Dhanteras is on 13 November 2020.
Dhanteras or Dhantrayodashi marks the first day of Diwali, one of the biggest festivals of Hindus in India. The word “Dhanteras” itself explains the meaning of the festival. Dhan refers to wealth and teras means thirteenth, since this auspicious day falls on the 13th day of the dark fortnight in the Vikram Samvat Hindu calendar during the month of Ashwin.
On this day, deities who are usually related to wealth are worshipped which include goddess Lakshmi and lord Kubera. However, Dhanteras is also thought to be the birthday of Dhanvantari. He was the vaidya of the gods. Dhanvantari is considered to be the founder of Ayurveda and the first teacher of all the physicians in the world and the deity of health.
It is also believed that Lakshmi came out of the milk of the sea on this day and that’s why Lakshmi Pooja is performed and this festival became associated with wealth.
Why Do Indians Celebrate Dhanteras?
Different rituals are performed on the auspicious occasion of Dhanteras and all these rituals have different meanings but usually they have been related to wealth and prosperity. Worship of goddess Lakshmi is thought to bring wealth to the family. Oil lamps are lit all around the house which is thought to keep the evil away.
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This day is also an auspicious day to start a new business, buy new gold or silver jewellery or even electronics for the house. Buying gold and silver jewellery is a popular custom which is believed to bring good luck to the household.
Historical Significance Of Dhanteras:
There are many fascinating legends surrounding the origin of Dhanteras. One of the legends, which is very popular among Hindus, narrates the story of the son of the King Hima. According to it, right after the birth of the prince, the king was told that his son was destined to die on the fourth day of his marriage from a snake bite.
The prince grew up and was eventually wed to a beautiful princess. Soon after the wedding, his wife came to know about his destiny and she was determined that anyhow she had to save the life of the prince.
When the fourth day of their marriage arrived, she collected a huge pile of glittering gold and silver jewellery and placed it at the chamber door. Then she lit oil lamps all over the palace and started narrating interesting tales to the young prince to prevent him from falling asleep so that they both could stay vigil.
When the snake came, he was perplexed by the luminance of the lamps and the glitter of the jewellery and could not enter the chamber of the prince. He heard the princess narrate interesting tales so he simply sat on a heap of gold coins and listened to the stories throughout the night and went away in the morning.
Hence, due to the wit and determination of the princess, the life of the prince was saved and that’s why this day came to be celebrated as Dhanteras and buying and wearing gold jewelleries and lighting oil lamps became an important ritual during this festival.
Another legend says that Dhanvantari, the God of Ayurveda and an incarnation of lord Vishnu, took birth during the samudra manthan, which was the period during which the gods and the demon were fighting for the amrit, that originated from the churning of the ocean. The ritual of Lakshmi puja on Dhanteras could be inspired from the mythology of goddess Lakshmi and Lord Indra.
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Modern Day Dhanteras Celebrations:
Indians celebrate this day to mark the beginning of the festival of Diwali. Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped by the devotees with utmost devotion and dedication. The whole house gets cleaned and decorated. Traditionally, only diyas were used to decorate the house during Diwali but now-a-days a huge variety of items occupy the home decor list, including fancy electric lamps, colourful scented candles and fairy lights. However, the practice of lighting traditional oil lamps is still prevalent among many households though it is becoming less popular with the arrival of modern electronic items in the market, especially in urban areas.
Another important cultural ritual is the making of the splendid art form, Rangoli. These are made to decorate the whole house and especially the area of the worship of the goddess Lakshmi. Beautiful designs depicting flowers, leaves, auspicious symbols, etc. are made using brightly coloured sand or rice dust, creating a vibrant masterpiece.
People leave no stone unturned to make themselves and their houses look like the best possible version. All Indian houses are made to look like a heavenly place. Even a poor person doesn’t hesitate to spend some money in order to decorate their little houses with whatever they can afford. The entire city lights up with people having fun in festive joy. Usually on this day, people have a homely celebration within their house, performing pooja and going to parties or exchanging gifts is kept for the remaining four days of Diwali.
Hindus believe that this worship brings wealth to their families and this is why it is often a very important celebration for the business class people. Today, the day is marked by lucrative offers from jewellery shops, car showrooms, furniture shops, and electronic household products. These businesses garner huge profits on Dhanteras every year.
It is also a common day for people to start new businesses as it is believed that starting on the auspicious day would bring good luck to the business. Dhanteras lights up the spirit of every person, rich or poor, who looks forward to a new beginning.
What To Buy On Dhanteras?
People usually buy many things during Dhanteras and the most common includes gold and silver. It is said to bring good luck and prosperity to the family. People also invest in gold coins or bars. Brass and silver utensils are also commonly bought on this day. Even household or personal electronic items like laptops, phones or refrigerators, etc. are bought.
Buying a broomstick is believed to keep off poverty from the house. Buying items related to one’s profession is also considered good. Another auspicious thing commonly bought is a gold coin with the image of Goddess Lakshmi which is worshipped and later kept in a treasure chest. Automobiles can also be bought but payment is usually not made on this day for these products.