The colourful festival of Deepavali starts with Dhanteras, which is also known by other names like, 'Dhantrayodashi" and 'Dhanvantari Triodasi'. The festival falls on the thirteenth day of the month of Karthik. There are different connotations associated with the name 'Dhanteras'. Some believe that it came from the word 'dhan' which means money, while some others believe that it came from Dhnvantari, the 'God of medicine'. On this day, people perform pujas dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi to get blessed with wealth and prosperity. This day is also considered auspicious to buy precious metals like gold and silver, and utensils. On Dhanteras, people decorate their homes with lighted diyas to get rid of evil spirits. People decorate the entrances and courtyards of their houses with lights, flowers and rangoli of varied patterns. Read on to know more about Dhanteras, the legends and celebrations associated with it.
Legend of Yama, the God of Death
There are two legends associated with Dhanteras. One legend says about the sixteen year old son of King Hima. His horoscope said that he will have an early death, owing to snake bite, on the fourth day of his wedding. His wife was very clever and she did not permit him to fall asleep on the fourth day. Laying all her gold ornaments along with gold and silver coins on the entrance of the sleeping chamber, she also lit lamps all over the place. She also sang melodious songs to prevent her husband from falling asleep. When the Death of God, Yamraj, visited the household in the form of a snake to take the prince's life, the light from the lamps and the jewellery dazzled his eyes, which blinded him temporarily. Not being able to enter the chamber, snake (Yama) sat on the heaps of gold coins, thereby enjoying the songs sung by the prince's wife. In the morning, he had no other option, but to go back. As on this day, the prince was saved from death, the day is known by the name, Dhanteras or Yamadeepdaan. In some households, ladies light lamps and leave them to burn all through the night to honour Yama, the god of death.
Legend Of Dhanvantari
According to another legend, a cosmic battle occurred between gods and demons when the 'Ocean of Milk' was churned for divine nectar or 'Amrit'. During the churning, Dhanvantari, the 'God of Medicine', emerged from the ocean, with a pot of elixir. It is believed that the term Dhanteras emerged from the name 'Dhanvantari'.
The rituals and traditions of Dhanteras incorporate elements from both these legends. On this day, people offer various rituals for goddess Lakshmi and they decorate the houses using colours and lights and rangoli. This day is also considered auspicious to purchase precious metals like gold and silver, and utensils. The natives of Maharashtra have a unique custom in which they mix dry coriander leaves and jaggery and offer as Naivedya.
Dhanteras marks the beginning of Diwali celebrations. Read on to know more about Dhanteras and its significance.