Dusshera is over and the festival of lights - Diwali is just upon us. Interestingly, not all people know that the festival of Diwali is actually a five day long celebration which begins with Dhanteras. The festival of Dhanteras falls in the month of October-November on the thirteenth day of the dark fortnight, as the word ‘Dhan’ literally means wealth and ‘Teras’ comes from the date thirteenth. It is celebrated two days before the festival of lights and also known as ‘Yamadeepdaan’.
On Dhanteras, Lakshmi – Goddess of wealth is worshipped to provide prosperity and well being. Hindus also worship Lord Kuber as the treasurer of wealth and bestower of riches, along with Goddess Lakshmi.
Case in point bring up the word ‘Dhanteras’ and chances are everyone around you will immediately talk of buying Gold, Silver, Diamonds, Clothes, Utensils, electronics and other items of value. Of course it is an occasion to seek wealth and prosperity, but how this tradition comes about?
As the legend goes, the horoscope of king Hima’s sixteen year old son read that he would die on the fourth day of his marriage by a snake bite. On that particular day, the prince’s young wife laid all her ornaments, gold and silver coins in a big heap at the entrance of her husband’s chamber, lighted lamps all over and starting singing songs and narrating stories. When Yama arrived in the form of snake, his eyes got dazzle and blinded by the brilliance of the lamps and jewellery and he couldn’t enter the prince’s chamber. In a trance like state, he sat on top of the heap and spent the whole night listening to the melodious songs, thus missing his deadline and sparing the prince’s life.
For this reason, this is considered an auspicious time to buy gold and silver and light earthen lamps or deep and these are kept burning throughout the night glorifying Yama (God of death).
The First lamp of Diwali are lit on this day. People hang up paper lanterns with festoons and send out the message of the arrival of Diwali. Dhanteras is not all about material wealth, it is also a time to develop spiritual wealth and family bonding. All family members arrive at ancestral home on the day. Grandparents and Parents wait for the day as sons, daughters and grandchildren arrive from distant places.
Happy Dhanteras to all of you!
- Shweta Modi