Because there are many regions in India, there are many manifestations of the Diwali celebration. The festival begins with Dhanteras, a day set aside to worship the goddess of prosperity, Shri Lakshmi. Dhanteras is also known as Dhantrayodashi which is the first day of five days long Diwali festivities. It is celebrated on triodashi of the Krishna Paksha (the dark fortnight). ‘Dhan’ literally means wealth and ‘Tera’ comes from the date 13th. On Dhanteras, Lakshmi – the Goddess of wealth – is worshiped to provide prosperity and well being. Lord Kubera, the God of assets and wealth is also worshipped on this day. This custom of worshiping Lakshmi and Kuber together is in prospect of doubling the benefits of such prayers. There is a custom of purchasing new things and bring it at home which makes the meaning that Lakshmi came home.
The day of Dhanteras is also observed as Dhanwantari Triodasi or Dhanvantri Jayanti, the birth anniversary of the God of Ayurveda. Yamadeep is another ritual on the same Trayodashi Tithi when the lamp for the God of death is lit outside home to ward off any untimely death of any family members.
STORY OF DHANTERAS
Dhanteras is attributed to the story of the sixteen year old son of king Hima. Predictions were made that the boy would die because of a snake bite on the fourth day of his marriage. His newly-wed wife did not allow him to sleep on that particular day. She laid out all her ornaments and gold and silver coins in a pile 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 the god of death, Yama came at the doorstep of the prince 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.
THE MYTH OF DHANAVANTRI
Another legend says, in the cosmic battle between the gods and the demons when both churned the ocean for amrit or divine nectar, Dhanavantri – the physician of the gods and an incarnation of Vishnu, emerged carrying a pot of the elixir. So, according to this mythological tale, the word Dhanteras comes from the name Dhanavantri, the divine doctor. Thus on this day by worshipping the Tulsi and the Akashdeep, we symbolically seek the favour of Nature which is the ultimate source of health and wealth. In addition to this “Laxmi-Puja” is performed in the evenings when tiny diya of clay are lit to drive away the shadows of evil spirits.
It is celebrated with gusto and enthusiasm. People do Lakshmi Puja by offering her ghee Diyas, Bhajans, and devotional songs, Naivedya of traditional sweets, roli and arti.
In the evening, the lamp is lit and Dhan-Lakshmi is welcomed into the house. Alpana or Rangoli designs are drawn on pathways including the goddess’ footprints to mark the arrival of Lakshmi. People buy gold or silver jewellery or utensils to venerate the occasion of Dhanteras. Aarti or devotional chants are sung to praise Goddess Laxmi. Fruits and sweets are offered to her. People wear new clothes and light up the home with lamps and diyas. Business premises are also decorated. Many people inaugurate their new offices, launch new projects, buy car, jewelleries, saree, and many more things on this auspicious day. People consider themselves so lucky by bringing new gifts, utensils, coins, jewellery and other things at home on the day of Dhanteras. It is considered that Goddess Lakshmi is coming home in the form of new things at this day.Dhanteras- Festival of Wealth by Acharya Dharam Shastri