Importance of Dhanteras
The name Dhanteras is derived from the word dhan, which means wealth. This festival is also known as Dhantrayodashi or Dhanwantari Trayodashi and usually falls two days before the famous festival of lights, Diwali. Dhanteras is celebrated by the merchant community of Western India, especially by the goldsmiths.
Time of Dhanteras celebrations
Dhanteras is celebrated every year on the thirteenth lunar day of Krishna Paksha, which falls in the Hindu month of Kartik. This festival generally falls in the month of October/November as per English calendar. Dhanteras thus marks the beginning of the five-day celebration of Diwali.
[caption id="attachment_1716" align="alignright" width="250" caption="Made from Bamboo, and fixed with starch, thread, the traditional Indian lanterns are in great demand, especially during the festival of Diwali and Dhanteras."][/caption]
How Dhanteras is celebrated
On this day, people renovate and decorate their houses and business premises. Colorful and brilliant traditional motifs of rangoli are drawn at the entrances as a sign of welcome to the gods and goddesses of wealth and prosperity. Lamps burn all through the night and small footprints are drawn all over the house to signify the arrival of the goddess. As a mark of celebration of wealth and prosperity, people buy gold, silver, and utensils on this auspicious day. Evening is the time of elaborate pujas and earthen lamps or diyas are lighted to keep away the evil spirits. Devotees sing religious songs or bhajans.
Legends associated with Dhanteras
The festival of Dhanteras is generally associated with the legend of Samudramanthan. According to this legend, after Lord Indra was cursed by sage Durvasa, Goddess Lakshmi left Indra. Thereby, Indra lost everything, his wealth, prosperity, and kingdom. Later on Brahma and Vishnu found a way to get Indra out of this curse and invoked the churning of the sea, which produced the nectar that made the Gods immortal and also made Goddess Lakshmi reappear once more to be with the Gods again on this auspicious day of Dhanteras.
Another legend says that the son of King Hima was destined to die of snakebite on this day and his wife kept Yama, the God of death, at bay the whole night by brilliantly strewing gold and silver all over his husband’s chamber and lighting innumerable diyas all over the place. The dazzle of the diyas along with the brilliance of wealth and the wife’s sweet melodious singing mesmerized Yama and thus the life of the Prince was saved.
In keeping up with the trend of the festivities, Dhanteras gifts are exchanged all over India. Gifts are exchanged between business associates, family members, relatives, and friends.