By Shweta Porwal
The term ‘Dhanteras’, “Dhan” denotes wealth, and Goddess Lakshmi is worshiped on this day to gain wealth, prosperity, and well-being. To mark the celebration of ‘Dhanteras’ the households along with the business premises are wonderfully decorated and adorned with colorful traditional “Rangoli” designs
Everyone throngs to the market to buy gold or ornaments in order to bring good luck in the form of wealth.
India is a land of vibrant colors and majestic festivities. Multiple celebrations and festivals are celebrated throughout the year, all around the nation. The traditions, the heritage, the celebrations are a major part of what defines our country and glorify India.
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One of the oldest celebrations is the ‘Dhanteras’ celebration. This ancient festival marks the beginning of the much-awaited and widely celebrated ‘Diwali’ festival. On the Hindu month of ‘Kartik’ i.e. October-November, the 13th lunar day of “Krishna Paksha” sees the pompous celebration of the auspicious ‘Dhanteras’. It is also referred to as the “Dhantriyodashi” or the “Dhanwantari Triyodashi”.
Meaning and the Traditions:-
In the term ‘Dhanteras’, “Dhan” denotes wealth. Goddess Lakshmi is worshiped on this day to gain wealth, prosperity, and well-being. ‘Lakshmi Puja’ is performed during the evening and according to Hindu myths- tiny “Diyas” (lamps) made of clay are brightly lit in order to drive away from the evil spirits! Following this day, the whole country gets illuminated with “diyas” on the occasion of the festivity till Diwali to ward off the evil from the earth.
On the day of ‘Dhanteras’, it is considered extremely auspicious to purchase silver or gold items and new articles or utensils. According to the Hindus, “Dhan” or wealth in the form of brand new gold or silver made items will usher good fortune in life! Therefore, along with the ritual of “Lakshmi Puja”, another important custom is buying ‘wealth’ on ‘Dhanteras’.
Legends and History:-
The celebration of the auspicious ‘Dhanteras’ has some legends behind it. One of them is the story of the son of King Hima. It is said that the prince was doomed that he would die of a snake bite on the 4th day of his marriage. To prevent that, the wife of the young prince lit up innumerable lamps all around the place and kept a myriad of ornaments and wealth designed in a heap while keeping the prince young with her melodious songs.
As ‘Yama’, the lord of death tried to enter in the disguise of a serpent in the prince’s chamber, he was blinded by the shimmer and dazzle of the brilliancy of the shining lamps and the wealth. He tried to approach further from the top of the heap but was mesmerized by the music and kept listening. The night passed and he had to go away without taking the prince. Since then, this very day came to be referred to as “Yamadeepan” and the lamps are kept burning bright all through the night in reverential admiration of the lord of death.
Preparations and Celebrations:-
To mark the celebration of ‘Dhanteras’ the households along with the business premises are wonderfully decorated and adorned with colorful traditional “Rangoli” designs. To indicate goddess Lakshmi’s arrival and decorate the houses tiny footprints are painted with vermilion powder and rice flour.
Devotional songs are sung and brightly lit lamps are kept to burn through the night. “Naivedya” of sweets are offered to the goddess. Maharashtra observes the custom of offering coriander seeds with jaggery as the “naivedya”. Everyone throngs to the market to buy gold or ornaments and the festival is celebrated with vigor and spirit.
This year, the festival is on 12 November and about to be celebrated with pomp and spirit.
The right timings and Muhurat for the festival of Dhanteras start by 9:30 P.M on November 12 and end at 05:59 A.M on 13 November.
‘Dhanteras’ heralds the famous ‘Diwali’ and the day of ‘Dhanteras’ keeps on being one of the glamorously celebrated, much-awaited, and adored festival of India.
(The article was originally written in October 2016 and is re-edited on 12 November 2020)