The month of Oct. & Nov. is packed with celebrations for the Indians in a perfect ambience of nature which lets us enjoy the festivities fervor. We Indians belong to a colorful land, a myriad of traditions and cultures, so more or less these festivals act as a stress buster to beat the heat of day to day life.
The festival of Dhanteras is the first day of the celebration of festival of lights, Deepawali. It is celebrated on the thirteenth day of the Krishna Paksha in the month of Hindu Calendar, Karthik. It is also known as “Dhanatrayodashi” or “Dhanvantari Trayodashi”. The literal meaning of dhanteras is “Dhan” means wealth and “teras” stands for the 13th day of the month.
Dhanteras is a day of the celebration of wealth. It is regarded to be the festival of wealth and prosperity & believed that this festival brings in riches, good luck, light and prosperity Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped for prosperity & well-being & Lord Kuber, the God of assets and wealth is also worshipped on this day. It is a custom to buy metals on this day, emphasis is more on buying utensils & precious metals, though now all the festivals are commercialized and people indulge in spending on automobiles, gadgets and many things of household utilities have come under this bracket.
It is a belief that the Goddess Lakshmi visits the house to bless with wealth and prosperity and so in this festival, more emphasis is on cleaning houses, offices & surroundings. The main entrance of the houses and offices are decorated with flowers, lights and rangolis. An extensive puja is organized in all households where people worship Goddess Lakshmi with their purchase of the day.
There are many legends and myths associated with this festival Dhanteras.
King Hima & Yama:
There is an interesting story about the 16-year-old son of King Hima. His horoscope predicted his death by snake-bite on the fourth day of his marriage. On that particular day, his newly-wed wife did not allow him to sleep. She laid out all her ornaments and lots of gold & silver coins in a heap at the entrance of the sleeping chamber and lit lamps all over the place. Then she narrated stories and sang songs to keep her husband from falling asleep. The next day, when Yama, the god of Death arrived at the prince’s doorstep in the guise of a serpent, his eyes were dazzled and blinded by the brilliance of the lamps and the jewellery. Yama could not enter the Prince’s chamber, so he climbed on top of the heap of gold coins and sat there the entire night listening to the stories and songs. In the morning, he silently went away. Thus, the young prince was saved from the clutches of death by the cleverness of his new bride, and the day came to be celebrated as Dhanteras.. It is also known as ‘Yamadeepdaan’ as the ladies of the house light earthen lamps or ‘deep’ and these are kept burning throughout the night glorifying Yama, the God of Death.
Lakshmi and Vishnu
Once Goddess Lakshmi wanted to accompany Lord Vishnu to the earth during one of His visits. Lord Vishnu agreed to take her with him provided she will not will not look in the southern direction and fall for earthly temptations. But Goddess Lakshmi looked in the southern direction and she saw yellow mustard flowers and started dancing in the fields and decorated herself with the flowers. She fell for earthly temptations. Further south she saw sugarcane fields and started enjoying the sugarcane juice.
Lord Vishnu soon found out that Goddess Lakshmi had violated the conditions and said that now you will need to spend 12 years as laborer in the field of the person to whom the sugarcane and flowers belonged. With the arrival of Goddess Lakshmi as laborer the farmer became very prosperous. Twelve years passed and it was time for Goddess Lakshmi to return.
But the farmer was not ready to relieve a good laborer. So he offered Goddess Lakshmi more wages. But Goddess Lakshmi still wanted to leave; the farmer offered more things and this denial and offers continued. Finally, Goddess Lakshmi asked the farmer and his family to take a pilgrimage to Ganga River and they will decide on her future stay there on his return. Goddess Lakshmi also gave four small shells to the farmer to offer to Goddess Ganga. When the farmer was offering the shells to River Ganga, four hands came up and accepted the offering. Goddess Ganga then revealed that the woman at the farmer’s home is Goddess Lakshmi.
The farmer returned home happily realizing that it was Goddess Lakshmi who was staying in his house. He requested her not to leave. Goddess Lakshmi said that she cannot live on earth permanently and has to return. But she said that she will visit him on all Dhanteras day. She asked the farmer to keep the house clean and light and earthen lamp. The farmer said as directed by Goddess Lakshmi and he became very prosperous and people who came to know about the incident started performing the same ritual on Dhanteras day.
When the Gods and demons churned the ocean for Amrita or nectar, Dhanvantari (the physician of the Gods and an incarnation of Vishnu) emerged carrying a jar of the elixir on the day of Dhanteras.
The day pays homage to Lord Dhanwantari who is associated with Ayurveda and various healing practices for the good of mankind. On this day, there is a tradition of taking a holy bath at sunset, lighting a Diya lamp around ‘Tulsi’ plant and praying to Lord Yama for their well-being. On this day, people participate in ‘havan’ and also chant powerful mantras.
This day is regarded as the auspicious occasion to start a new venture, buying new car, starting new projects.
The houses and the business establishments are renovated and decorated with motifs of “Swastik” & other traditional motifs and Rangoli’s of various designs and colors adorn the entrance of the houses and place and lamps are kept lighted throughout the night. Devotional songs are sung in praise of Goddess Lakshmi and it’s believed that with cleaning and lighting the lamps, evil spirits are ward off and the Goddess of Wealth & Prosperity descend blessing all.
Wish You All A Very Happy Dhanteras! May God Bless You!
Happy Spending, Rejoice This Festival Indulging in Shopping.
On this auspicious festival,
May your life Shimmer with Silver,
Shine with Gold & dazzle like Diamond!
(Information gathered by my knowlege and inputs from web)