Introduction: The auspicious eve signifying enhancement of wealth called ‘Dhanteras’ triggers the annual grand festival of Hindus, i.e. Diwali. The celebration lasts for five days in India with their different names meant for each day.
Other names: Dhanatrayodashi or Dhanvantari Trayodashi
Etymology: The word ‘Dhan’ stands for wealth and ‘teras’ means 13th day since it occurs on the 13th day of the Hindu month ‘Ashwin’.
Occurrence: The day ‘Dhanteras’ specially meant for revering Goddess Lakshmi occurs on the 13th lunar day of Krishna Paksha (dark fortnight) as per Hindu calendar month namely ‘Ashwin’.
Observance: The Hindu goddess of wealth, i.e. ‘Lakshmi’, is worshipped on this day specifically for settling peace, prosperity and wealth in the life of all beings. People, especially homemakers throng jewel shops for purchasing silver or gold coins along with some metallic utensils and new cloths that is a customary ritual to be followed on this occasion.
Customary rituals: Along with goddess Lakshmi, the Hindu god of treasure ‘Kuber’ also receives reverence through religious rituals and traditional prayers. It is a taboo to deny any debit to be incurred or to render to anyone on this day as the donor may face severe omen of living in poverty and loss of riches.
People adorn their houses with traditional motifs and rangolis by designing the prints of Goddess Lakshmi’s feet with the paste of rice and vermilion at the corners of the floorings and on the border of the threshold. Subsequent to worshipping, Naivedya is offered to the deity and lamps are lit at night.
The main source of income for peasants, i.e. cattle, is decorated beautifully since they have to rely on them for their livelihood.
Legend: As per mythological tale, the son of king Hima was anticipated to die due to snake-bite on the 4th day of his wedding. His intelligent wife let him awake that night. She created a heap of ornaments and coins of gold and silver while blocking the entrance with it. Later, she illuminated the ambience of entrance with lamps. And, she also kept on singing and narrating tales throughout the night for getting off her husband from falling asleep. The god of death (Yama) arrived in guise of a snake at her doorstep but he became blind due to dazzling glare of lamp’s light falling on the glittering coins and jewels. He did not manage to enter the chamber of her husband. Yama had to return to hell with empty hands. Thence, this day is celebrated as ‘Dhanteras’
As per other legend, the Hindu physician deity ‘Dhanvantari’ was appeared during churning of the ocean. The gods were desperately waiting for elixir to be come out of the steep ocean during churning. Meanwhile, several precious valuables came out among which ‘God Dhanvantri’ was the significant one on the occasion of Dhanteras.