Dhanteras-Legend and Rituals of the Hindu Festival


The word Dhanteras is made of two words – Dhan which means wealth, and Teras which means 13th day as Dhanteras falls on the 13th lunar day of Krishna Paksha (dark fortnight) in the month of Ashwin, according Vikram Samvat Hindu calendar Dhanteras is the first day of the five days long Diwali festivities.  This festival is considered auspicious to buy gold and silver jewelery or metal.

The god worshiped at this auspicious festival  is Dhanvantari, who is considered the originator of Ayurveda and the teacher of all the physicians, and Lord Kubera and goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. On Dhanteras, the “Owl” form of the Goddess Laxmi is worshiped to offer prosperity and well-being.

Legends associated with Dhanteras

Like all of our religious festivals, this festival is also linked with some famous mythological anecdotes.

  1. The King Hima and Yama
    The story of 16-year-old son of King Hima is the most famous mythological story behind Dhanteras. Once an astrologer predicted and told King Hima that his son would die on the fourth day after marriage by a snake-bite. On the dooms day young wife of  king’s son did not allow him to sleep. She laid all the ornaments and lots of gold and silver coins in a big heap at the entrance of her husband’s boudoir and lightened innumerable lamps all over the palace.When Yama, the god of Death arrived there in the guise of a Serpent but his eyes got blinded by that dazzle of those brilliant lights and gold and he could not enter the Prince’s chamber. So he climbed on top of the heap of the ornaments and coins and sat there whole night listening to the melodious songs sung by young wife. In the morning, Yama had to leave bare handed. Thus, the young wife took out her husband from the clutches of death. Since then this day of Dhanteras came to be known as the day of “Yamadeepdaan” and lamps are kept burning throughout the night in reverential adoration to Yam, the god of Death.
  2. Lakshmi in Ocean churning-Amrit Manthan
    According to another popular legend, when the gods and demons churned the ocean for Amrit or nectar, Dhanavantri (the physician of the gods and an incarnation of Vishnu) emerged carrying a jar of the elixir on the day of Dhanteras.Durvasa once cursed Lord Indra and said, “As the pride of wealth has entered your head, let Lakshmi leave you”. Lakshmi left Indra and in turn he became feeble and the demons entered the heaven and defeated him. Lord Vishnu instructed Indra to churn the sea of milk. Because on churning, Amrit would come out and drinking that would make the gods immortal.

    Mandara Mountain became the churning rod and Vasuki, the king of the serpents became the rope for this great work. Lord Vishnu himself took the avatar of a tortoise and lifted Mandara Mountain at his back. As the churning started, Goddess Lakshmi appered. Upon churning the sea more, Dhanvantari emerged carrying a vessel of nectar or the Amrit. Lord Vishnu then defeated the demons and gave the Amrit to the Gods. “Laxmi-Puja” is performed in the evenings when diya of clay are lit to drive away the glooms of evil spirits.

    3. One of the stories says that on this day Goddess Parvati played dice with her husband Lord Shiva and won. A custom of gambling or playing dice is followed among the tradesmen or businessmen so that prosperity and wealth never leaves them.

    Celebrate this Diwali for Good Luck and Happiness

    How do we celebrate Dhanteras?

    People try to please goddess lakshmi in Dhanteras. A lamp is lit at the entrance of the house to welcome Lakshmi. People sing aartis and devotional songs and offer sweets and fruits to her. Followers also worship Kuber who is known as the treasurer of wealth on the day of Dhanters.

    It is a custom to buy some gold or silver jewelry on the day of Dhanteras. One can buy utensils and new clothes also on the day of this auspicious occasion. Many people buy broom as a symbol of prosperity on the day of Dhanteras. The day keeps a very important place in the life of businessmen and they do worship it to their heart to please goddess Lakshmi.

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