Dhanteras is the first day of the five day long Diwali Festival. It is also known as “Dhantrayodashi” or “Dhanvantari Triodasi”.The word ‘Dhan’ means wealth and ‘Teras’ means 13th day as per Hindu calendar. It is celebrated on the thirteenth lunar day of Krishna paksha in the Hindu calendar month of Ashwin.
According to popular legend, when the Gods and demons churned the ocean for Amrita or nectar, Dhanvantari (the physician of the Gods and an incarnation of Vishnu) emerged carrying a jar of the elixir on the day of Dhanteras. His birthday is celebrated by the practitioners of Ayurveda every year on Dhanteras.
Dhanteras is also known as the day of “Yamadeepdaan“. The story goes as follows:
Once upon a time there was a king by the name of Hima. It was predicted that his sixteen year old son was doomed to die of a snake-bite on the fourth day of his marriage as per his horoscope. All seemed lost for Hima’s son, but his wife had other plans. On the fourth day of his marriage, his young wife did not allow him to sleep. She laid out gold ornaments and lots of silver coins in a big heap at the entrance of her husband’s bedroom and lighted innumerable lamps all over the place. Throughout the night she went on telling stories and singing songs.
So when Yama arrived there in the guise of a Serpent his eyes were blinded by the dazzle of those brilliant lights and he could not enter the Prince’s chamber. He was so enamoured by the whole setup that he climbed on top of the heap of ornaments and coins and sat there the whole night listening to the melodious songs. When Yamaraj finally came back to normalcy, he realised that the night had passed. Not sure of what to do now he quietly went away. Thus the young wife saved her husband from the clutches of death.
Dhanteras holds special significance for the business community due to the customary purchases of precious metals on this day.
On Dhanteras Hindus consider it auspicious to purchase gold or silver articles or at least one or two new utensils. It is believed that new “Dhan” or some form of precious metal is a sign of good luck.
The “Owl” form of Goddess Lakshmi is worshiped to provide prosperity and well being.
The next post is about the physician of the Gods, Dhanvantari.