 4th day after his marriage by snake bite. His young bride equally worried on the 4th night, opened all her ornaments and heaped them on the doorway. She also placed a lighted lamp on that golden heap. She also lighted numerous lamps all over the room, and kept him awake by telling him stories and singing to him.
Yama, the God of Death arrived to take away Hima in the guise of a snake, but his eyes got dazzled by all the glitters of gold and the lights lit on the chamber. So he climbed up and sat on the top pf the heap of golden ornaments and silver coins. He also listened to stories and songs for the whole night and in the morning he silently went away without taking away Hima with him. This is how the intelligent wife defeated death and saved her husband.
In another tale Dhanwantari, the physician of the Gods had come up while the churning of the sea or the Samudra Manthan on this day carrying the elixir of the Gods, the Amrita.
In another tale on this day, Goddess Parvati was playing dice with Lord Shiva on this day and since then it is a ritual to play dice on this auspicious day.
Traditions of Dhanteras
The day before Dhanteras, the commercial establishments are all cleaned and , renovated and decorated. Rangoli and beautiful entrance gates are made to make the patrons feel welcome. Rangolis and small foot prints of Goddess Lakshmi are made all over the floors with rice paste and vermillion. Lots of lamps are kept aglow throughout the night.
Dhan Lakshmi puja is performed in the evening with small clay lamps lit and the bhajans or devotional songs sung for the Goddess Lakshmi. Sweets are offered as naivedya or offerings to the Goddess. In Maharashtra the dhan or dry coriander seeds are ponded and mixed with jiggery for being offered to the Goddess.
Lord Kuber, the treasurer of the Gods is also worshipped on this day, as he is believed to be bestowing wealth and riches and worshipping both Dhan Lakshmi and Kuber is doubly auspicious.
This is also known as Yamadeepdaan, as the ladies of the house light lamps all over the house to ward off Lord Yama, the God of Death. Thus it is believed to protect their husbands and all ward off related obstacles from their paths.
Celebrations of the Dhan Teras
Dhanteras is celebrated with a lot of fanfare and enthusiasm. People wear new clothes and adorn jewelries. They also do a Dhan Lakshmi puja and Kuber Puja by lighting small earthen diyas or lamps in the house. There is the tradition of buying jewelries of gold and silver, or silver coins and utensils as it is considered to be auspicious. People flock to jewelry shops on this day to buy jewelries. People also light what is considered to be the first lamps of the upcoming Diwali. Some people also engage in friendly gambling and keep awake in the night.